1. Controlled Breathing
A proper breath fills up the first two parts of your stomach first, and the second two parts of your chest next before exhaling from the body; similar to filling a glass with water. Your gut is located in the stomach area, but you would be surprised how many people don’t take the time to fully fill that space with air. This habit can cause anxiety disorders due to irregular breathing, even holding the breath at times, inhibiting a lack of oxygen through your blood and to the brain; causing a panic.
Yoga begins with the breath. Teaching your body how to breath allows you to create your own calm and direct the focus from the heavy traffic of thoughts or panic back to the body. When you think about it, we were born knowing how to breath correctly for our bodies. It’s surprising how we forget something that should be second nature to us when dealing with the daily stresses and tasks of life. Essentially, retrieving the correct breathing techniques can stabilize the gut and calm the minds’ reactions.
Create a New Rhythm
We are always manipulating our nervous system with coffee, chocolate and other various forms of caffeine to stimulate our bodies. However, long term our parasympathetic nervous system, designed for short term activities, gets burned out and requires additional false energy to maintain itself.
Have you ever had one too many cups of coffee in the morning? You get the jitters, almost a nervous energy that can upset your stomach and even start to cause a panic in your mind. With all that energy, you are able to multi-task effectively until 3:00 PM comes around and you burn out again. This routine is terrible for your gut!
Turns out, multi-tasking isn’t a practice that should be regular. Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, PT advised during an annual event in Washington, D.C., Yoga as Lifestyle Medicine, that people should try to start focusing on one thing at a time. “We are creating our own nervous rhythms,” she said, as she introduced restorative yoga as a therapeutic healthcare solution. Try to slow it down a bit throughout your day and take the attention off the list of things to get done, and work on one thing at a time.
Meditation is about not trying to change anything, only becoming aware. Apply this statement to yourself. Notice how you’re feeling, where your body has a few aches and pains, or maybe even how your breathing is a little coarse and shallow today. Your body is telling you what it needs throughout each day, unfortunately, we tend to ignore it and keep our attention directed at what the mind is doing. Yoga helps redirect the attention on the body, giving your mind some space to rest while nurturing the other parts in need.
Redirecting the Mind
Once you become aware that your body needs some attention, you need to learn the art of switching the focus off the mind. The practice of yoga is within the present moment; nothing else matters but the movements of your body. No heavy traffic of thoughts or anxiety can take place when your focus is shifted to how each breath fills up your lungs, and how your body feels as you exhale the deep breath out. Your gut is stretched out by the breath and your body movements, creating that sense of calm during and after each practice. Your gut or nervous system relies on your nourishment to function in this state consistently. That’s why it’s important to take the time to redirect your mind.
A regular practice of yoga can help keep your state of calm not only within the exercise, but throughout each day as well. Having the ability to redirect the mind to the body when needed helps the nervous system filter out any bad or nervous energy building up. Take note, this energy can be built up faster by excessive amounts of stress and caffeine. Managing yourself requires taking the time to stop multi-tasking, to take that 10 minute break, to learn to listen to your body when it needs you. Listen to your gut!
Give nourishment to your nervous system through the practice of yoga. Listen to your body when it tells you it hurts or needs a break. Don’t go for that second cup of coffee when you’re tired, instead allow your mind to focus on one thing at a time so it’s not too overwhelmed and enters the state of exhaustion. We control our nervous rhythms!