Sometimes we just feel a bit stressed, off centre or nervous. These 3 steps help us find our centre & calm the nervous system. There are lots of other beautiful ways too of course. Go for a walk, do a quick yoga nidra or meditation, a few postures on your yoga mat. But that’s not always accessible. I like these techniques because you can use them anywhere, anytime, and I do. They remind me that everything is actually ok.
1. Soft abdominal breaths
Are you breathing into the chest or belly? If your feeling stressed chances are you’re breathing into your chest. Chest breathing is shallow. Drop it down- take a few fully conscious breaths into the belly.
*If you notice your belly hardens or feels forced when doing this breathing technique, instead of focusing so intensely on the abdomen drop your focus down into the legs. It can be helpful to imagine you are taking your breath all the way down to the soles of your feet. It’s very grounding & naturally drops the breath into a soft belly.
2. Find the gap between the breath
At the end of each inhalation & each exhalation take a moment or two to pause. This is a very soft, gentle pause. I once heard a teacher describe it as, ‘Holding the breath in or out of the body as you would hold a butterfly in your cupped hands’. No pressure, no straining- very soft, gentle & steady.
3. Quick body scan
Bring your awareness to these points & allow them to soften with each exhalation.
• Allow the teeth to slightly part & the muscles of the jaw to relax
• Soften the tissue around the eyes
• Relax your gaze & shift your focus to something a little further away
• Relax your shoulders down- allow the muscles down the sides of the neck, the base of the scull & across the front & back of the shoulders to ‘turn off’, relax down & soften.
A few side notes:
• The breath & nervous system are closely connected. When we get stressed & our sympathetic nervous system (think flight of fight) is stimulated, the breath naturally becomes shallow & in the upper chest. When we feel relaxed the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest/calming side) is stimulated, the breath is dropped into the belly. The nervous system greatly affects the breath but it also works in reverse- the breath affects the nervous system. So when we feel stressed the breath is a wonderful tool we can use to help calm our system.
• Don’t force the breath. It’s important to find the right length of breath for you, ‘easy breath’. Let it be relaxed. If we force the breath or the retentions to be to long we can actually feel more unsettled & stressed.
• Try the techniques for at least 40-60 seconds. Give the calming side of the nervous system a chance to start cleaning up the stress hormones stimulating the body. See if you can commit to fully focusing on the breath for this time. When the mind wanders just gently bring it back- focus on the pauses in the breath, the belly, relaxing & softening through the body scan. Give yourself this 60 seconds to regroup.
• The calming side of your nervous system is more active during exhalation so if you actively focus on relaxing during the exhalations it tips the nervous system further in that direction 🙌
Try it out & let me know what you think. Any questions let me know 🙏🌸