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Since beginning a regular practice of belly breathing, I feel less anxious and much calmer. In a stressful situation, when I start to feel the gripping feelings of anxiety, I find that stopping and taking a few minutes for belly breathing allows me to temporarily remove myself from a troubling situation and clear my mind as I focus on the inhale and exhale, the rise and fall of the abdomen. It alleviates many of the feelings of fear and relaxes my mind so that I can view the situation from a better perspective and allow myself to make more balanced decisions from a calmer and more even place.
Belly breathing has allowed me to feel more relaxed and less physically tense throughout the day. My muscles have generally not ached or felt heavy as often. I have experienced less nervous stomach aches and feel as though I have more energy, which could be due to the better blood flow and increased oxygen that diaphragmatic breathing exercises are known to produce. The energized feelings could also be attributed to feeling generally calmer as anxiety and stress seem to use much more energy than calm and tranquility. I have noticed that my breathing patterns during my Asana and Sadhana practices have improved and I am able to concentrate on my breath more easily than before. As an added benefit, I believe my abdominal muscles feel stronger.
This experiment has shown me that, belly breathing is always available when needed and it provides immediate and long-term positive outcomes with ongoing benefits to my health and wellbeing, as opposed to the negativity and unhealthiness that distress and anxiety can bring. At times when I feel worried and unsettled, I am learning that if I can stop and even take one or two deep breaths, I can readjust my thinking and be in a much better place. This experiment has made me reflect on a quote from the Dutch writer Corrie ten Boom, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”
Adding regular belly breathing and alternate nostril breathing practices to my morning routine has proved a wonderfully calming start to my day. As the day wears on, belly breathing helps me to feel much more relaxed and better able to cope with the odd stressful situations that seem to develop throughout the day. By adding belly breathing and alternate nostril breathing to my nighttime routine, I have less trouble falling asleep and my sleep has been much better with fewer interruptions. Overall, I feel calmer and experience longer periods of peacefulness and serenity than prior to the start of the Ayurveda experiment.