Techniques to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

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VIDEO | 06:27

Yoga therapist, Tina Paul, demonstrates Dirga Pranayama, a three-part breath awareness exercise.

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Hi, my name is Tina Paul, and I'm a yoga therapist with MSK Integrative Medicine Services. Today we'll be practicing a three-part breath awareness, also known as the Dirga Pranayama. The practice can be done seated in a chair against the wall or on the floor. If you're seated in a chair, you'll come to an upright position at the edge of the seat, having your feet about [0:00:30] hip-width apart, and placing your hands in your lap either facing up if that feels energetically nice today, or you can play with the palms facing down for a sense of grounding. Bringing the eyes either to a gentle close or bringing the eyes to a downcast towards the floor, and allowing yourself to arrive. Collect your breath. Collect your awareness. Notice how your feet are making contact with the floor. Notice how your seat is making contact with the chair.

Soften the space between your eyebrows. Relax your jaw. And then you'll gently take your fingertips and place them at the level of your collarbones letting your elbows bend and flop out to the side. And just noticing the movement of breath here underneath your fingertips. As you take your next breath in through the nose feeling your top chest expand. And as you exhale, slowly emptying through the nose with the mouth gently sealed. Taking a few slow breaths like this at your own pace, feeling the top chest expand and then recoil back towards the body.

At the end of your next outbreath, you'll slowly slide your hands to the level of your ribs, letting your thumbs wrap around, letting your fingers face one another. And as you draw breath in here feeling your ribs expand out towards your hands or out towards the sidewalls and your space. And as you exhale feeling your ribs recoil back towards the body.

Taking another few slow breaths here at your own pace, feeling those ribs [0:03:00] re-expand and recoil. And at the end of your next outbreath, you'll slide your hands to the level of your belly button. Let your elbows bend and flop out to the side. And as you draw your next breath in feeling your belly expand out as you inhale. And as you exhale feeling your belly roll back towards your spine getting a little bit taller on the exhale.

At the end of your next outbreath, you'll place one hand at your heart space, one hand at your belly button. Let your elbows bend and flop out to the side. And as you draw your breath in here expanding out like a balloon, top chest, ribs, belly. And then as you exhale, feeling your balloon shape recoil back towards the body.

Taking a few slow breaths at your own personal rhythm here. And then slowly at the end of your next outbreath you'll place your hands in your lap bringing your eyes either close or downcast towards the floor letting your breathing technique release, or just letting your breath ebb and flow at its own pace.

If your mind begins to wander, just gently inviting it back to the sensations of your breath. At the end of your next outbreath slowly bringing some movement back to your fingers. Slowly bringing your hands to prayer in front of the heart space, and just gently rubbing your hands together. And separating your hands and bringing all of your awareness to your hands. Notice any tingling, any sensation, warmth, and bringing your hands to your heart space and thinking of one person that you'd like to dedicate this practice to, and bringing that person in your mind's eye, that person may be yourself.

Bring your hands gently back to prayer. And thank yourself for your practice and slowly making your way back into your room, into your space. This three-part breathing exercise is a practice that you can take with you anywhere you go. Whether you're at home, in the car, or waiting in the hospital for your child's test results.  The simple breathing technique can reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety by calming the nervous system and can lead to a sense of ease and balance. Thank you so much for joining me today.