Posts Tagged ‘breathing techniques’
New Haven, CT, United States (AHN) – These may definitely be the times that try our souls and test our patience. The ailing economy, the high unemployment rate, the housing market bust, endless phone calls, emails and the holidays are enough to have you stressed out and your mind jumping all over the place.
Scientists are now finding out that meditating may be the answer. Their findings in a new study suggest that it may be beneficial to train your brain on something as simple as your breath, as part of mindfulness meditation, to calm your mind and reduce your stress.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals just how meditation relates to the brain. It shows that people who are experienced meditators show less activity in the brain’s default mode network, when the brain is not engaged in thought.
The default mode network is associated with introspection and mind wandering. As a rule, drifting thoughts tend to focus on negative subjects, which in turn leads to more stress and more anxiety.
For the study, the researchers from Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic looked at experienced meditators and trained novices. Each volunteer was instructed to engage in three types of meditations: Concentration (attention to breath); love-kindness (wishing others well); and choiceless awareness (focus on whatever comes up). The scientists then looked at the subject’s brain activity during these meditations with MRIs.
Across all these type of mediation, the experienced meditators showed less activity in the default mode network than the novices.
The researchers cannot say from this study if meditating is helpful to the brain. But, when viewed in conjunction with other studies on the positive effects of mindfulness training for depression, substance abuse, anxiety and pain disorders, it appears to offer promise and hope.
Filed under National News ·
As part of a class, she wrote a stream-of-conscious dialogue between herself and her symptom — in this case, shortness of breath.
The small group classes at Spartanburg Regional’s Center for Health and Healing aim to help people cope with stress, manage anxiety and overcome depression through breathing exercises, yoga and other techniques that connect the mind to the body’s health.
One of the chief proponents of these therapies is Dr. James Gordon, a psychiatrist and professor at Georgetown Medical School. He’ll speak at 7 tonight at the Student Life Center at the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Watson, who is 71, enrolled in the class because she said she felt fatigued and stressed about whether her treatment regimen was working.
Her breast cancer has matured slowly during the past 10 years, giving her plenty of time to think about life and death.
“After your diagnosis, that’s all you think about, but you can’t do that all the time,” she said. “You try to get on with your life and live more in the present.”
Hunter Mahon, manager at the Center for Health and Healing, coordinates Watson’s group. Mahon learned from Gordon and now teaches his methods to people like Watson.
Her team has led 20 groups in the past two years.
“What we do is, we teach the most common techniques for stress management,” Mahon said. “We teach breathing techniques and different forms of meditation and guided imagery.”
She administers identical surveys before and after the program and has printed the results on a brochure advertising the program. According to her surveys, people who have graduated from the class are less anxious, angry, depressed and fatigued after the eight-week class.
At a national level, Gordon said his techniques can be a panacea for a medical system that too often resorts to prescription drugs and medications when small group therapy is more natural, more effective and less costly.
“The approach that we’ve developed should be the primary approach everywhere,” he said.
“I’m saying, use this first, and if it doesn’t work, then you can look at using the drugs, and they work, but sometimes they have very significant side effects.”
After going through the class, Watson said she has more energy and doesn’t feel as burdened.
Sitting in her classroom one morning last week, she said she’s learned a lot.
“Your breathing reflects your emotions,” she said. “You can control breathing and control your emotions.”
Gordon’s techniques, however, are one set among many that circulate in the medical world.
Bob Ratcliffe, psychiatrist at Gero-Psychiatry unit at St. Luke’s Hospital in Columbus, N.C., said he practices “responsibility therapy.”
“You have to do some hard work, looking at what you’re doing with your life and what you’re learning from your mistakes,” he said.
He said deep breathing or meditation could augment other treatment.
“I don’t discredit those, but I don’t think they’re totally sufficient,” Ratcliffe said.
Gordon doesn’t say his methods can replace all other medicine — rather, that they can form the foundation for a broader approach on how people can take better care of their health.
“I’m not saying don’t use the drug. I’m saying don’t use it first. Let’s take a look at what else is available,” he said. “The approaches that we’re teaching are very simple approaches to self care that anyone can learn.”
Over the years, Gordon’s approach has attracted skeptics, even among the students in classes based on his methods.
For instance, in one of Watson’s classes, students practiced “expressive meditation.”
“We just let it all hang loose and shake everything,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done in my life.’ ”
She said they had to face the wall so they wouldn’t all laugh at each other.
Gordon said he’s seen other physicians reject his treatments because they fall outside the norm for treatment of chronic illnesses.
Watson still takes prescription drugs for her breast cancer, but after the eight-week class, she said she feels more energized.
And that “expressive meditation”?
“I sat down and felt so good,” she said. “I said, ‘Isn’t this something?’ “
Caught up with work, life and traffic this week? It’s time to let go and unwind over the weekend.
Stress is a silent killer that claims many lives each year. Whether through cardiac issues, mental instabilities, or projections of unhappiness into one’s relationships, stress is not a weak enemy to conquer. And conquer we must. Today we’ve lined up our top five tips for combating stress. So, take off those work shoes, release the tension in your shoulders and neck, and settle down to read some de-stressing news.
Take a mental vacation
Who wouldn’t mind a relaxing vacation on a beach, away from life’s daily stresses from work, socialising and technology. The constant battle for ‘me’ time leaves most of us frustrated and exhausted week after working and socialising week. Whether it’s constant connectivity to social media, your Blackberry, or endless computing work at a work station, we think it’s time you took a mental vacation for a day – right where you are – in your city, even in your own home.
Meditation through visualization
Life Coach Malti Bhojwani takes us through the technique of visualization and how it can help us meditate effectively, and in a way that we can affect positive change in our lives.
Meditation has many connotations and some of them may trigger different reactions from all of us. When I was younger, I thought it was the most boring thing anyone could indulge in and I conjured up an image of bearded yogis up in the Himalayas who starved and smelled. Today however, thanks to the holistic awareness, movements towards personal development and the amalgamation of Eastern and Western thoughts becoming more and more popular, meditation has taken on a more marketable name.
I meditate and in my personal experience, I call it ‘plugging-in’ In fact as I am working on my book, there is an entire chapter dedicated solely to “plugging into the Universe”.
Visualization to me is constant, I think with images in my mind. If I asked you now, whatever you do, do not think of a blue ball, what happens? Exactly, you conjure up an image of a blue ball and I might even guess that it showed in the top right hand corner of your “internal screen”. The premise is that you can’t visualize nothing, and what you visualize, you are giving power to, so if you “see” pictures of what you don’t want, guess what? You will end up attracting what you don’t want. We cannot bring into our world what we have not been able to at least imagine first.
Stressed due to exams? Try these foods
Oranges: Studies suggest that when a child is under too much pressure his/her vitamin C levels tend to dip, thus making him/her more vulnerable to illnesses. So, incorporate oranges in their diet.
Spinach: Spinach is a rich source of iron and calcium along with vitamin A. Iron in spinach helps in developing a strong immunity and helps in developing social and cognitive development during childhood as it aids in the formation of haemoglobin and essential enzymes. Calcium, on the other hand, helps in the formation of strong bones and vitamin A is beneficial in reducing eye strain to a great extent.
Water: Water aids digestion and helps avoid conditions related to stressed kidneys and constipation. It helps regulate and maintain body temperature. Water also aids several other functions within the human body that relate to energy, wakefullness and performance.
Milk: Ideally, around 600 milligrams of calcium daily is a must for school going children. Calcium is important for physical development in children, and helps build immunity as well.
Protein: Whether through eggs, dairy or meat, adequate quantities of protein is a must for a child’s growth. An appropriate supply of protein leads to muscle boosts and helps your child remain physically alert, active and fit.
How to reduce stress in daily life
Tips to control stress: In order to lead a healthy and stress-free life, it is vital to follow certain guidelines or steps. They will help you get a better control over life and alter the way you view stress or its trigger factors.
Regular exercise: Not surprisingly, exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stress. A regular 20-30 minutes of physical activity every day is vital to decrease stress hormones like cortisol and increase your body’s feel good chemicals called endorphins. Besides this, certain forms of exercise like martial arts or boxing can act as an outlet for releasing all your vent-up emotions and frustrations.
Relaxation techniques: This not only involves taking time to relax everyday but also employing certain basic relaxation techniques. This involves deep breathing techniques, meditation and practicing different yoga postures to relax your body muscles.
Balanced diet: What you put inside your body also determines your ability to cope with stress or anxiety. A balanced diet comprising fresh fruits and vegetables is a must to reverse the negative impacts of stress and lead a healthy life.
Avoid stressful situations: As far as possible, ensure that you avoid unnecessary arguments, conflicts or any other stressful situation. Try to keep yourself calm in every way and avoid indulging in unnecessary situations.
Sleep: Finally, a regular 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is also important to relax your mind and body. If you face any difficulty in sleep, you can also make use of relaxation techniques like listening to music or reading a book.
Beat stress with these yoga poses
Corpse Pose or Shavasan: Lie flat on the back with legs together and (palms facing up) arms close to the body. Relax your body and mind with this pose.
Half-moon Pose or Ardhachandra-asana: This pose benefits the lower back, abdomen and chest by stretching and balancing the body. Start with your feet together and arms by the side. Bring both the hands at the chest with palms lightly pressed against each other. Breathe-in while raising the arms straight up keeping palms pressed lightly together. Arch your body backwards while keeping the arms alongside your neck and head.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose or Adho Mukha Svanasana: The Adho Mukha Svanasana helps to cure backaches, relieve stress and mild depression and revitalizes energy.
Forward Bend Pose or Padahastasana: Stand straight with arms by your side, exhale and bend touching the floor with your hand. This pose helps in stretching the hamstring of the legs and helps spine and internal organs.
Straight Angle Pose or Samakonasana: Start the asana with sitting on the ground and stretch the legs forward. Keep you legs straight and be rested on the ground. Now, slowly stretch your legs sideways so that it should form a straight line and keep the body straight. Stay in this posture for a few seconds and then slowly bring back the legs to the normal position.
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“I wish I could just get some sleep!”
For ten years, since hitting the period leading up to and into menopause, I have rarely slept through the night. At first it started out with hot flashes and night sweats waking me up several times most nights. Eventually I also began having trouble falling asleep. Some would tell me it was just from anxiety about the frequent mid-night awakenings. Perhaps, but I don’t really think so…because I had experienced anxiety for several years during my 20’s and early 30’s and this is nothing like that.
I don’t do well with medicines so I tried various natural treatments purported to help – melatonin, soy, black cohosh, calcium and magnesium supplements, cool room temperature, eye masks, deep breathing techniques, soothing music, even a clock with nature sounds. Most helped some but nothing consistently so nor long term. As I continued to search for options and alternative therapies, I wondered if the tool I used to heal my anxiety and panic attacks – self-hypnosis – could work for this, too. The problem was that I couldn’t find the right combination of voice tonal quality, narrative and background sounds. Some where icky-sweet, others a bit too “woo woo” for my taste and many were irritatingly repetitive. Then I stumbled across binaural music for sleep.
I had learned of binaural beats for synchronizing the two hemispheres of the brain when researching non-medication techniques and therapies for my son’s ADHD. I loved the demo CD I got of Holo Sync from Centrepointe Research Institute and found the combination of rain, harmonic bowls and deep chimes to be both soothing and energizing (so, unfortunately, no bedtime use for me! My son has yet to try it so I can’t speak to whether or not it is helpful for ADHD focus and organization but hope to be able to bring you a review later.) Because of the energizing aftereffects, I scratched it off my list and kept looking.
Months later I came across binaural beats with music for sleep. After my previous experience I couldn’t think how this combination could possibly help but I downloaded a half-dozen different demo recordings to try out the various styles and combinations. What I discovered was very different from the Holo Sync. Instead of distinct, non-melodic bell tones, all I heard in each was a slight hum behind the music (or thunderstorm in one case.) I was sure anything so minimal would be ineffective. I was wrong.
For over a week now I have used either Pentatonic Waves or a minor song in minor c (both downloadable from Sleepphones) followed by 15 minutes of Mentallion’s Healing Binaural Beats Storm. I am falling asleep within 30-45 minutes (compared to my usual 2-3 hours) and sleeping soundly and without interruption for 6 to 7 hours! Ahhhh, what a relief!
The biggest issue I have now is finding a more comfortable set of stereo headphones (required for listening to all binaural recordings.) This is a problem I don’t mind having!
Russell Simmons meditates. So does Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund. New research uncovers the management benefits: increased focus, control, and regulation of emotions. Om.
Harley Murphy, who heads the Ireland operations of BNY Mellon, used to lie awake at night unable to sleep because of an avalanche of problems facing his division during the banking crisis. ”I’d go to the office each day feeling exhausted and was beginning to feel miserable,” says Murphy. He found it difficult to think clearly and make confident decisions. He looked for ways to get back on track and then, as part of a leadership training session, took a meditation class. After 30 minutes, he began to relax and focus. ”I couldn’t believe it,” says Murphy.
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons meditates. So does Ray Dalio, the 61-year-old founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s biggest hedge fund. Bill Ford’s a big advocate. Steve Jobs was often associated with the practice. Facebook, Ebay, and General Mills execs are meditators. Google set up separate rooms so senior staff would be able to pursue it. What is meditation? And why should you do it? Among entrepreneurs and business leaders, meditation is an increasingly popular seated practice that encourages alertness in the present moment, a pause to relax and focus, and, ultimately, a re-centering to lead better.
Over the past decade, wellness programs, specifically those that emphasize improving employee physical fitness and nutrition, have received significant funding from corporate human resources programs. The goal: alleviate stress in the workplace and help promote work-life balance. Recently meditation got a toehold too, riding the increasing popularity of Eastern traditions, from yoga to Zen Buddhism.
”It’s a case for performance,” says executive coach Ray Williams who has spent the past 12 years helping leaders take off the edge. ”Because leaders are under so much stress and because there is that performance requirement you have to look at how to be much more productive and better at what you do.”
Meditation is not just about finding yourself. Scientific studies show the positive affects of meditation on the brain. Last year, an article in Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging by researchers from Harvard Medical School, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the Bender Institute of Neuroimaging in Germany, found that brain activity changed in a group of 16 participants who had not previously meditated. Among the enhancements: learning and memory processes, emotional regulation, and perspective taking. Meanwhile a study at American University published in 2009 in Cognitive Processing found that college students who meditated experienced enhanced brain activity. Here’s how:
Focus on what matters. What the scientific research is getting at, says Michael Carroll, who teaches meditation as part of becoming a more mindful leader, is that meditation can help leaders pay attention to what really matters. ”There is so much information coming at us, we struggle to remain agile which is the most critical leadership skill. The practice teaches us to slow down instead of trying to be faster, better, or quicker, and rush past our experience instead of trying to have it.”
More control. Meditation enables leaders to stay in the present moment as opposed to worrying about the next dismal economic report or upcoming quarterly earning. Not that those things are not important. ”Often leaders get caught up in what happens next versus what is in front of them right now,” explains Williams, the executive coach. By dealing with what you can control and letting go of what you cannot, you can make better decisions. It also helps to approach problems in a non-judgmental and non-reactive way. The more in control you are, the more you can focus on what you are going to do. ”Really great leaders are in complete control of their emotions even in the worst situations,” he adds.
Better stress management. The best part about meditation is that anyone can do it–anywhere–for free. ”This is something that executives can do anytime, while waiting in line at an airport, or waiting at a stop light in the car,” according to Dr. Martyn Newman, author of Emotional Captalists: The New Leaders, and managing director of leadership consulting firm RocheMartin. You don’t have to go off on a ten-day mountain retreat, or take up yoga or tai chi. Dr. Newman recently taught meditation skills to executives at one of Asia’s largest telecommunications companies and reports that participants said they were better prepared to handle stress and conflict and felt more productive after practicing meditation techniques.
How do you do it? Here are five easy steps to meditate and establish calm.
1. Pause. Turn off cell phones, blackberries, and computers, and give yourself a moment of quiet. The immediate physical impact: blood pressure decreases, and brain activity is less frenzied.
2. Get comfortable. Get into a favorite chair or sit on a cushion. The physical environment should not be a distraction.
3. Focus on your breath. Observe the in-and-out flow of your breath, and stay focused on that sensation. Breathe from your diaphragm not your chest.
4. Clear your mind. Put the to-do list aside. ”Think to yourself, ‘I’ll catch up with this thought later,’ not ‘Don’t think of this because it will only make your mind wander’,” says Williams.
5. Practice every day. A meditation session can be as short as five minutes, sitting on the edge of the bed when you first wake up. There is no formula. Make it work for you.
Quiet achievers… focusing your mind is easier than you think.
Meditation’s power to heal and motivate make it powerful in the office or home, writes Isobel King.
Yoga long ago shed its hippie image to establish a loyal mainstream following. Now, another Eastern discipline, meditation, is following a similar path as more people discover its significant recuperative powers.
The technique practiced by Buddhist monks for centuries has even made its way into corporate boardrooms, with enlightened companies quick to catch on to its benefits as an effective stress-management tool.
Converts enthusiastically reel off the merits of meditation, from better sleep and concentration, to improved productivity and a greater resilience to life’s ups and downs.
More compelling, however, is growing research that shows regular meditation can bring about positive changes in our brains and aid in the healing process. The mind-and-body connection fundamental to Eastern philosophy and its disciplines is proving a powerful salve for our pressured Western way of life.
What is meditation?
There are many styles of meditation but all are aimed at focusing on an object or activity to still the mind and letting go of busy, distracting thoughts to achieve a deep sense of calm. Popular techniques include concentrating on the patterns of the breath; using a mantra, a word or phrase repeated out loud or silently; and guided meditation, which talks participants through a series of visualizations.
Mindfulness meditation aims at developing a heightened awareness of what is going on around you, reducing stress and countering negative thoughts and emotions. Thoughts and feelings are acknowledged but not acted on.
Experiment with different techniques to find the one that best suits you. Once mastered, meditation can be practiced almost anywhere – “in the shower or sitting at a red traffic light”, says Kevin Hume, director of the Sydney Meditation Centre, who runs six-week courses and offers one-on-one tuition. Daily practice will deliver the best results – anything from five minutes to 20 minutes. See it as “a daily shower for the mind”, Hume says.
Who will benefit?
Who wouldn’t benefit from a less jangled state of mind? “From the first time you meditate, you’ll find you’re a lot more aware of your thoughts,” says director of Total Balance Group and meditation teacher, Kate James.
She says the techniques are straightforward and available to anybody. James took up the practice 20 years ago and, as a result of the immediate benefits she felt, James has made it part of her daily routine ever since.
Meditation provides instant relief from a busy mind, so those feeling stressed or suffering from sleep problems, anxiety or depression have a lot to gain.
Unfortunately, it often takes a life crisis – mental or physical – to encourage people to try meditation. Hume says about 95 per cent of people he sees are from the corporate sector, with men and women in equal number. Many of them are “burnt-out, battle-stressed and worked to exhaustion”.
Effects on the brain
In a well-known study conducted by the University of Wisconsin and headed by neuroscientist Professor Richard Davidson, the brain activity of novice meditators was compared with that of Buddhist monks who had spent more than 10,000 hours in meditation.
About two-thirds of the experienced meditators were Tibetan monks, recruited with the help of the Dalai Lama. Brain scans carried out while the monks were meditating found activity in the left prefrontal cortex (the area associated with positive emotions, such as happiness, and control and regulation of attention) far outweighed activity in the right prefrontal (site of negative emotions and anxiety).
The results was considered groundbreaking proof that mental exercise could change brain function. Since then, considerable research has been done into the physiological effects of meditation.
Hume says the evidence is conclusive that regular meditation changes body chemistry, with positive effects on blood pressure, metabolic rate and the digestive system. “In effect, it defuses the flight-or-fight response [the biological response to perceived danger, which releases adrenalin and increases the heart rate],” he says.
“Anxiety levels drop, body chemistry changes and the immune system is pumped up.”
Even the elite sports world has caught on to the power of meditation, using it to improve an athlete’s ability to focus and improve performance. Maybe all of us could benefit from that daily mental shower.
Bhanumati Narasimhan talks to Narayani Ganesh on her return from the US where she participated in a global meet of First Ladies that included Michelle Obama. The group discussed fashion, stress and depression and the need for bringing about positive change.
What kind of insights were shared at the Manhattan meeting? Could you elaborate on the theme: ‘Giving back is the new luxury’?
A ‘giving’ nature is an integral part of being spiritual. Spirituality is a caring and sharing attitude, a sense of belongingness with the whole cosmos, balance and centredness. When we are spiritual, we ask: ‘What can I do for you, for society?’, rather than, ‘What has this world done for me?’ There is a paradigm shift in attitude as we move from being demanding to giving and sharing. In this light, this theme of ‘giving back’ is already so beautiful and spiritual. Fashion is something that everyone wants to follow. Today, spirituality is the in-thing; the ability to delve deeper, to be balanced and have an unshakable smile, to care and to share with this whole creation – this is certainly fashionable.
Depression is growing among both men and women around the world. It is showing up in children, too. How could we deal with this? There is a story from Buddha’s life. He once asked his disciples to bring him a towel. He knotted the towel and asked them, ‘Is it the same towel now?’
Yes it is; however, it cannot be useful because of the knot. Fear, hate and other such negative emotions are nothing but love, knotted. When the mind is clear, then there is love, peace, joy, enthusiasm and dynamism. When it is knotted, then negative emotions, stress, depression all arise. I was shocked to hear that 30 percent of women are depressed. It is important that we wake up and take care of our mind a little, clear up the knots, and this is where spiritual practices can help. A little meditation can cleanse the mind and keep it fresh and free from sorrow. I feel this is a necessity in today’s fast-paced life. Just a few minutes of deep relaxation that meditation brings can go a long way in making our life stress-free and full of joy and enthusiasm.
As Director, Women’s Empowerment and Child Care Projects of The Art of Living, what are the key areas you focus on?
As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s sister, I share his vision for a stress-free and violence-free society. I’m committed to education, especially for girl children in remote areas where going to school is a rare privilege. We have started 175 schools in 19 states where over 25,000 children are being given free holistic education. I am happy to say that close to 51 percent are girls. Besides providing nutritious meals in the school for these children from very poor families, there is also food for the mind. They are taught simple but powerful breathing techniques and meditation.
This helps them develop the skills to deal with their emotions besides greatly improving their communication skills and inner strength. Today, these children are rays of hope for their families. I hope they will be strong pillars of society tomorrow.
How would you motivate an urban woman who is often overworked with multiple responsibilities?
Usually, all our stress is due to some insecurities, loss or negative emotions. Neither at home, nor at school are we taught how to deal with stress and negative emotions. It is important to take up activities like listening to music, meditation, keeping good company, sharing pleasant thoughts, reading good books, developing a caring and sharing attitude towards people. This broadens our vision, creates a sense of belongingness and makes us calm. All these are antidotes to stress. A woman is the heart of a family. She brings people of diverse natures together. She is also the heart of society. If she is empowered in the right direction, progress will follow. And spirituality brings that inner strength and confidence that empowers her which is essential for the wholesome wellness of our society.
People resort to a number of costly and at times vague methods to fight stress and anxiety in the present times. No doubt the levels of stress in present times are much higher as compared to the past but the solutions don’t have to be extravagant and hard to achieve.
From spas and therapy to coffee shops and pubs, we go to any lengths trying to get rid of that haunting stress resulting from our bustling lifestyles. However, if we just dig a bit deeper into our minds, we will realize that there are rather simple meditation techniques that can handle stress better; and guess what? There’s not a single penny involved.
Something as simple as the correct breathing pattern goes a long way in handling stress. When you are relaxed or asleep, do you realize how your breathing pattern is? You breathe slow and easy when you are relaxed or asleep. On the other hand, when you are upset, angry, nervous or anxious, your breathing pattern becomes irregular and fast. This results in increased heart rate and blood pressure. Our state of mind and our bodily functions are truly interconnected. The correct breathing pattern can act as a mediator to maintain a balance.
Any meditation done for stress relief and good health is designed to relax your senses. It is important to keep your back straight while meditating. Choose the best technique to ensure optimum health and fitness. Many meditation instructors will first ask you to concentrate on a point with closed eyes.
For this technique, you need to sit down with your back straight and your hands resting on your knees or thighs. Look ahead without focusing on any particular object and try closing your eyes. Concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing. During this process, you need to inhale with you nose and exhale with your mouth. Once you begin inhaling, make sure it is smooth and slow. Hold the breath in the pit of your stomach for four seconds. When you inhale, the lower lungs should be filled first as you push out your abdomen. You can then progressively fill your middle and upper lungs. Gradually increase the four seconds to seven seconds and finally eight seconds. Make sure these cycles are as smooth and gradual as possible. As you exhale, let out all your anxiety and distress. Once you’re done with one round of this exercise, you can continue to do 10-12 rounds which can gradually be increased. You can also adopt this method whenever you feel stressed and anxious.
This meditation technique helps calm your mind and also tones your nervous system. Regulated breathing also balances your emotions and makes you better equipped to deal with stress. This method can be practiced anywhere and at anytime, so the next time you feel bobbed down with stress, you know what to do.
Learn more about meditation methods
In modern times, stress has emerged as a major cause of ailments and nothing is more effective in reducing stress than yoga, said Dr Hasmukh Adhia, principal secretary, education department, Gujarat, on Friday.
Adhia was speaking on ‘Yoga for Wellness’ before a jam-packed hall at Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA). He said stress could be caused by external factors such as family worries, financial problems or calamities.
It can also be caused by internal factors unique to the individual, such as hypersensitivity, high ambition and unrealistic targets, Adhia said. But yoga restores harmony between body and mind so that the body can beat the stress, he added.
Explaining how yoga works, Adhia said that human self is enveloped by five koshas (sheaths): Annamaya kosha (body), pranmaya (life force), manomaya (emotional existence), vijanmaya (conscience) and anandamaya (bliss) kosha.
“Yoga involves gaining mastery over the perturbations of the mind. It teaches you how to calm your mind because health and happiness are all that we need. Most diseases are born of stress,” said Adhia.
He further said that yoga consists of body postures, breathing techniques, meditation and logical understanding of meaning of life, among others.
He also listed four aspects of asana that differentiate them from any form of physical exercise. “Asanas are different from physical exercise as they are generally done slowly, maintaining body posture, and with awareness. They also include relaxation, coordinated with breathing, after every posture. If you do Surya Namaskar (it has 12 asanas), it helps the body a lot,” he said.
According to Adhia, meditation is the relaxation of the body, rhythmic breathing with awareness, sitting in silence, and trying to be without thoughts by focusing on some object.
Referring to the Puranas, he said they teach us how to have the right attitude towards life, friendship for all, compassion for the less privileged, feeling happy for those who are ahead of us and avoiding people who are difficult to handle.