Many of us often feel time poor, with schedules full to the brim, we’re left with little time to recover and decompress. It’s does not help that we have been conditioned to glorify burnout as a measure of success and worthiness. In reality, wrapping our worth in external achievements only helps to feed our ego, a part of our mind fearful of lacking. Alongside our own expectations, the demands of modern living can leave us feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious.
So how do we protect the asset that is us?
Learning to tame your inner world is key to bringing clarity and understanding to the chaos in your outer world. The skill of relaxing, decompressing, and reflecting is as important as the breath itself (more of that to come). There is of course an art and individuality to relaxation, so implementing a daily routine to turn inwards and take stock of your personal pressures is a good place to start.
Before we dive into a variety of breath work techniques, finding moments of pause to be present is a great way to navigate through stressful periods. Of course, this is where the ego may call this counterproductive, not doing, but being. The irony is when we are in stressful scenarios, we often become reactive, making poor decisions. Instead, take a moment to pause. Take an observational perspective to the circumstance, surrender to the sensations you feel and remind yourself that with a pause, comes presence and often peace.
Focus on your breath
Breath work is a helpful tool to combat stress, particularly in scenarios where you might find yourself time short, or in an environment with limited privacy. Your breath is everywhere you go, it’s ready when you are, to engage and bring your attention to.The control you have over your own breath, is your superpower. In taking control you can determine whether you allow the stressful (sympathetic) scenario and sensations to continue, or whether you dial up your restful state (parasympathetic) to bring sensations of calm to the body, reassuring the mind.
Simple Breathing Exercise:
Take two short, sharp inhales, followed by one long exhale. Take two fast breaths in through your nose and one long breath out through your mouth. Do this for 60 seconds. This breath practice will send a message to your brain that it’s safe to relax. You’ll stimulate your nervous system to settle. This simple act has the power to interrupt the pattern of fear and regulate your body and mind.
VIloma breath (against the wave/flow breath):
Take 5 inhalations of equal parts, starting from the lower belly, moving into the chest and throat, followed by one long exhalation. Repeat 5 times. Follow this up with the reverse, one long inhalation followed by an exhalation pausing 5 times of equal parts. The pauses and retention in this practice helps enhance breath capacity by using the full expansion of the lungs and develops conscious breathing, it also cools down the body.