Breathing Exercises to Calm Your Nervous System
Conscious breathing also allows us to shift from the Parasympathetic Nervous System to the Sympathetic Nervous System and vice versa. Anxiety, depression and stress are commonplace among people of all ages, lifestyles, and social class - no one is exempt. Even retirees who have “nothing to worry about” can be addicted to low level stress hormones lingering from their career, diet or emotional blocks from childhood (plus many more reasons).
By taking more control of the breath we can leverage deeper access to the typically hidden parts of the mind as emotional and mental patterns can show up as abnormalities in our breath. Taking time to breath properly everyday not only helps you relax the nervous system, be more present and mindful, it can help release any residual, stuck energies and patterns that no longer serve you.
If we make our breath more calm, easeful and balanced, then WE become more calm, easeful and balanced.
5 Breathing Techniques for Anxiety and Stress
1. SAVITRI - named after the Goddess, Savitri
There is no other breath that offers such supreme balance to the nervous system and mind.
Sit in any comfortable cross legged or kneeling position so that the spine is lengthened.
Lengthen both the inhalation and exhalation to an internal 6 count.
After becoming established in this balanced breath, begin to hold the breath in for 3 counts at the top of the inhalation and at the end of the exhalation.
6 Inhale 3 hold 6 Exhale 3 hold
After 1-2 minutes lengthen both the inhalation and exhalation to an internal 8 count without a breath hold at either end.
After becoming established in this balanced breath, begin to hold the breath in for 4 counts at the top of the inhalation and at the end of the exhalation.
Inhale for 8 counts, hold the breath in for 4 counts, exhale for 8 counts, hold the breath out for 4 counts (8,4,8,4).
Continue to practice Savitri for 27 rounds, which will take between 12 and 15 minutes.
Complete the practice with a short meditation to fully receive the gifts of the practice.
2. SAMA VRITI (as above).
Simply increase the breath retentions to an 8 count (1:1:1:1 ratio). This will still have a balancing/equalising effect, however it will be slightly more activating than the overall calming effects of Savitri.
3. CHANDRA BHEDANA
Speaks to the cool and calm energy of the moon and mind. This practice has a strong cooling effect on the body and a grounding and stabilising effect on the mind.
Inhale left nostril, and exhale through the right only.
Repeat for 5 or more minutes, depending on the time you have.
If you want to increase the potency of the practice, hold the breath for a few counts after exhaling
4. NADI SHODHANA
To balance the energies throughout the nervous system. Nadi Shodhana is the classic alternate-nostril breath. Using an appropriate hand Mudra, draw the
Breathe in through the right nostril.
Then let out through the left.
The next inhalation is drawn in through the left, and out through the right.
Continue alternating back and forth like this.
5. FOUR PART GROUNDING PRANAYAMA
Being grounded allows us to remain focused, centred, and open to what is actually happening in our lives. It also helps us feel gratitude and joy, becoming less reactive and more stable. This simple but effective breathing exercise really helps you to be present.
Inhale 6, exhale 6 (5 rounds)
Inhale 6, exhale 6, hold out 4 (5 rounds) Inhale 9, exhale 9 (5 rounds)
Inhale 9, exhale 9, hold out 6 (5 rounds)
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