Take-Away Tip: Hold Your Breath for Stress Release
October 8, 2008
How Pausing After an Inhale or Exhale Can Help You Resist Stress
Freaking out during a yoga class is more common than we think…when it comes to our minds. Put us in a balance we find challenging or get us doing a pranayama/breathing exercise we’re not used to and our inner self begins to sound more like an escape artist than a yogi. “What the H is the point of this freakin’ pose anyway? Standing on one foot while holding my other toe out behind me is impossible!” or “How the heck does this teacher think I’m supposed to actually breathe with all this inhaling, exhaling, count to four crap?!” “I want out.”
The cool part about yoga is that if we just stick with it, forget about doing it perfectly, we gain huuuuuge benefits. Sticking with wacky, complicated, unnatural pranayama exercises that ask us to hold our breath in or out is a particularly powerful way to amp up our stress-resistance.
On the Mat: When the panic sets in, we notice it. That’s all. We keep going. No really, it works. Because if we just stick with the pranayama, as it’s set out by the teacher, we learn not just breath and energy control, but mind management. Mind: “You haven’t taken an inhale in four seconds! You’re going to die!” Us: “Thanks for the warning, oh over-protective-one. But I think we’ll be okay if we just stay calm and stay with it.” So we do, we keep breathing, and we learn that the panic isn’t usually justified. We’re just fine. In fact, we’re awesome, borderline blissed out, stress-busters.
Off the Mat: We take this same idea and apply it to any stressful situation. Mind: “You’ve never done this before! Your deadlines are racing at you like freight trains! You’re not going to make it!” Us: “No problemo. We’ll just keep breathing.” Ahhhhh.