Getting married reminded me of just how powerful yogic breathing can be. Everyone warned me about how stressful wedding planning is. The warnings did not prepare me for the reality. Balancing my never ending wedding to do list, along with teaching yoga, my job, and relationship was no small feat.
Yogis Get Overwhelmed Too
I’d love to tell you that due to my 15 years yoga practice, stress just bounced off me, but that would be a lie. The reality is that being a yogi doesn’t mean you don’t get frazzled or overwhelmed, but yoga does give you more tools to manage stress and re-center. And boy did I need those tools!
The closer the wedding got, the harder it was to turn my mind off. Meditation didn’t even help. Thankfully, I had other calming practices in my yoga toolkit. Breathing practices are a great way to get your mind right for meditation. Since that wasn’t happening, I just focused on breathing. My go to practice was nadi shodana.
Getting My Mind Right
Nadi Shodana or alternate nostril breathing is a calming yogic breath designed to create balance and draw your focus inward. While Nadi Shoda is a relatively easy breathing technique, it required just enough focus to distract my mind. After ten minutes of this breath, my shoulders relaxed, my mind eased and the tension in my belly loosened. Not surprising as studies have found that long, slow deep breathing techniques like alternate nostril breathing, activate the body’s relaxation response.
Natural Anti-dote to Stress
The relaxation response is the body’s natural anti-dote to the stress response. When we get stressed, our body is on high alert. Your heart rate and blood pressure increases, cortisol and adrenaline are released, and digestion slows as blood moves away from your internal organs. All stress is not bad, and there are times when our body needs to be activated. The problem is when we’re chronically stressed and the body never relaxes. This is when you can truly benefit from the power of slow, deep breathing practices which trigger the body’s relaxation response.
I can attest to the calming power of Nadi shodana. Doing this breath for ten minutes a day gave me a few precious moments of calm and grounding that went a long way. Exactly what I needed so I didn’t turn into bridezilla.
Want to learn more about yogic breathing? Join me for my upcoming workshop on Breathing & Pranayama. Click here for more information.