My Favorite Stress-Reducing Breathing Tool

Summer is over and fall is here. It feels like the perfect synergistic ending and beginning.

Now is the time to get rid of stale thoughts, feelings, and physical belongings to make space for newness.

It’s time to breathe in new life and let the fresh air fill us.

Yogis love their asanas (postures), and tend to bring all their focus to them.

The poses that make up yoga are incredible and key to the practice, but there’s another important piece that often gets overlooked: Pranayama, or breathing.

It’s the fourth limb of the eightfold path, coming after asana. Patanjali tells us “pranayama removes the veil covering the light of knowledge and heralds the dawn of wisdom.”

Your breath is the foundation of your practice, fueling the postures and releasing deep-seeded emotional and physical tension.

I often refer to the breath as the barometer of the inner body. The way we breathe is very telling of what’s happening deep inside.

If you notice that your breath is short, jagged or uneven, that’s probably a good indication that there’s stress and holding somewhere, either physically or emotionally.

You might even find yourself holding your breath or barely breathing at times.

Do you ever notice that your breath feels smooth and full?

That’s a good sign you’re feeling balanced and relaxed. Take some time during the day to check in and notice your breath.

Next time you practice yoga, do the same.

Are you breathing consistently?
Are you unconsciously holding your breath in difficult postures?

If you find yourself not breathing, it might be time to back off and modify the posture you’re in.

For me, yoga was my first introduction to the breath. Becoming aware of my breathing not only supported my yoga practice but also began to infuse my meditation and mindfulness practices.

Each breath gives us an opportunity to be in the now.

Breathing is so natural that we often take it for granted and never really think about it. Setting an intention when it comes to the breath brings richness and depth to one’s life.

It can increase concentration and vitality, and reduce stress and tension. It’s truly an untapped resource.

Today I’d like to share a technique with you that’s quick, easy, and downright fun!

It’s called Bhramari breath, or humming bee breath.

This technique has a tremendous therapeutic effect. The buzzing element drowns out the endless mental tapes that often fuel emotional suffering and tension.

It’s a useful starting point for those whose minds are too busy to meditate and are looking for a quick way to relax and reduce tension.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Find a comfortable seat.
2. Rest thumbs in your ears, lightly pressing on the tragus (ear cartilage), and place your other fingers comfortably on your forehead.
3. Breathe in on the count of six, then apply light-medium pressure with all fingers and breathe out slowly, making a low-pitched humming noise. Feel the vibration.
4. Do this for six rounds of breath.
5. Lower your hands, relax, let your breath rest in its normal place, and feel.
6. BE (no pun intended) with your experience.

Here’s a video if you’d like a visual.

It’s helpful to develop a breathing practice of simply being present with your inhales and exhales throughout the day.

As you become more in tune with your breath, you can add multiple techniques to your toolbox and use them when you feel stressed, anxious or tired.

Do you notice your breath in everyday life? Would bringing more attention to it serve you?

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Namaste,
Michele

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