STOP ✋ Anxiety

in its Tracks

I’ve been a devoted student of focused breathing for over four decades. In all my years, I’ve never experienced anything quite as profound as the power of stillness for relieving stress and restoring a sense of peace by quieting the incessant noise most of us have going on in our minds.

Why does deep breathing keep you calm…even at a time when you would normally get jittery or anxious? Scientists at Stanford University have recently discovered a possible answer…. They discovered a small bundle of neurons that seem to control most aspects of breathing and called the “breathing pacemaker.” It connects breathing to states of mind. This group of neurons communicates what’s happening in the brain’s respiratory control center with structures responsible for generating arousal throughout the brain. The study shows how slow breathing induces tranquility. In yoga, we consider the breath to be the link between the mind and the body.

By focusing on the rhythm of my breath throughout the day, I find that I can stay relaxed, even during stressful situations. Yogarupa Rod Stryker, the founder of ParaYoga®, has been a major influence in my yoga practice.  In this video, Rod gives me detailed instructions on how to perform a transformative breathing technique, called Ujjayi breathing.

Ujjayi breathing is produced by softly whispering the long syllable ahhhh—as you let your breath out and in, slowly and evenly. The slight pressure at the back of the palate makes the breathing audible, like the hush of the ocean in a cave, and regulates the speed of the air, helping keep the tempo smooth and slow.

During the day if you’re starting to fill anxious and triggered, break your typical pattern with this simple breathing technique. It will allow you to slow down, and find a quiet place of understanding that can change how you think and feel for the rest of the day. It can be very powerful. This simple technique has helped many people change their relationship with stress and worry.