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Stress Buster #1: Relaxed, Even Breathing

This morning I read the news. And I started feeling anxious. So I decided to breathe. Just Breathe.

Sama Vrtti Pranayama is essentially relaxed, even breathing. According to Light on Yoga, “Sama” means same or identical, straight, entire, whole and complete: also similarly or in the same manner. “Vrtti” means action, movement, function or operation, course of conduct or method.

Science has proven that breathing exercises can reduce stress, starting immediately. This from an article on NPR:

"Research has shown that breathing exercises like these can have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, or changing blood pressure.

But more importantly, they can be used as a method to train the body's reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones. Esther Sternberg is a physician, author of several books on stress and healing, and researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health. She says rapid breathing is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. It's part of the "fight or flight" response -- the part activated by stress.

In contrast, slow, deep breathing actually stimulates the opposing parasympathetic reaction -- the one that calms us down

"The relaxation response is controlled by another set of nerves -- the main nerve being the Vagus nerve. Think of a car throttling down the highway at 120 miles an hour. That's the stress response, and the Vagus nerve is the brake," says Sternberg. "When you are stressed, you have your foot on the gas, pedal to the floor. When you take slow, deep breaths, that is what is engaging the brake."

There are lots of different breathing techniques, but this is by far the simplest.

Take a comfortably full breath to feel your end range

Let it go

Inhale slow, relaxed and even

Exhale slow, relaxed and even

Practice a few rounds

Then let go of the technique, relax as much as possible, and simply be.

And take a break from the news and social media to give your nervous system some time to calm down.

This, too, might help us relax:

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