May 26, 2011

Pranayama to release stress

Breathing right, alleviates hosts of maladies, stress being one of them.  Of late, if you are feeling too stressed out and drained of energy, you might want to check  whether you are breathing right. You should breathe through the nose and not through the mouth.  Nasal breathing has tremendous health benefits - your oxygen intake is increased, the air that your breathe is partially purified  and humidified or rather filtered by the cilia (fine hair) in the nostrils, your lungs will be healthier  and so on and so forth - the advantages are multiple. On the other hand, breathing through the mouth has lots of disadvantages. Have you seen babies breathe? They breathe through the nose in a rhythmic, regular manner. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why they smile a lot and are so happy and stress-free.

According to yoga and traditional Chinese medicine, breathing through the nose is a must for good health and a relaxed state of mind. Normally one of our nostrils is dominant, that is, we can easily breathe easily through one of our nostrils at time, while the other is congested. Each nostril alternates about every three hours. While the right nostril stands for Pingala / Yang (in Chinese terminology) energy and has the energy of the sun: bright, fiery, awakening and male, the left stands for the Ida / Yin (in Chinese terminology) energy, which  is the moon energy: reflective, calming, cooling, female. (Source) A breathing exercise that involves both the nostrils is ideal to restore the balance between 'hot and cold', 'yin and yang',  'fiery and calm' energies; it acts as a great stress-buster and calms your nerves. Here's one such simple breathing exercise that can de-stress you in a jiffy:
easy pranayama to release stress

Close your right nostril gently with your left hand ring finger and inhale slowly through the left one. Now close the left nostril with the thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat this for 10-12 counts at an easy pace, regularly without holding the breath. Then reverse the process, that is, inhale with the right nostril and exhale with the left.

Almost immediately, you'll notice the difference. There will a considerable improvement in your mood and you'll feel more cheerful, responsive and alert. However do not inhale beyond your capacity or take deep breaths or hold your breath (kumbaka) as you would do for other  pranayams; just breathe comfortably -  after all, you are not doing hardcore chandrabhedi or suryabhedan pranayama here (we'll talk about those pranayamas later) but just a simple breathing exercise to relax yourself. You can do this any time during the day up to three or four times in a day. But do ensure that there is a gap of at least 15-20 minutes if you wish to do it soon after a heavy meal.

P.S: Anuloma Viloma, that involves alternate nostril breathing and Bhramari Pranayama also help to relieve stress.

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  1. This was really fascinating. I love getting tips that can help me when I'm anywhere.

  2. Shivakumar Guruji9:13 AM

    Sheetali and Seetkari – Pranayama Helps deal with stress more effectively.

  3. Anonymous9:20 AM

    Balance of the body and breath provides a foundation for health. If your body is tense and your muscles are tight your breath will not have free movement and will not be effective

  4. Yoga Guru9:24 AM

    Using Ujjayi Pranayama can bring immediate relief in stressful situations.pranayama practice can be an effective solution to reducing stress in your life over the long term.

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  6. Brijesh11:26 AM

    Before you start any routine, take three long deep breaths. "Breath is the bridge from the mind to the body, so the place you set your mind affects your body,

  7. Anonymous10:28 AM

    I can only tell you my experience with this. I have had a few anxiety attacks in the last couple of years and what helps me is breathing in through my nose to the count of five and out through my mouth to the count of five. I use lung expansion because it seems to help me best. Researching it may not really do any good. Each persons technique for handling their anxiety attacks is different and you just need to find what's right for you. Another thing that helps me is identifying (out loud) objects around me. It doesn't have to be certain things, just focus on and say what's around you. I don't know why this works but it really does. Good luck and remember that they are just anxiety attacks and it will end soon and you will be okay.

  8. Bhagyashree9:45 AM

    Eating grains, vegetables and fruits loaded with complex carbohydrates, such as spaghetti, baked beans and apples, can trigger the release of hormones that will help relax you.


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