3 Breathing Exercises for Calm and Clarity

| 1/26/2018 12:35:00 PM

For centuries, we have known about the powerful connection between our breath and our mental state. While the yogis and healers of ancient days didn’t have any peer-reviewed research to back up their claims, they consistently used the breath, and mindful breathing practices, to center themselves. Through conscious breath, we can shift ourselves into a state of calm, clarity, and focus.

To breathe is far more than the physiological need for oxygen—it is the essence of life, the power to call something forth, the tingling undercurrent of our collective consciousness. And in addition to all these things, it is a powerful tool that we can mindfully manipulate to our healing advantage. Because our breath is so intricately linked to our other physiological functions and our mental state, when we focus on the breath, we can influence a multitude of other bodily responses: heart rate, blood pressure, digestion rate, inflammation, and cognition to name just a few.

man meditating outside
Photo by Pixabay

Enter the powerful yogic technique(s) of pranayama. This word is a combination of the two Sanskrit words, “prana” the universal life force/energy, and “yama” meaning to control. So in its very essence, pranayama is the way that we can control and manipulate our energy and life force with our breath. It’s been said that emotion = energy in motion, so it’s easy to see that our emotions and our breath are entwined.

Next time you find yourself getting worked up, or on the verge of panic, give one of these exercises a try!

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)

This is called the channel-clearing (nadi= channel, shodhana= cleaning, purifying) breath. It’s said to balance the left and right sides of the brain, promote blood oxygenation, and calm the emotions.