Did you know most of us, most of the time are functioning on ‘fight or flight?’ This means our sympathetic nervous system response; our body’s reaction to being chased by a bear, famine, or war is being used similarly to deal with work deadlines, family stress and an anxious mind. When the sympathetic nervous system is at play, we are releasing cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, causing weight gain and an overall pause to the proper function of the body.
So, how do we come back? How do we regulate back to a parasympathetic nervous system, where we are regulating our body’s processes, digesting, metabolizing, and overall optimal function?
One deep breath. Yep, that’s all it takes. One, truly deep breath can switch us back to our homeostasis – calm, internal function, and a sense of “ahhhhh, I’m OK.”
Ujjayi (pronounced “oot – jie – ee,” where “jie” rhymes with “pie”) breathing is a technique that trains the body to achieve homeostatic balance. Learning to feel this transition will come over time and with practice. This balance of body can be channeled into positive thinking, confidence, relaxation and other personality developments that reduce stress and provide for healthy living. Mindfulness around such internal well-being will increase motivation and can translate directly into physical ability.
Basics: Place a hand in front of your mouth – exhale as if you were fogging up a mirror. You’ll notice a soft vibration in the back of the throat, where the epiglottal muscles are being used. Now try again and see if you can close your mouth but keep that soft vibration and gentle humming sound as you exhale. Now try it on the inhale. Notice how much longer and slower you can breathe.
The list of health benefits tied to yoga and ujjayi breathing is long. Give it a try. It’s a great way to begin your wellness journey. You will develop focus and discipline while finding confidence and experiencing personal development. And hey, who doesn’t want to be ‘victorious?’
Learn how to do ujaii breathing with this video tutorial:
Or join one of our mindfulness workshops where this technique is just one of the many awesome mindfulness tools you’ll learn.
Brown, R. P., & Gerbarg, P. L. (2009). Yoga Breathing, Meditation, and Longevity. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1172(1), 54-62.
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