Yoga and Meditation Skeptic
When I was a junior at Penn State University, I tried Yoga for the first time. I very much disliked it. I didn’t necessarily hate it, I just didn’t get it. Belly breathing, and meditation in general, was so obscure to me. My 20 year old self-talk went something like this, “if I’m not sweating or burning calories, why would I waste my time in a Yoga class?”
Ten years later, I put a face palm emoji up when I think about my 20 year old mindset. But then I give myself grace because none of my peers, role models, or the images from the media gave me a reason to think otherwise. In fact, this is a normal thought given this unhealthy diet culture that we are currently influenced by.
Okay, I’m Convinced…
Thankfully, it only took me a year later to get trained to teach Yoga. Studying kinesiology, I saw the value in flexibility to reduce the risk of injury and breathing techniques to reduce stress. Today, I use Yoga as one of my primary methods for personal movement. And, it’s more than just movement. It’s part of my mental health care.
Being aware of my breath grounds me. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious, I know that I can always come back to deep belly breathing. (Sometimes I need a reminder from my partner, so know that I am in no way perfect!).
In celebration of National Relaxation Week (well technically it’s National Relaxation Day on August 15th, but who wants to be technical…), I’m sharing my favorite breathing technique: belly breathing. We used this in the Raleigh Group Fitness Summer Wellness Challenge guide and people loved how simple yet effective it was.
Belly breathing is an amazing tool to manage stress.
First, find a comfortable and quiet spot. Next, place your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest. Breathe into your left hand and fill up your belly. Try to calm your chest breathing as much as possible. Take 10-20 full breaths in and out while staying focused on your breath. You’re mind will wander, that’s completely normal. Try to be okay with that and not force your thoughts any which way. When you can, bring your mind back to your breath. A great distraction is repeating something over and over such as inhale “slow” exhale “down”. Or, you can count your inhales and exhales up to 10 and then back down to 1. I highly recommend trying out some different techniques to see what works best for you!
Try it and let me know what you think. Happy National Relaxation Week and stay well!
With good intentions,