Managing Stress starts with managing the Breath. Breath awareness begins with recognizing the breath as both the physical breath, as well as the subtle life force of the body and mind which determines the energetic radiance, the physical health, and the psychological well being of a person. The science of yogic breathing is called Pranayam, ‘Prana’ meaning life force and ‘Ayam’ meaning expansion. The mind follows the breath. The key to controlling the mind is in controlling the breath.
When we are feeling anxious and under stress, the breath can become shallow or erratic, or we can start upper chest breathing with a faster breath rate, which leads to chronic tension and weak nerves, and poor breathing then increases susceptibility to even more stress! So when we consciously lower the frequency of breaths per minute, we encourage great benefits.
8 cycles per minute: We start to feel more relaxed. We experience relief from stress and increased mental awareness. Parasympathetic nervous system begins to be influenced. Healing processes are elevated.
4 cycles per minute: Positive shifts in mental function. Intense feelings of awareness, increased visual clarity, heightened body sensitivity. Pituitary and Pineal glands begin to co-ordinate at an enhanced level, producing a meditative state.
1 cycle per minute: Optimized co-operation between brain hemispheres. Dramatic calming of anxiety, fear and worry. Openness to feeling one’s presence and the presence of spirit. Intuition develops. The whole brain works.
One Minute Breath
Posture: Sit in Easy Pose with Neck Lock, or sit in chair with straight spine
Inhale to a count of 20 seconds
Hold the breath for 20 seconds
Exhale to a count of 20 seconds
Continue for 3 minutes.
Note: I suggest you start with 5 seconds, inhale, 5 seconds hold and 5 exhale. Then work up to 10 seconds inhale, hold and exhale, and continue gradually up to the 1 minute breath.