What is the first thing we lose control of when we are enraged with anger or crying hysterically? Our breath.
Students are especially prone to anxiety attacks, panic attacks, or any other emotional attack you can think of. It comes with the territory of being under a lot of pressure in a highly competitive environment.
But when were we supposed to learn HOW to deal with the pressure? I certainly did not learn it in home, and definitely not in school.
Luckily I found my breath through my yoga practice and it did wonders to help me deal with my emotional BS without depending on the pharmaceutical companies to make me feel better. And I truly believe if everyone learned how to connect with their breath, the world would be so much happier!
Your breath is your BEST FRIEND. I say this in every yoga class. By controlling your breathing, you are taking control of your life. It’s a very simple act with tremendous power. You will never feel out of control when you learn to connect with your breath. And the beauty of this is that your breath is always there with you! As long as you are alive, you have your breath. You can lose everything you have—a loved one, job, reputation—but you will always have your breath.
Here are three simple pranayamas for the stressed out student to help you increase concentration and focus, manage anxiety, and take control of your emotional well-being:
1. Long deep breathing
HOW: Sit comfortably on a chair or on the floor in sukhasana (cross-legged) with your spine as straight as possible. Close your eyes and focus at the point between the brows. There are 3 parts to long deep breathing: (1) belly (2) chest (3) clavicle. Take a deep inhale through the nose and feel the belly expand away from the spine. As the breath moves up the chest, feel the chest expand with new oxygen. Then feel the breath move through the clavicle as it exits your nose. The exhale is the reverse: breath leaves the clavicle area, chest area, and finally the belly moves closer towards the spine as you exhale all the air out.
WHY: Releases anxiety and fears, calms your nervous system, stimulates production of endorphins
WHEN: Practice long deep breathing when you feel stressed, anxious, or out of control.
2. Right nostril breathing
HOW: Sit in sukhasana, spine straight, chest lifted and shoulders relaxed. Place your right hand on your knee in gyan mudra, thumb tip touches the index finger. Use your left thumb to close your left nostril with the rest of your fingers stretched towards the sky. Close your eyes and focus at the point between the brows. Begin breathing long, slow and deep through your right nostril.
WHY: This activates the pingala channel that ends in the right nostril which calls upon the sun energy. This will help you feel alert, active, and re-energized.
WHEN: Practice right nostril breathing when you feel too tired or unmotivated to study
3. Left nostril breathing
HOW: Sit in sukhasana, spine straight, chest lifted and shoulders relaxed. Place your left hand on your knee in gyan mudra, thumb tip touches the index finger. Use your right thumb to close your right nostril with the rest of your fingers stretched towards the sky. Close your eyes and focus at the point between the brows. Begin breathing long, slow and deep through your left nostril.
WHY: This activates the ida channel that ends in the left nostril which calls upon the moon energy. This will help you feel calm, cool, and relaxed.
WHEN: Practice left nostril breathing to instantly calm your nerves (like right before a test!)
(Photo Cred: David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)