Do you ever get stressed out on your commute? Rush hour traffic, delays, packed out trains, platforms, tourist and people walking too slow! At times just getting to work can be unpleasant and doesn't exactly help us get our day off to a great start.
So what can we do? If leaving before or after rush hour isn't an option and we must navigate through the dreaded tube or subway system we can try our best not be reactive to all the stress and energy around us. One of the simplest things we can do is breath awareness and infact this simple exercise is great for all stressful situations whether we are stuck in traffic or having heated debate. Both external stressors and our emotions and state of mind affect our breath.
How to practice breath awareness on the train...
Breath awareness exercises can be refined over time. After a while you may start slipping it into your daily routine, allowing you to stay calm and centered.
Until Next time.. Happy Commuting
Making a connection to your breath in your Yoga practice can be transformative. All to often we hold, stain or ignore the breath which can create tension in our bodies and minds. Exactly the opposite result of what we want from our Yoga class! Here are some top tips to encourage more breath and awareness during your Yoga practice.
Yoga is a practice of awareness.
Next time you attend a class or practice yourself, take a moment, mid flow to become aware of your breath. Ask yourself, 'Am I breathing?' 'How am I breathing?' Then....allow yourself to breathe!
You should be able to breathe at all times.
Notice if your breath becomes very shallow or stained. If you are having difficulty breathing it could be a sign you should back off a little on the intensity of the pose.
In Yoga we generally in inhale and exhale through the nose.
It is thought to be the best way to keep energy within the body. There maybe occasions we exhale through the mouth in order to give a feeling of release for a short period of time.
Surround your movement with breath.
The breath can initiate the movement. Coordinating the physical movement with breath creates flow and ease in our body. Timing your breath with the movement can be challenging, especially in a class with inhale/exhale cues from the Yoga instructor. Within reason, we would say always follow the timing of your own body and breath. It would be practically impossible for all the people in a Yoga class to be breathing at the same time for the duration of the class. The Yoga instructors cues are just meant as a guide and reminder.
Do we inhale or exhale in this movement/pose?
Forward bending postures are linked with the exhalation, a feeling of release, surrender and closing. Backward bending postures are linked with the inhalation, a feeling a wakening, joy and opening. Twists are normally practiced with an exhalation as we turn (as there is less space in the lungs as we twist) and an inhalation to return. This is a general way the breath is used to compliment a physical Yoga practice and why a Yoga instructor would be giving certain cues. The reasons why can be elaborated on and it is a massive subject, with some reasons why the above may vary too.
In a Yoga class, there maybe hundreds of inhale/exhale cues, strange new breathing techniques, other people breathing loudly around you and some people barely breathing at all! When in doubt the best thing to do is just breathe normally :)
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Lots of love
Hana and Aya xxx
The deep abdominal breath, also known as diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, is one of the best stress reducing techniques there this. As adults we often develop slightly abnormal ways of breathing. This can be due to our body taking on strained or irregular postures as result of daily and a life time of emotion and physical stresses. Sometimes we start to breath into the top of our chests using muscles around the shoulders and neck, shallow breathing, holding our breath in, holding our breath out, all of these can be a result of stress, and in turn cause us stress. This can often lead to a vicious cycle.
We are stressed so we restrict our breath = Our breath is restricted so we feel stressed
The deep abdominal breath can take us back to our most natural and effective way to breath. If you look at babies and animals, you will see they are breathing fully with their whole bodies. You will see an easy rise and fall of their relaxed bellies. This way of breathing is the most effective way to bring blood and oxygen to our brain and bodies and strengthening the diaphragm. A regular practice of the deep abdominal breath can bring us back home to ourselves and our own true nature to be calm and happy. So stop holding your breath, stop holding your belly, allow yourself to breath deeply like a happy Buddha with a big round belly and enjoy! Here is an easy way to get you started.
Deep Abdominal Breath
1. Lie on the floor, bending the legs so that the knees are pointing to the ceiling and the soles of the feet are on the floor, hip width apart.
2. Place one hand on the heart centre (the centre of the chest) and the other on the belly.
3.Close the eyes. Inhale into the lower belly, feel the hand on your belly rising, exhale feel the hand falling.
4. The hand on the heart should remain soft and still. Simply watch the rise and fall of the hand on the belly (lower abdomen)
5. Then try counting the breath backwards from 7 -1. Inhale think 7, exhale think 7, inhale 6, exhale 6 and so on.
6. When you complete the counts, allow the breath to return to normal. Roll to the side and use the hands to make your way up to sitting. Om Shanti! (peace)
Practice with Hana's Recording Below!