Creating your sanctuary - breathe, relax and surrender.

When I stayed at Gaia Retreat & Spa in June 2021 (a reward to myself), I had the pleasure of spending time in this beautiful space, starting my day with yoga while soaking up the peaceful vibes and stunning views.

Yoga has been a constant companion in my life, in fact I studied yoga and taught for a while (now 18+ years ago). Whenever I practice, I find a feeling of deep groundedness, connection and flow.

At Gaia, the class began with laying down to consciously connect with our body and, our breath, using breathing techniques to activate the Vagus Nerve, which is often referred to as the healing nerve - it calms our system and switches on the relaxation response.

  • One way of doing this is by exhaling for longer than inhaling e.g. inhale on the count of 4, exhale on the count of 6 (find a rhythm that feels good to you)
  • Another way, as I learned, is to inhale normally and as you extend your exhalation, pause a couple of times, just for a brief moment, before continuing the round of exhalation.

When we focus on our breath and apply such techniques, we slow ourselves down including our heart rate and importantly, our mind, as it requires all our attention to concentrate and follow the chosen breathing pattern, thus any other thoughts, stress or worry take a back seat. Tapping into our breath is a wonderful way to bring ourselves back to the present and return to a state of calm and centredness, much needed in times like these! 

I loved how the teacher guided us as we laid there (in her amazing Scottish accent) : There is nothing to do, nowhere to be, simply stay with your breath, it’s free, so take it in and breathe deeply.

The beauty about our breath is that we have direct influence over it, we can choose to slow it down or speed it up - whereas we can’t do this for example with our digestive system. The breath reflects our state of mind and body, and we can consciously tap into it to connect, create awareness of where we are at, detect & release tension, calm ourselves or fire ourselves up i.e. get active and excited.

I’ve never looked at it this way and am grateful for the new perspectives gained. Indeed, the breath is free and powerful, it is always there for us, let’s embrace it and use it wisely.

For more information on the Vagus nerve and activation tips, refer to my article by clicking the link here: Switch on your Vagus Nerve.

Remember, it is all about balance. As always, listen to your body and observe whether this is beneficial for you - everyone has different needs and if in doubt, conduct further research or consult with your healthcare professional.

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