by Tricia Hurley, M. Ed., Co-Founder and Reiki Master Teacher at Cup of Life Healing Center

No matter who you are or where you are in life, everyone experiences a natural cycle of ups and downs. We have found that having a set of “go-to” tools helps us navigate day-to-day life and makes an incredible difference in helping us maintain or return to a place of homeostasis, a place of centered balance. Regular acupuncture and/or Reiki are certainly effective tools in supporting this balance, as well as overall health and well-being. Outside of these treatments, there is much each one of us can do on a daily basis to promote and support a greater sense of balance in our daily lives.

One of our most relied upon tools in our personal practice is to work with the breath. Many people think of the breath as an “involuntary by-product” of being alive; you don’t really think about breathing, it just sort of happens. However, one incredibly powerful way to invite a sense of balance into your life is to consciously work with the breath, as there is an innate body, mind, spirit connection, especially when we practice conscious breathing.

Have you ever noticed a tendency to hold your breath during times of worry or stress?

When you finally let go of something that is difficult, do you find you can “breathe easier”? Consider these parallels between breath and thoughts:

  • We cannot see either, but we know them by their effect on our feelings of well-being.
  • Rapid, uncontrolled breathing and thoughts both usually reflect physical or mental stress.
  • Slow, deliberate breathing reflects a state of calm, concentration, or steady thought.

Yogis have known this connection for thousands of years and we can use this ancient wisdom to help us navigate our modern world. One of the most well-known yogic breaths is the Ujjayi breath (pronounced oo-jai) and is commonly translated as “victorious breath.” The ujjayi breath is both calming and energizing and can bring a profound sense of peace. Its practice invites a full awareness and control of the breath.

The Ujjayi breath

To practice the ujjayi breath, a light constriction is made at the back of the throat, which controls and slows inhalation and exhalation. This creates an “ocean-like” quality to the sound of the breath that is soothing, peaceful and rhythmic. Ujjayi breath is most commonly practiced with equal length inhalations and exhalations.

Try this:

  1. Once an hour, pause what you are doing.
  2. Set a timer for 1 minute.
  3. Close your eyes and practice the ujjayi breath.
  4. Breath in peace; Breath out worries, tensions, etc.
  5. When the timer beeps, gently open your eyes and return to your day.

The beauty of this practice: You’ll still have the other 59 minutes in your hour to get the other so called “important” things in life done. Perhaps, with addition of this practice you’ll accomplish them with a just a little more ease and grace throughout the day!