By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
When the first Yogi practiced pranayama (Yoga breathing) to silence the mind, the results must have seemed magical. At times, calming the mind seems to be a miracle. The mind chatters so much during the course of a day, by creating waves of random and senseless thoughts. Thank heaven for Yogic breathing techniques, which manage to connect the mind and body in complete harmony, and enable us to silence, focus, and calm the mind, in the process.
In the time spent living our day-to-day lives, we all have stress that we must deal with in a rational way. The way we deal with our stress triggers can have a profound impact on our lives. Chronic stress has negative effects on the body, such as high blood pressure, so it must be dealt with in a healthy way. Whether we incorporate pranayama into daily activities, or we practice them during a Yoga training session, they can be powerful tools for quieting the mind’s worries and reducing one’s stress levels.
Pranayama Ratio for Rhythm Breathing
One Yoga breathing technique many enthusiasts practice is called, “rhythm breathing.” This is a way to focus on your inhale and exhale ratio. It is a great method for clearing the mind and energizing the body. To perform this exercise, sit or stand, in any comfortable position you choose. Find the rhythm of your natural breathing ratio. This may take some time, and it must be realized that your natural ratio may not be found in a book, because it is unique to your body and mind.
The typical ratio practitioners are taught to target is one part inhalation to two parts exhalation (1:2). What if you discover you naturally inhale for four seconds and exhale for five seconds (4:5)? Should you stress out over making your breath match a “cookie cutter” ratio? The short answer is: “Absolutely not.” No worries – just enjoy your breath, as if you were a child in a candy store. If you decide you want to lengthen your inhale, just quietly practice Ujjayi on the exhale. Suddenly, your exhale increases to seconds, or many seconds, longer. You can do this form of pranayama any time or during any stressful situation. Try to do this in the morning, and night, to prepare yourself for the stresses of the day, or relieve them from your mind before sleep.
Yoga Breath Awareness Technique
Another way to practice Yoga breathing to silence the mind is the “breath awareness” technique. It can be practiced anywhere as a de-stressor. To do this, sit or stand up straight. Close your eyes, or if you are in a public place, choose a soft point to focus your eyes on, such as a tree or picture on the wall. Inhale deeply and concentrate on fully expanding your stomach, filling your lungs with oxygen. As you exhale, gently draw your stomach toward your spine, and imagine pushing out all the negative thoughts that you store in your mind. Repeat as many times as you need, until you feel relaxed and in control.
Practicing these Yoga techniques, regularly, creates a healthier body and stronger mind. It is important to get in the habit of practicing deep, relaxing breathing, whenever you are in a tense situation or whenever you feel your heartbeat begin to quicken. You will be much better able to handle stress in the future, silence negative thoughts, and have a secret weapon to get through anything.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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