Many of us struggle with anxiety, often times behind closed doors and much to the surprise of even our closest friends. Fitness can also be a bit of a tough business with the constant pressures of presenting in our classes or for our clients, of staying ahead of the curve on education and trying to maintain our own personal fitness.
A regular Yoga practice can offer mindfulness tools that help us stay present and calm when the pressure feels turned up. Certain Yoga breathing techniques in particular can offer immediate relief by connecting us to our parasympathetic nervous system – responsible for calming us in the moment, also referred to as rest and digest, here are a couple to try:
Alternate Nostril Breathing:
Sitting comfortably with a straight spine, take a few centering breaths to start (deep inhales and slow exhales) Using your index and thumb, cover your left nostril while taking a deep breath in through your right nostril and then closing your right nostril to exhale from your left. Inhaling through your left nostril and then closing your left nostril to exhale from your right, this completes one cycle. Repeat the cycle 6-8 times and notice how feel. Alternate nostril breathing helps to balance out our energy and to release pent up nervous energy as well.
This breath can be done anywhere, standing or seated. Take a deep breath and let your belly fill with air (well technically the lower lobes of your lungs pressing on your diaphragm to make your belly push out) continue breathing into side ribs and take the last sips of breath to the top of your chest. Exhale slowly. Repeat as many times as needed. A great trick to use any time you need to find some calming energy, even a great practice to use with your clients before starting their workout so you both feel relaxed and centered.
Written by: Lisa Greenbaum of YogaFit Canada