Breathing Peace and Calm into the Holidays

Breathing supplies oxygen to help our brain function optimally, and could provide the secret to a more peaceful holiday season. While there are many ways to breathe, some are better for calming the mind and enhancing focus than others. Slow, even, deep abdominal breaths increase emotional stability and selfconfidence, while reducing anxiety.

Yoga teachers say the breath is the key to quieting and calming a busy mind, believing that life is measured by the number of breaths we take. One can choose to breathe fast, live fast and die young, or breathe slow and live longer. Although we tend to think of breathing as an involuntary function of the brain, this is not entirely true, becuse controlling the breath can affect our mind and emotions. When we breathe slowly and deeply, our mind becomes calm and peaceful. We can use it to create a qyuiet mind anytime. Here are some tips for learning to slow the breath to calm the mind with diaphragmatic breathing.

Come to a comfortable seated position, with the knees slightly higher than the hips. Place one hand on the belly and one on the chest. Focus on the breath, inhale, opening the belly first, expanding the ribs anf then lifting the chest. Upon exhaling, draw the belly in and up, pull the ribcage in and keep the chest lifted. Take several breaths this way until it starts to feel natural. If it is more comfortable, move the hands back to rest on the knees, with the elbows heavy.

Concentrate on the breath. If the mind wanders, guide it gently back. Don’t struggle. If the mind is not ready, come back to the practice later. End the practice with three releasing breaths. Breathe in through the nose and out of the mouth, with a sigh to let go of any tensions.

Practice this breathing exercise to bring peace to the mind anywhere. To curb road rage, try using it in traffic over this holiday season. It’s common for the mind to keep quite busy if left on its own. It is said to be harder to harness the mind, than the wind. Through breath control, we try to do just that.

Yoga is not only an excellent physical activity, but one with primary purpose to serve as a tool to quiet the mind. Slow deep breathing will help bring peace and calmness into your holidays.

Toni Farris is co-owner of Yoga Tree Plano, in Plano. For more info and to receive your first yoga class free, call 972-398-9642 or visit YogaTreePlano.com.

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