Breath work, or pranayama in yoga, is an invaluable tool. Whenever we are anxious or stressed, turning our attention to our inhales and our exhales will calm the mind and the body.
There are many places in our lives where this knowledge comes in handy such as:
- Traffic jams
- A stressful work environment
- A restaurant with screaming babies
- Standing in line
- Making group decisions
Personally, I spend a lot of time driving. Now that school is back in session, I have been hitting a lot more traffic jams. This week alone, I arrived to two classes I was teaching about 5 minutes before the classes started. Holy Stress City!
However, I knew that getting my mind and my body worked up over the situation was not going to do me any good. So when I found myself getting angry, I intentionally returned to my breath work.
The Dirga Breath, or the yogic three-part breathing, is the simplest pranayama exercise there is. All you have to do is try to slow down your inhales and your exhales as if you are breathing through a straw.
Next, try putting your hand on your belly. On the inhale, try to make the hand move away from the spine. On the exhale, the hand moves back toward the spine.
Once you mastered the belly breathing, on your next inhale, the belly expands, and then the ribs expand. If you want, one hand can be on the belly and the other on the side body by the ribs.
Then, to complete the three-part breathing, try inhaling through the belly, then the ribcage, then all the way up to the very top of the collar bones by your neck. On the exhale, the chest falls, the ribcage collapses and the belly deflates.
Try taking many rounds of a full, slow three-part dirga breath. I guarantee you will feel better.
Just breathe, my friends, and everything will all be alright!