Yoga wellness teaches us that health isn’t just about your body, it’s about your mind and spirit too. Effective stress management enhances both mental and physical well-being. While exercise is a key component to combat chronic stress, it is not realistic to go for a run or take a relaxing vacation every time you encounter a stressful situation. But you can learn to combat stress, tension, and anger in 15 minutes through this Pranayama breathing practice, or the art of yoga breathing.
Begin by lying down on your back in a quiet spot. Relax and feel your body melting into the ground with hands and legs outstretched and eyes gently shut.
Step 1. Abdominal
Observe your natural breath. You will notice that the abdomen rising with inhalation and falling with exhalation. Begin to deepen and lengthen that pattern. To do so, let the abdomen rise to its limit as you inhale and let it completely drop as you exhale. The abdomen should be the only thing moving, keep the chest still. Continue this cycle for 20 breaths and rest.
Step 2. Thoracic
Return to observing your natural breath, but now bring attention to the chest. You should notice the chest moving slightly up with inhalation and down with exhalation. Start to deepen and extend that movement in the chest now. On inhalation, fill and lift the rib cage until the lungs are totally full. On exhalation, let the lungs collapse and sink. Here you should be keeping the abdomen still so that the only movement is in the chest. Repeat this for 20 breaths, rest.
Step 3. Pranayama
Now you are prepared to combine the elements of abdominal and chest breathing. Begin with an inhalation that fills the abdomen and continue an upward inhalation as you expand and fill the chest. Then let the exhalation begin with the emptying the air in the chest and continue exhaling down to the abdomen as it pulls inwards and empties. Repeat this full yogic breath cycle 20 times.
Rise slowly from your reclined position and return to normal breath. Allow yourself a few moments to become aware of how this exercise made you feel. Sure, a relaxing vacation is dreamy, but practicing a daily 15 minute breathing technique will lead to a holistic yoga wellness.