Reduce Your Stress And Anxiety With Pranayama
In ayurveda, the body is more than your physical body. There are layers or sheaths known as Koshas. The Pranamaya Kosha is the subtle energy body, and is sandwiched between the physical body (Annamaya Kosha) and the mental body (Manomaya Kosha). Prana (vitality) is taken in by all five senses; however, can be directed by the breath. When we breathe deeply and consciously, we have the ability to heal and nourish.
Pranayama technique for anxiety:
For those moments you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, a great tool is the Brahmari (bumblebee) breath. I love this pranayama because it brings the mind into focus very quickly, and calms its incessant chatter. This is one of my favorite techniques to use when I’m travelling, or when I feel frazzled and scattered. This is also great for when you have a lot of ruminating thoughts or worry. It cuts through that murkiness and brings the mind into a one-pointed focus. Plus, the vibration helps to soothe the nervous system and leave you feeling calm and serene.
This technique can be done just about anywhere, with or without the hand mudra. Start by taking your thumbs and gently pressing them into the flaps in your ear (tragus). Place your fingers over the head and forehead. You will breathe evenly into the nostrils. As you exhale, keep the mouth closed, breathe out through the nostrils and hum the sound of the bumblebee. The tongue can either rest gently in the mouth or at the roof of the mouth. Keep the spine long and neutral and a comfortable base (either sitting cross legged, on a chair, or on a blanket or bolster).
You can vary the pitch and volume of the humming to suit your needs. I recommend starting with 3-5 rounds, and then pause for a few natural breaths to notice how you feel.
Pranayama technique for depression:
For those moments when a swell of emotion arises, or you find yourself in deep despair, a great pranayama is pursed-lipped breathing. This is something I do to help move that energy. Oftentimes, we’re taught to repress our emotions; push it down, and/or power through it. In my experience, this tends to harm more than heal. Instead allow the emotion and that energy to flow. Silently say to yourself, “stay open.” This helps lessen the tension and dissolve the knot of emotion stuck within the physical and subtle body.
When these moments occur, first notice and silently resolve to yourself to not hold the breath or clench the body. Breathe evenly and smoothly through the nostrils. Exhale out the mouth with pursed lips. Imagine you are blowing through a straw or blowing bubbles when you exhale. What this does is lengthen the exhalation which in turns stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. If you notice you hold the breath when big swells of emotion occur, you are stimulating your flight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system). By exhaling out through pursed lips, you soothe the nervous system and calm the mind. This technique is great for panic attacks as well.
This breathing technique can be done anywhere. Eyes can remain open or closed. I recommend 3-5 rounds, and as you breathe in this fashion, silently say to yourself, “remain open”, “feel.” Take as many rounds as you need until you feel calm and centered. Pause and reflect how the practice has impacted you.
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