Or a literal title might be named, “How to calm down in any anxiety-giving situation, or situation you perceive to be negative.” Not as effective.
When the ship is going down, in the moment of anxiety-driven situations and high emotions (anger, frustration, jealousy, stress, or mind-blowing-madness), to say something like, “let’s block this negativity together,” might not have the same effect as the captain yelling to the group to regain control, “Just calm the F down! Everything’s going to be okay!”
Think about it – the adrenaline pumping through your body is like the crazed ship group running into each other to get to the life boats, and your mind is the captain trying to get their attention.
So, how do you calm the F down? Luckily, it’s easy to do – it’s called breathing. Or, if you want to get fancy, prana, which means life force, energy, vital breath.
Yoga starts and ends with breath. As do we. So it makes sense that we have control in any situation, negative or positive, to direct our emotions with our breath. It might not feel like it at the time, but after some practice, it will get easier and more useful to you to use anywhere.
When you panic, or get upset, the breath tends to get short and fast. This leads to less oxygen to the brain and the body, and induces a panic sensation in the body. Think about when someone is hyperventilating – to get them to calm down you may have seen them breathe into a bag. Part of the reason that helps is due to the focus on breath, to make it longer and fuller, rather than short and fast.The same goes for you when you’re angry or upset – your breath is short and fast, and it’s located in your chest. In order to make the breath fuller and longer, the breath must move from the chest into the belly.
The Breathing Trick (or Pranayama Exercise)
Place your hands on your belly and focus on expanding and collapsing the belly. Feel your hands push out and fall in as you exhale. This is where you want your breath to be in order to begin to relax the mind and body.
Now concentrate on making your breath longer, from four seconds all the way up to six seconds for each inhale and exhale. Try doing three rounds of these full inhale/exhale sets, and see how you feel after. Try two more rounds.
That’s it, that’s your tool. I promise, it will work wonders. Keep it in your back pocket for the next time your start to get upset from a nasty email, a bad phone call, a moment at work or at home. Take a moment to place a hand on your belly (or just focus your attention there), and push your breath from your chest to your belly, and do three sets (or five sets if you overachieve!) of inhales/exhales (at least 5 seconds each). I promise you will feel better than you did before, and from taking your focus off the stupid problem, and onto your breath, where your attention belongs.
Try it before bed, or on the way home from school/work/errands, after time with a person that’s not your favorite, or any time. It’s a powerful tool to connect to your most vibrant energy source, and a tool to reclaim your connection to controlling your emotions.
I’ve been in yoga pants a lot (thankfully – those things are so comfy), as a yoga teacher for the past four years, and a yoga student for the past seven years. Yoga is everything to me, the reason I got through a ton of other sticky situations in my life, and you can usually find me at parties or gatherings talking about breath.
I use it all the time, and when I teach it to others, their eyes get wide and they say, “It really works! It’s so simple, but I can really feel it!”
Now, try it for real. It takes less than a minute. Your body will thank you, and you might even feel a boost in energy. Doesn’t it feel good to calm the F down?
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” -Amit Ray
I’d love to know what simple trick you have to calm down in upsetting situations. There are so many out there!
Love and light,