Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Yogic Breath Practice for Wo(Men)

Taken during a breathing exercise, kaki mudra,
at one of the Professional Yoga Therapy
training intensives I instructed in 2008.
Women need, let's face it, more than 24 hours in a day to accomplish all that is expected of us.  We manage the majority of households in the US, perform the overwhelming majority of all house related tasks and work, and oh yes, hold down full time jobs in and/or outside the home.

Since WWII, when women left the home for the workforce, we have had to shoulder more than 2 full time jobs.  And if you are a mother, then add a third full time job.

Gender equality is still a far off notion, although the pay gap is decreasing (only if you are childless) and men are increasingly taking on roles as involved fathers and partners who share in household management, chores, and childrearing.  The portrait of a father differs largely from the snapshot of one from the 1960's, for example.  Today's father is more hands-on than ever, many opting to be stay-at-home dads while moms go to work - and with the advent of telecommuting, more men and women are finding new (and long overdue) flexibility in the workplace.

Today's post can help you maintain sanity in your busy life and come closer to attaining that enigma of work/life balance - through learning to breathe better. A complete breathing practice - beneficial for men and women alike - is available for free.  For your education and information, you can download these free excerpts from my texts on medical therapeutic yoga, previously available only to health care professionals who studied with me at Professional Yoga Therapy.

Guidelines for Practice
Each of these breath practices serve a specific purpose.  For that reason, they cannot be practiced all at the same time.  Instead, choose which ones best suit you and follow these 3 guidelines:
  • Always begin with the abdominal breath. When in doubt, return to the abdominal breath for calm relaxation.
  • Always use the TATD breath for performing active tasks, such as yoga postures, exercise, lifting, or playing sports. The TATD creates a powerhouse of trunk/ab strength and spine control - whether you are a runner, golfer, kayaker, or a mom who lifts and chases toddlers all day long.
  • Always finish with at least 5 minutes of relaxation pose.  This can be done lying down or reclining - generally relaxing - anywhere.  (except while driving in your car). Take the 5 minutes to decompress and clear you mind.

Breath Techniques
The gold standard breath in medicine for what is known as relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing.  This breath is a daily staple for thriving. It should be mastered before attempting any other breath type. A word of caution though: this breath is not to be used for a yoga practice because it does not support the spine and puts you at risk for injury. The TATD breath should be used for all vigorous exercise, yoga postures included. Download Abdominal Breath
This breath can be practiced once you have mastered the abdominal breath.  It increases alveolar ventilation (breathing) and O2 exchange.  It can dramatically raise energy levels, so much that you have to take care not to become dizzy (hyperventilate) while practicing this breath.  Take special care not to chest breathe, but only use the abdominal or TATD breath to complete this more difficult breath technique. Download the Three (or Four) Part Breath
A breath technique which prevents and treats hyperventilation and states of anxiety or panic.  It brings calm and deepens the breath, thereby increasing O2 exchange which ultimately brings better nutrition and vitality to the tissues of the body and mind. It can be practiced any time. Download Sandbag Breath
The TATD breath is a technique I developed for active yoga posture practice and exercise. It creates ideal spinal stability and stiffness, a quality needed to create a strong, injury/pain free spine.  It should be used during any exercise or activity that makes demands on the spine. Download TATD Breath
A breath technique which brings focused energy to your system by stimulating the left hemisphere of the brain.  Only use this breath when you want to increase concentration, energy, or prepare yourself for a big event or day. Download Sun Breath
A breath technique which brings calm energy to your system by stimulating the right hemisphere of the brain. Only use this breath when you are trying to decrease nervous system activity when you are trying to rest or decrease feelings of anxiety or worry. Download Moon Breath

Happy breathing in this life!

  1. Crittenden, Ann. The Price of Motherhood. 2002.
  2. Garner, Ginger. Professional Yoga Therapy, Volume I, II, III, and IV. 2008-2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment