I am a shallow breather.
Whenever I watch for belly breathing I fail miserably, as I breathe only from my chest. Inevitably my lack of oxygen comes from stress. When I feel anxious or hurried my nervous system goes into to overdrive, which in turn raises my body’s cortisol levels. The irony is that deeper breaths would slow all of this down, yet when I am rushing I often forget to breathe! So it has been my mission to find ways to incorporate deep breathing techniques to conquer this. I practice yoga 4 times per week but I find that during a flowing class it may be hard to really take in that nourishing breath. So I decided to challenge myself to 30 days of deep breathing, or Pranayama and 30 days of Yoga Nidra.
Pranayama comes from the Sanskrit word of prana, life force, and yama, control. The breath is like the body’s gearshift, without it we can’t really move through life effectively.
Yoga Nidra can restore the body without all of life’s distractions.
It can even help you to make up for lost sleep by repairing tissue during this practice. It can calm the body more than an average meditation practice because of the focus on the breath. There is also a portion where you bring awareness to different parts of the body and I can actually feel those areas releasing as I turn my attention towards them.
I have been following a Yoga Nidra protocol by Dharma Mittra where we use alternate nostril breathing which helps to make me feel calmer and more centered, along with guided visualizations to open up each chakra, one at a time. We finish with a visualization of your own choosing and I often use that time to focus my intention on what I am currently manifesting in my life.
I am not going to lie in the beginning it was difficult to breathe in this way. I actually felt winded at times which was strange. I also felt that the visualization part was challenging because I kept rationalizing what I was seeing. My brain was kicking in too much and it was almost interfering with my “vision.” But after about 5 sessions all of this started to subside. I began to hear more poignant ideas during the visualization and I also found the breath work energizing rather than exhausting. As crazy as it sounds, at one point I was so relaxed that I fell asleep while doing the visualization.
There are endless benefits to breath work and I would love to share this with all of you! If you want to calm your nervous system, sleep deeper and lower stress levels, join us for our women's retreat Oct 20-23rd in Aurora, New York to learn more about the techniques that might work best for you. We will be bringing in a highly skilled meditation and Pranayama teacher to guide you through your breathing and to help you to make this part of your daily practice.