Tag Archives: stress relief

Catching your breath helps manage stress

While lamenting the distortions that my Kindle Fire HD has introduced in my reading habits, I did managed to finish a book this past week. In fact, I recommend that you buy a print copy because it comes with an audio CD that may be helpful in getting the knack for a breathing technique.

The Healing Power of the Breath: Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress and Anxiety, Enhance Concentration, and Balance Your Emotionsby Doctors Richard P. Brown and Patricia L. Gerbarg (Shambhala, 2012) is a useful primer on why you should develop a breathing practice even if you are not into yoga. It reviews the scientific research on the use of breath work in improving resilience to stress as well as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and trauma-induced emotions and behaviors. Brown and Gerbarg recommend a simple technique that slows your breathing to five breaths per minute, combined with simple visualizations of moving energy along the spine or from the head to the soles of the feet. They call it Coherent Breathing, and it can be modified to resemble the ujjayi (Darth Vader) Resistance Breathing that most yoga practitioners already know. I’ve used the technique to slow my mind down before going to bed or while seated on a train or waiting in line.

The key is to slow down the pace, and that can be harder than you’d expect. For instance, with my sudarshan kriya practice, the tendency is to speed up the pace and make it energizing. After working with the practice for a while, you’ll catch on to the pace and it will become second nature. The slower pace makes it easier to slip into a meditative mindset.

The CD contains a half dozen instructional takes on breathing techniques, and then it moves into a full 15-minute session, plus a short body scan.

More information is available on their website. There are also some audio files of radio interviews, podcasts and other material. Additional information can be found at Coherence, which goes into science behind the technique.

Stress relief at the University of Texas through yoga

The university environment can be one of the most stressful settings and the Art of Living Foundation has had a long-standing program for students.

Art of Living UT promotes yoga to relieve stress among students: “While the 2 a.m. Wendy’s run for french fries and a Frosty is a frequent and tempting stress-management method for many UT students during finals, there is a healthier way to cope with the strain the ensuing weeks will inevitably bring: yoga. Art of Living UT, an organization based on the global Art of Living Foundation, offers stress management workshops and conducts service initiatives around the world. Its mission is to help individuals get rid of stress and find inner peace. Art of Living UT promotes these same teachings at UT through free yoga and meditation classes for all students throughout the semester. The UT organization will hold its final yoga session of the semester Monday, giving students the perfect study break before finals officially begin.”

The trick is for each person to find the pose, sequences or practices that allow the release of tension. It can take more trial-and-error than just taking a pill.

Here’s another story about yoga classes at the Hillsborough Community College (Iowa) and why the school was promoting it.

Yoga starts making business sense — to some people

Bloomberg.com Princeton Grad Quits Morgan Stanley to Teach Yoga to Bankers  [story no longer onlline]:

Imparato, 28, is tapping into yoga’s growing appeal among the result-oriented financial brokers and dealers who want to de-stress and work out at the same time. Hedge funds, including Karsch Capital Management LP and Blue Ridge Capital LLC, offer onsite yoga classes to their employees. Pimco’s Bill Gross has said that he gets some of his best investment ideas while standing on his head.

Rivaling stories about athletes that practice yoga to improve their competitive edge, bankers-turned-yogis is a rising meme in the media coverage about yoga in the American mainstream, especially in the wake of the Wall Street crash last year. The irony of financiers meditating on the impermanence of reality is irresistible. Imparato has a nice website. Her studio is in her loft. I suspect that when she goes to the banks and hedge funds to give classes she charges more than $20 a session per student.