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Stressed? Try These 3 Breathing Exercises

Katy Willis found yoga and breathing exercises to be healing from trauma. Listen as she teaches 3 breathing techniques to relieve stress.

If you prefer to watch a video of this episode, you can access that here: https://youtu.be/Y4R8OMqgakU

Stressed? Try These 3 Breathing Exercises

Our Guest for our Breathing Episode Today

On today’s Tamara’s Takeaways I’m doing things a little different. Today I have an extra special treat for you. Since my last takeaways episode was all about stress, I’ve been researching some more amazing stress relieving techniques because I feel I need it. (And I know everybody else probably does, too.)

And so because last week’s episode was my interview with Katy Willis, I thought it would be so fun to bring her back on today because she has some specialties that she’s willing to share with us. The cool thing about Katy is she has such a huge and broad background not only as a nurse, but she’s also a certified Kundalini yoga instructor, a certified practitioner in quantum neuro reset therapy, and she is also a Christian. So, what is so interesting about this is she can kind of give us a Christian’s take on breathing and yoga.

In Katy’s interview last week she talked about how yoga became a way for her to help the begin the healing process from the stressors caused by the addiction, and the betrayal trauma from her husband’s addiction to pornography.

Yoga

When I asked Katy how she was introduced to yoga to begin with, she explained she had several people recommend it to her when she was at that low point in her life, so finally she ordered some DVDs on Amazon, and did yoga for the first time.

And at that point, Katy’s husband Mark was working three full time and part time jobs, so she’d have a couple hours every night between putting the kids to bed, and before he came home. Katy then designated this as her self-care time and began doing yoga.

The first time she tried yoga she was unsure what she was doing, but immediately recognized how amazing she felt physically and mentally, emotionally. She just felt so clear. And so the next night Katy popped another DVD in and every day since then. It has been eight years she has kept up a daily yoga practice.

Benefits of Yoga

Now the research has been catching up as to the benefits of yoga, which is important to her medical training as a nurse. Due to how yoga has helped Katy process her own trauma, she realized quickly that she had to teach others how to breathe and do yoga to heal as well. For this reason she explains, “I’ve spent the past few years literally traveling all over the country, hoping to get in the best of everything. …Yoga is helping me also spiritually to be more intentional about abiding in Jesus Christ from moment to moment and seeing God in my life. I’m more aware spiritually.

The Difference Between Pressure and Stress

Katy feels like stress gets a bad rap, especially in western culture where we are going to die of stress. But she defines “the difference between pressure and stress is, is me where I’m at in that moment. If I have enough of a reserve, and or I’m able to adapt and adjust and shift into low low gear, I am able to rise to meet that pressure and it stays pressure. But when I am too depleted, I’m having a hard time adapting to what’s happening” that is when pressure becomes stress.

Katy explains that’s important to differentiate, because “pressure is not ‘bad.’ It’s a huge part of living on this planet. Pressure is what allows us to grow and become stronger physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Another way to think about pressure and stress is comparing it to a checking account. We have to have more in our checking balance than we’re withdrawing or else we’re going to get in trouble. The same is true with our physical, spiritual and emotional health.

Two Key Components to Deep Breathing

1. Lifestyle

Yoga has been a key component in helping Katy maintain her well-being balance in her checking account. Every morning she rolls out her yoga mat, does yoga, reads her scriptures, meditates, prays, journals and adds this peace and well-being to her “checking account.” This allows her to be present and meet the challenges she faces daily.

“And even though I roll up my yoga mat, even though I shut my scriptures, I get up off my knees, because I’ve taken that time to put on my spiritual armor, and to tune my frequency to God. I am able to then turn for the rest of my day, and abide in Jesus Christ from moment to moment and see God in my life. Even when I homeschool my four kids, make peanut butter sandwiches and laundry–all of these moments are different because of that time that I’m taking for me. I’m spending time in yoga, meditation, time with God because that’s dialing me into a different awareness of my body, of my mind, of things of the Spirit, than if I’m not incorporating it in a lifestyle way.”

2. Breathing Intentionally

One of Katy’s trainers, Siri Marka, said, “The mind only surrenders to the breath.” So when we change the way that we are breathing, or even just tune in and notice our breath, that can slice right through all of the mind games are the things that keep us stuck in our head.

The breath has the power to shift our mood. Even in a few intentional breaths, or certainly within three minutes of breathing in specific ways, can create different shifts. Some breathing techniques are more energizing, while some are more calming and soothing.

3 Great Breathing Techniques

1. Long, Deep Breathing

So, the first one that we want to focus on is long, deep breathing. Katy explains that some people actually breathe backwards–where their stomach goes in when they breathe in instead of going out. So, “learning to breathe correctly and deeply is such a huge game changer to us.” There is so much oxygen that’s available. And we have such a huge lung capacity. But because of life experiences/trauma we have been through, we tend towards anxiety. Again, there is such a huge connection between our mental/ emotional health, our mood, and our breath. So this is a huge game changer.

There are three parts to breathing deeply:

  • Filling your lungs down deep to your diaphragm
  • Filling and expanding your middle ribcage out
  • Topping off with air all the way to the top of your collarbones.

Practicing Deep Breathing

It is best to begin practicing deep breathing lying down on your back (if you are pregnant, you may lay on your left side), but it is possible to practice deep breathing sitting up straight. Just breathe in through your nose, filling your lungs completely, and then exhaling slowly through your nose again.

Take a few deep breaths: Inhaling, breathing down into that belly area, expanding now out sideways and now topping off in the upper chest. And as we exhale, exhale first from the upper lungs, then the middle rib cage area. And then finally scooping our belly up and in towards our spine.

Close your eyes (if you are comfortable doing so) and practice a minute or two of this deep breathing.

My Experience with Deep Breathing

As I practiced my deep breathing earlier. (I took Katy’s free 2 hour breathing course online) And I had a really cool experience: I carry a lot of my stress and anxiety in my middle chest area–right where my diaphragm is. And I noticed when I started Katy’s breathing class, that my big ball of stress in the middle of my chest released. It was absolutely amazing to experience firsthand the power of deep breathing.

Like Katy says, breathing is, “so simple. It is the least expensive tool, the most simple tool, anybody is probably going to hand you for stress relief. Yet it’s one of the most potent and powerful.” And you can do it anywhere.

2. Nostril Breathing

To introduce the next breathing example, Katy teaches us that, “One of our nostrils is heating and the other night nostril is cooling. It’s not only physically heating and physically cooling, but it’s also mentally emotionally cooling or heating.

So if we take our right thumb, plug our right nostril, now we’re only breathing in and out of our left nostril. Breathing in and out of your left nostril is cooling, calming and soothing. When you breathe in and out of your right nostril it helps with procrastination, energy, or to warm you in the winter.

Katy likes to anchor her pointer and middle finger on that on that brow point, and plug each nostril rotating with the thumb and ring finger. Another option would be to just extend your four fingers straight up like an antenna, plugging one nostril with the thumb. Then you follow the same pattern for long, deep breathing and inhaling through your nose filling that abdomen, ribs, and upper lung areas. Then exhaling upper, ribs, and then scooping the abdomen up and in.

3. Victory Breathing

Victory breath can be a really great for people who experience anxiety because it gives our mind multiple things that we have to focus on at once. It is a version of what we call segmented breath, or stroke breath. Segmented breathing means we’re breaking the breath up into certain ratios. For Victory breathing we will be dividing each inhale into thirds. So we’ll sip in a third of the breath three times. And we also divide the exhale into thirds.

So the breath sounds like this: three little sniffs in, three little sniffs out. You build these sniffs into the long deep breathing. We can breathe into my abdomen on the first sniff; breathe into the middle ribs on the second; and breathe into upper for the third. It would be reversed for the exhale.

One the other element. This is called victory breath because we are thinking the word Vic-to-ry as we sip the inhale and Vic-to-ry as we blow out.

With any of the three breathing techniques Katy taught today, she suggests starting with doing it for three minutes. It is “life changing to learn to breathe properly,” Katy concludes.

Websites/Resources

  • Katy’s free two hour “Breath, Prana, & Grace” class: https://be-still.teachable.com/p/ucap-bonus
  • Katy also has a $49 course called,”Notice.” This course includes 5 gentle Hatha yoga movement classes that are beginner friendly and trauma-sensitive. Each class is about 60 minutes long. The focus is on building awareness of our body and making lifestyle changes. The “Notice” course also addresses 5 common challenges in the aftermath of trauma.
  • Katy is currently offering a bundle of 3 complimenting yoga therapy courses through her online school. These will bring awareness to the body, mind, and soul. Each class is a combination of yoga movement, meditation, interactive lectures, and companion workbooks. Right now the presell price is 50% off because Katy is part way through the creation. She anticipates 20 to 50 hours available. The presell gives instant access to what is available right now, and immediate access as she uploads more finished content. This gives lifetime access to all content, and actually includes the “Notice” course as a free bonus. The sale will continue through November 30, 2020, which is the anticipated date for full completion of all 3 courses.
  • Kundalini yoga is called the yoga of “the householders.” A person could learn how to do Kundalini yoga on their own with minimal instructions and do it properly. Whereas other forms of yoga require involved training with a teacher’s supervision in order to practice it properly. You can find instructions to some pretty awesome Kundalini yoga movement sets (called “kriyas”) here: https://www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga/kriya
  • There are also many breathing apps out there you can use to help you learn to breathe and relieve stress.

About the author, Tamara

Tamara K. Anderson is a speaker, author, podcaster, and is a professional in HOPE. She has four children who struggle with autism, ADHD, anxiety, visions issues, and all bring her great joy.

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