Yoga & Stress Reduction
Basic Breath Observation and Equal Inhalation/Exhalation
The breath is both an automatic and a consciously controlled process, and is considered
the gateway between the conscious and unconscious mind, as well as a spiritual activity
and a spiritual vehicle.
The poet Rumi wrote that “there is a way of breathing that is like an infinite love
breath and a way of breathing that is a shame and suffocation.”
Tension and stress shorten the breath. Emotion tends to make it irregular. While
there is no one “right” way to breathe, there are benefits to two simple breathing
practices that anyone can do at any time they are at rest. The first is simply watching
the breath come and go, without making any effort to change it.
As you sit quietly, watching the waves of the breath, the breath will automatically
slow and soften, signaling the onset of relaxation. If thoughts come (and they will!),
don’t give them your attention. Just keep watching, as though you were sitting at
the beach watching the waves from a comfy chair. This simple observation needs to
go on for 15 to 20 minutes!
It is a process that silently improves our wellbeing. Occasionally, people who undertake
this process become more anxious. If this happens, it is important not to go on.
Stop, then try again at another time, or consult a teacher who is experienced in
Once you are comfortable watching your breath, you can count seconds as you breathe
in and out. Begin with letting the in- and out-breath be equal in length. This helps
regularize the heart beat and is soothing to the entire nervous system.
- The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga - Bernie Clark
- Relax and Renew - Judith Lasater, Ph.D, PT
- Mindful Yoga - Charlotte Bell
- Just One Thing - Rick Hanson, Ph.D
- Buddha’s Brain, Rick Hanson, Ph.D
- Full Catastrophe Living- Jon Kabat Zinn
- Four Elements - Reflections on Nature - John O’ Donohue
- Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan
- Relaxation Response, Herbert Benson, MD
- Relaxation Revolution, Herbert Benson, MD