I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think as mothers we are often trying to find our perfect balance to keep us in good health. As a matter of fact, the ancient Indians who practiced the science of Ayurveda defined health as BALANCE!
But how do I bring a sense of balance to my life when I’ve got so much to do? So many obligations and not enough time in the day to get it all done.
The solution for me is a two minute breathing practice in moving prana.
What is prana?
In yogic terms, prana is a Sanskrit (the traditional language of yoga) word that means Life Energy. It is what all of Life is made of and what sustains all of life. Believe it or not we move prana every second of everyday, even when we are unaware of it.
How do we do this-you ask?
The easiest and most accessible way for all of us to engage with and control our own prana is to consciously control our own breath.
The breath is an AMAZING thing. Not only does it keep us alive, even when we are not paying attention to it, but it is the only involuntary bodily function that we can control deliberately.
It is also the simplest means to bring our bodies and minds back into that much coveted balance.
How does breathing well bring us health?
When we inhale, the involuntary part of our nervous system (the autonomic nervous system) gets stimulated. Our heart rate increase our blood vessels dilate. Essentially our inhale gets us ready for action! This is why when we get startled and want to run away from danger our automatic reaction is to take a quick deep gasp of air IN!
On the other hand, when we exhale, our autonomic nervous system calms down. Our heart rate and blood pressure decrease and we get prepared for rest. That’s why when you first submerge yourself in a nice hot bath your involuntary reaction is to let OUT a long “aaaahhhh.”
During the course of every day life our inhales are roughly the same length as our exhales.
By knowing how the nervous system works, we can consciously move our prana (our breath) in the direction we need it in at any moment.
When we are nervous about making a presentation at work for example, we can take 2 minutes to focus on increasing our exhale.
Simply inhale through the nose to a slow count of 4 and exhale through the mouth to a slow count of 6 or 8. In this way you are changing the physical dynamics of your nervous system. For even better results, think an affirmation at the same time like “I can do this” and your mind will also calm down.
On the other hand when it’s three in the afternoon and you have to get yourself going for round two of mommy duty when the kids get off the bus, you can focus on increasing your inhale.
Amy Weintraub, founder of LifeForce Yoga and author of Yoga for Depression (affiliate link), suggests a stair step breath where you take 4 short inhales through the nose until you have “filled up”, hold for 1 count and then exhale through the nose smoothly until you are empty. Dong this will physiologically stimulate your body. Again adding an affirmation while you do this like “I have all the energy I need” will increase your results.
These simple two minute practices will go a long way to helping your take control of your Life energy and bring balance back into your busy day!