Friday, January 16, 2015

How To Up Your Game

Upping our game means feeling and acting better in both body and mind.  In Ayurveda food, rest and breath are the ways we nourish our bodies.  Breath is held as the best way to feed every cell of our body with life-force or prana. This life-force connects our spirit to our bodies or in other words consciousness to matter.

Ayurveda recommends breathing exercises to develop greater awareness and control of the breath, and these are called pranayama.  A regular breathing practice will create clarity of mind, energize the body and balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain (allowing for better coordination of logic and creativity).  While the benefit of pranayama can be felt almost immediately, regularity is important to get the most out of it.  Even just two to five minutes a day will make your life better.

Here is a simple exercise that anyone can master, it is known as diaphragmatic breathing.  The diaphragm is a muscle located at the base of the rib cage that moves with each inhalation and exhalation.  A baby takes full, deep breaths allowing rich oxygen to inhale and carbon dioxide to be exhaled with the diaphragm performing perfectly.  As we age, we tend to limit the full use of the diaphragm, taking shallow breaths because of stress and busyness.  This exercise will allow you to strengthen the diaphragm, give energy and make you more aware of how you are breathing.

  1. Sit on the front edge of a chair, letting your feet lay flat on the floor.  Your spine should be straight yet relaxed so your chest, neck and shoulders feel comfortable.
  2. Place one hand on your abdomen, as you inhale deeply and slowly through your nose and feel your stomach and rib cage expand. 
  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your stomach and rib cage pull gently inward.
  4. Repeat for a round of ten breaths, and try to build your practice up to five minutes a day. 
Variation: To really calm and soothe stress, also place your other hand on your chest/heart area when doing the exercise.

This simple pranayama practice will improve your health in many ways.  It will also make you sharper and more focused in your relationships and career.  Get your game on.

Stay healthy & well,

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