A Breath A Day Keeps the Stress Away

Wouldn’t that be the best if one breath really melted all the stress away? In Yoga it is said that if one is able to breathe easily without any discomfort then the body is in complete harmony and health. For most of us it’s hard to know what our breath is doing from moment to moment. Every thought, emotion or situation elicits a corresponding breath. Have you ever noticed how you breathe in a traffic jam? Take a moment right now and notice your breath; is it soft and slow? Fast and tense? Is it easier to breathe into the chest or belly? There is never a problem with our breath it does what it does through years of habitual responses to the everyday stresses that life presents. But if you watch a baby’s natural breath you’ll see it rests in the belly.

Abdominal breathing is the most healing and calming breath and perfect for settling us down. Teaching the body to breathe as fully and completely as possible using both abdominal breathing and chest breathing balances the nervous system. A chest breath engages the sympathetic nervous system, the energising part of the system and the abdominal breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system or the relaxed part of the system. Balance between energy and relaxation brings a sense of calm to the body, mind and emotions. Qualities needed to deal with a challenging and sometimes frustrating disease like Diabetes.

Follow the photos and instructions below to learn a Full Complete Yogic Breath. Even practicing this for a few minutes when you first wake up or at the end of the day will remind your body to breathe better in times of stress… have a beautiful breathing day… with respect Rachel

Rachel Zinman Yoga the importance of breath

Lie on the back with knees bent feet slightly forward of the hips. Place both hands on the abdomen, tips of the middle fingers touching. Become aware of the breath. Notice the inhale and the exhale

On the inhalation expand the abdomen so that the fingers come apart. On the exhalation feel the abdomen releasing and relaxing, fingers coming together. Repeat this a few times

Rachel Zinman Yoga the Importance of  Breath

Place your hands on the sides of the ribs. Have your thumbs at the back of the ribcage and your four fingers at the front

On the inhalation feel how the sides of the ribs expand and lift. On the exhalation notice how the ribs come together and the abdomen relaxes as per above.  Repeat a few times

Rachel Zinman Yoga Importance of Breath

Place one hand on the belly and one hand just below the collarbones

On the inhalation feel the abdomen expand, the side ribs expand and lift and the upper chest and collarbones lift. On the exhalation, feel the abdomen; ribcage and upper chest relax all at the same time. One movement melting into the next. Practice this Full Complete Breath a few times. Then relax and come back to a natural breath

Set Your Intention

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Happy New Year! It’s the beginning of another year and like everyone I am so excited to implement some new routines and try to let go of some challenging habits. I learned long ago that New Years Resolutions don’t really work.  In the short term they might motivate us back to an exercise program or encourage us to change our diet but ultimately we want to make a lasting change; one that can carry us past the initial excitement of trying something new.

I always start the year with a beautiful meditation to set my intention. An intention is different to a resolution. An intention gives you room to breathe. You might have the intention to check your blood sugar more often, be more vigilant with counting carbs or even work on your emotional relationship to your health. An intention says, “I’ll do my best” rather than “I must get this right”. In Yoga when we practicing a posture if we feel we need to resolve the pose it will actually limit us. Having the intention to do our best means we may not do it perfectly but eventually we will learn to surrender to what is.

Meditation  practice works in the same way. If you have always avoided meditation because you think you need to stop thinking, or you can’t sit still or meditation just isn’t for you. Think again. Meditation is actually concentration and studies have found that two factors need to be present in order to elicit whats called the Relaxation Response. 1. You need to perform a repetitive activity.  2. With the intention to let go of the thoughts in the mind.

So why not join me in setting your intention for the New Year …. with great respect Rachel