The Breath: Reduce Stress and Find Your Inner Peace – part 2
As we continue our experiment with Pranayama, let us examine more deeply the benefits of reduced stress and the impact on our bodies, our psych and our lives.
From the Mayo Clinic and other medical reports, we learn that stress may be affecting our health without our awareness. There are many common effects of stress on the body including headaches, muscle tension, chest pains, fatigue and sleep problems. Stress can have many negative impacts on our bodies and contribute to serious health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Our psyche, sometimes defined as our human soul, mind or spirit, is the reflection of our being in the universe. It is our mental state. Stress can cause many issues including anxiety, restlessness, irritability, sadness or depression. Our lives, which are always a challenge to keep in balance, can be thrown way off balance by continued stress. Stress can eventually lead to destructive life styles and behavior like over or under eating, drug or alcohol abuse, and social withdrawal.
So how can pranayama help with stress? Pranayama quiets the mind and allows the mind to rest. Through pranayama, one can experience an expansion of the mind and freshness in ones perspective. Pranayama keeps us focus on our life force, the breath, and keeps us in the present moment, which is all we truly have since the past is gone and the future is yet to be. A great deal of stress is generated from living in the past or the future.
So here is another pranayama to practice called four-part breathing. To start, find a quiet calm place to sit and begin to become aware of your breath. Four part breathing consists of an inhale, a hold, an exhale and a hold. Observe your breath without judgment. Exhale all the breath out of the body. Inhale through the nose for a slow count of four. Hold your breath in the body for a slow count of four. Exhale through the nose for a slow count of four. And then keep the breath out of the body for the same count of four. Repeat again with the inhale. Repeat this four-part breath a minimum of eight cycles for optimal benefit.
You may find that the last part, the holding of the breath out of the body, to be the most difficult. Sit in the quiet with this difficult part and think about why you are experiencing these feeling. Pranayama can open up blocks in our thinking and change the old thinking patterns that we are repeating. After the pranayama, check in with yourself, become aware of your feelings and see if you feel less inner stress.