By Maria Antonietta Lamacchia, psychosomatics expert Naturopathy and relaxation techniques.
In our world we run too much, we act too fast and we end up suffocated by too much stress; we need to learn to breathe, to relax, to meditate. We need to go back to nature. Lungs, air and breathing are synonymous of life. We are born through an inhalation and we end our lives through an exhalation. Therefore our life is ruled by the respiratory function. While observing ourselves let's try to put to rest the so called 'stress hormones'. The word meditation sounds so difficult that it seems impossible to make it part of our daily life. Instead, it is much easier than what we think: try to feel your breath, feel the air coming into your nostrils, feel the abdomen going up and down while you breathe, concentrate your attention on your breath, becoming aware of every action involved in breathing. The air that comes in, the air that goes out. Conscious breathing (also known as rebirthing) can help our wellbeing and keep our health strong; it helps anxiety, headaches, panic attacks, etc.
By focusing on our breath we direct our attention to the inside and to the outside. Osho reminds us,
"Do not distract your mind and focus on breathing, everything else is a distraction. We must introduce a new quality into your life: consciousness. Do not make efforts; you will become conscious [...]"
Exercise 1: Vayu Pranayama
Yoga – through the Wind Technique called Vayu Pranayama – teaches us to manage situations of particular tension that we cannot chase away. It is useful against insomnia too. Vayu is the Wind, the Purifier that accompanies Yogis during their journey towards peace for body and mind. The control of vital energies through breathing is connected to the Lord of the Wind, Vayu.
It can be done either sitting cross-legged or lying down on the bed. Inhale slowly and deeply, without effort, through the nose, feeling the air entering fresh and subtle through the dilating nostrils. Exhale through the mouth with your lips slightly closed in the center and leaving a small round opening where the tongue will approach to make a hissing sound like that of the wind. The hissing accompanies the slow and gradual emptying of the lungs. Continue breathing like this for approximately 5 minutes, which should be enough time to get a pleasant and relaxing feeling, something like a torpor that calls for sleep. This is why it is useful in cases of insomnia. The breathing should always be effortless, it should flow naturally. It can be repeated several times and maybe even the next day if sleep does not occur after the first execution.
Exercise 2: Bramari Pranayama
The Bee's Breathing, Bramari Pranayama. It is more difficult than the previous one yet very effective because it leads naturally – with a prolonged practice – to a state of meditation. If practiced for a brief period it can help sleeping and to deeply relax mind and body.
Sit cross-legged with a straight back. Emit a sound by contracting the glottis imitating the noise of a large bee. It is important not to give up after the first failure: it is possible that one can make a buzz while exhaling, but it is more complicated to produce it while inhaling. Only when one is capable of emitting the same sound during both phases he will know that his Pranayama is correct.