Where do you carry stress in your body? Do you constantly feel like you’re stuck in fight-or-flight mode, trapped within your sympathetic nervous system? Do your facial muscles, shoulders, and hips feel like they bear the brunt of your emotional baggage? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, know that you are not alone and that there are simple ways to alleviate some of the inevitable stress we feel.
Improving your breath and observing and acknowledging how it affects your emotions is vital for everyone, not just those affected by eating disorders. Doing so through breathing exercises and basic, meditative yoga postures can help to calm the body by accessing the parasympathetic, or relaxing, nervous system. Furthermore, breathing exercises leads to the ability to utilize more of our maximum lung capacity. Most of us spend our days using only 10-20% of our lungs and feeling stressed out while stuck in our parasympathetic, or fight-or-flight, nervous system.
Dr. Owen Peterson, Director of Training at Reasons EDC, kicks off this video explaining that we use mindfulness and breath in order to “allow our clients to better connect their affective states to their breathing patterns.” He goes on to say that these meditative methods used at Reasons EDC help clients achieve richer emotional experiences.
Associating meditation solely with stillness is one reason that some choose to forgo this relaxing practice. However, Jillian Szafranski, a yoga therapist at Reasons EDC, guides viewers through basic yoga postures and breathing exercises and explains that many of us need movement in our meditations. Contrary to the belief that we must be still, Jillian explains how gentle stretches and focused breathing can aid in the calming of our nervous system. The reason a lot of us cannot simply sit still is that most of us are pretty anxious so it’s hard for us to sit down and find seated meditation. For most of us, we need to stretch to get in tune with our parasympathetic nervous system.
When you tune in to your breathing, you can begin to observe your emotions from a different perspective. To better understand how you are feeling, you can check in with yourself by asking certain questions like “Where do I feel my breath?” “Where does it feel caught?” “Where do I feel grounded and supported?” If you notice that a part of your body feels like it needs more support, place your hand there.
These are just a few of the tips offered by Jillian throughout this video…Watch to learn more! Beginners and experienced meditators and yoga practitioners alike can benefit from the exercises. You don’t even need to get out of your chair to participate in these postures and breathing exercises. As she leads viewers through facial and breathing exercises, Jillian explains why each is beneficial to your body and to calming it down.
She also emphasizes that we need to do what is best for our own bodies, which may not necessarily be the same for everyone. Cater to your needs and listen to your body while engaging in these breathing exercises and yoga postures to get the most out of what this meditative method has to offer.