When you learn to tune in and breathe in those moments when you are feeling the burn, you can turn a stressful moment into a learning opportunity. And you can use your breath for more than just stress relief. It can help you feel more energized, balanced, and connected.
Omega teacher Jack Kornfield has said, “When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another and ourselves.”
Here are a few real-world examples where you might need to focus on your breath more than anything else.
- You are running to yoga class. If you are stressing about making it to yoga class on time, you can serve your mind and body better by taking some deep breaths and slowing down on your way to class. You might miss the opening meditation or chanting, but you will come to class prepared to truly relax, stretch, and breathe.
- You are falling asleep at your desk. It’s 3:00 p.m. and you can barely hold your head up at your computer. Rather than reaching for that hidden chocolate in your desk or making the trek to your nearest coffee shop, try some energizing breath to oxygenate and awaken your body.
- You just yelled at one of the waitstaff of your favorite restaurant. Emotions can run wild for a variety of reasons, but you don’t need to take it out on people who are serving you. Take a moment to sneak away to the bathroom, take some deep breaths, and come back with a great apology.
- You just woke up from 8 hours of sleep and you still feel tired. Maybe you had a restless night of sleep because you're stressed about work or you woke up in the middle of the night with one of your children. Whatever the reason, you can try a Kundalini Yoga technique called breath of fire to help you feel more awake. Start with a few deep breaths and then pump your navel point (2-3 inches below your belly button) in and out while breathing rapidly through the nose, with the mouth closed.
- You were feeling okay and then suddenly panic sets in. The word “panic” comes from ancient Greece. It is said that the Greeks experienced terror when they came into contact with Pan, the god of nature. When we panic, we often hyperventilate. It's important to know that when you hyperventilate you are actually getting too much oxygen. Try cupping your hands over your mouth (or a paper bag) and practice a slow breath.
- You notice a dull pain or pressure around your head that worsens throughout the day. Tension headaches have many causes. Before you reach for a pill, try a few minutes of a relaxing breath. Picture yourself in a happy place, like a deserted beach or at the top of a beautiful mountain, and breathe slowly in and out of your nostrils.
- You’re feeling bored, start snacking on chips and before you know it, you finish the bag. Emotional eating can happen when you feed a feeling instead of taking time to let an emotion come up and out. Breathing can actually nourish and satisfy at a much deeper level than cake or chips. Next time you notice yourself craving a particular food, check in with your emotions and take a few minutes to connect with your breath to see if you are hungry for food, or something else.
© 2013 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies