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January 24, 2021 5 min read

Here are some simple yet effective tips to cope with stress, in particular the stress associated with coronavirus anxiety. Breathwork can be a very effective means of managing stress and anxiety.  

image courtesy of @jareddrice

Experts in the field of breathwork say that as many 80% of us have dysfunctional breathing patterns. 

We come in to the world knowing how to breath, but as we age we appear to learn to breath shallow and short. People who are anxious tend to breathe in their upper lungs (upper chest) with shallow, rapid breaths, instead of breathing into their lower lungs (lower chest). This is one contribution to hyperventilation: shallow, upper lung breathing.


The correct way to breathe deep and low and in through the nose , expanding from the lungs rather the shoulders. Breath down in to your stomach, bring your awareness to 'your belly muscles' expanding . Watch how a small baby breaths naturally. 

Any one of you who have learned yoga will have experienced a pranayama technique, which is centred on manipulating your breath. The word “pranayama” translates to the control of life force. It is also known as the extension of breath. Every cell in our bodies needs oxygen to function properly. So it’s not a surprise that research shows that a regular practice of controlled breathing can decrease the effects of stress on the body and increase overall physical and mental health.

 

Ever notice how soothing a simple sigh can be at the end of a long day? There are a variety of breathing techniques that are known to reduce stress, aid in digestion, improve sleep, and cool you down.

 

Here are instructions on two pranayama exercises worth practicing and the most beneficial times to do them.

 



1.Nadi Shodhan Pranayama also known as 'Alternative nostril breathing', is a very relaxed, balancing breath that is used to help calm the nervous system and aid in a restful night’s sleep. By increasing the amount of oxygen taken into the body, it’s believed that this breath can also purify the blood, calm the mind, reduce stress, and promote concentration.


How to do it: can be done seated or lying down. To start, empty all the air from your lungs. Using the thumb of your dominant hand, block your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril only. Be sure to inhale into your belly, not your chest. Once you are full of breath, seal your left nostril with the ring finger of the same hand, keeping your right nostril closed, and hold the breath for a moment. Then release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril only. Be sure to exhale all the breath out of the right side and pause before inhaling again through the same side. Seal both nostrils once you’ve inhaled on the right side and exhaled through the left side. A complete cycle of breath includes an inhalation and exhalation through both nostrils. If you’re just starting out, you can do a four-count inhale, holding your breath for four to eight counts, then exhale for four counts. Perform up to ten cycles and notice how your body responds. You may feel more relaxed and calm in both your mind and body.

When to do it: Nadhi sodhana is a calm, soothing breath that can be done any time of day. Try practicing this technique when you are anxious, nervous, or having trouble falling asleep.

Sitali Pranayama


Sitali also means cooling, which explains the effect it can have on your mind and body. This breath encourages clearing heat with coolness. It’s especially helpful during summer and in hot climates.

How to do it: Roll your tongue until the outer edges touch, forming a tube. If you can’t curl your tongue, make an oval shape with your mouth, keeping your tongue flat. Inhale through your mouth, taking in all the air that you can. It may make a hissing sound. After inhaling, bring the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and seal your lips. Feel the coolness of the inhalation in your month then exhale through your nose. Repeat five to ten times or as needed.

When to do it: If you’re feeling overheated, irritable, or find yourself waiting impatiently in hot weather, sitali is a great tool to try to cool off and relax!

Breathing is one of the most natural things we do as humans. It is a gift and a very powerful tool that can enable us to create more ease and balance in our lives. Taking time to focus on the breath allows us to pause from daily stresses, physical symptoms, and emotions that have taken over the mind. It is in that moment where we focus on the breath that we can return to a neutral state of being, gain clarity, feel rejuvenated, and enhance an overall sense of well-being. These are just a few wonderful reasons to include a pranayama practice into your daily routine. 

 

Simple routine.

Try inhaling and holding your breath for four seconds with your lungs full for four seconds and exhaling with your abdomen contracted inwards and holding your lungs in for four seconds, repeat for five minutes. 

 
Helpful Tips :

  1.  If you feel any discomfort or light-headedness, stop immediately and return to normal breathing. Consult a instructor for guidance and supervision.
  2. Never force or restrict your breath. Don’t compromise the quality of the breath. Give yourself time. - The more you practice, the longer you’ll be able to perform the exercises, and eventually, you’ll be able to use more of your lung capacity.
  3.  Pranayama should be done with great care and awareness. Over time, you will start to notice the benefits of the practice.
  4. Precautions. If you are pregnant, or suffer from diabetes, high or low blood pressure, heart conditions, epilepsy, or vertigo, please consult your health care provider before performing any of these breathing exercises.
Your lymphatic system which does not have a pump of its own gets a serious boost from deep breathing, this in turn will help boost and clarify your skin, so breathwork could be the ultimate antiwrinkle, depuffing glow booster for your skin. 

 

Get outside every morning , look towards the sun if its out , this has a terrific effect on your mood, get some exercise every day. 

Get your vitamin D. This is very important for health. Despite its name, vitamin D is not a vitamin. Instead, it is a hormone that promotes the absorption of calcium in the body. The challenge is that, aside from a few foods like oily fish, vitamin D is hard to find in the average diet .  Most Doctors believe that everyone should be taking Vitamin D3. 

If you take any group of patients with almost any disease, their vitamin D levels will be lower than in a healthy individual – Ian Reid.


Ian Reid, professor in medicine at the University of Auckland, believes that diseases cause low vitamin D levels, as being unwell often leads to spending less time outdoors exposed to sunlight, rather than vice versa. “If you take any group of patients with almost any disease, their vitamin D levels will be lower than in a healthy individual.

 Stay Healthy, Stay Happy and take care of yourself.

Nuala. 


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