What is the voice exactly? It’s also known as the ego. The ego-mind is the collection of events that have occurred in your life. That means that when an event comes up that is similar to when you were five years old for example; you’re going to probably go to act like you’re five. The ego or the voice doesn’t live in the present; it looks to the past or worries about the future.
It’s worrying about the future that causes so much stress. If you pay attention to your inner voice, you’ll be shocked at what it tells you. If this voice was a friend or a partner, it would be considered abusive and just plain mean. Your inner voice cuts you down in a variety of ways and eventually causes you to doubt everything. It is always talking and most people aren’t even aware that this chatter is going on. This is why mindfulness has gained such a powerful momentum in the western world. When we can stop the mind from controlling how we perceive the world, there is less stress. This has been proven by countless studies.
Challenges of Mindfulness and Meditation
Calming the mind should be one of the easiest things we can learn but it isn’t. The mind doesn’t want to give up the control so when you try to quiet it, it just screams louder. You’ll hear a lot of people say they can’t meditate. They say it’s too hard or don’t know how to do it right. It’s really simple but you need to prep yourself so your body and mind are centered and calm. This is the connection between yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation. Yoga poses and the breathing that goes along with it help to calm the mind and ready you for meditation. Mindfulness is what you’ll end up with when you practice meditation regularly.
Yoga Poses and Stress
There are many reasons that yoga reduces stress. It calms the nervous system down and reduces cortisol levels. When the voice in your mind does cause stress, you can avoid the potential health risks that come from so much anxiety. Yoga poses to get the body moving so it can help you to drop the voice that is causing you stress.
Going into forwarding bends or child’s pose sends a message to the brain that you are safe. There are indirect and direct benefits of yoga that reduce stress. Postures like Reclining Twist Pose relieve tension and emotion that you hold in your back. The body holds onto emotions in certain areas. Often in the shoulders, the back or the hips.
Hips will often carry tension in them so poses like Pigeon will release all that tension. To relax the body from any tension that exists in it, Legs on the Wall Pose or Corpse Pose is recommended. These poses should be done for at least 10 minutes. You can take in deep belly breaths to help you relax even further. When you are relaxed, you become more aware. If the voice starts to cause tension in the body, you will be more inclined to look at the cause of why you’re all of a sudden feeling stressed. Yoga prepares you for being more mindful. You can stop the voice in your head from ruling your life and causing negative thoughts, which lead to stress.
More on Stress:
When you do yoga daily, you’re going to find that it’s much easier to relax into stressful situations. You’re also much less likely to ruminate. The mind can’t be a runaway train if you’re using breathing techniques to calm yourself. In fact, a guided meditation is often going to tell you to listen to your breath. We get easily distracted when we meditate but paying attention to your breathing is one of the ‘tricks’ to quieting the mind.
Breathing techniques like deep belly breathing are extremely relaxing. When you are relaxed, you are less likely to fall into the trap of negative or anxious thoughts. You just take a moment without the mind fussing about things. Breathing is an important part of meditation and allows you to take some space from the constant chatter that goes on in your mind.
Deep Breathing Technique
This technique is deeply relaxing and a great practice that can be done before meditation. You can do this to gain experience. It’s a great breathing technique during a moment of stress. Shallow breathing tells the brain that it’s time to fight or run away. Getting air into the lower lungs at a time like that will help you to relax right away, alleviating stress.
Put one hand on your heart and the other hand on your belly.
Inhale through your nose and concentrate on your belly pushing your hand out. Try to do this to a count of four.
Exhale through your mouth and let all the air out of your belly to the count of four.
Repeat this five times of more.
With the combination of yoga asanas, breathing techniques, and mindfulness, you can learn to control the voice in your mind. It will not have control over you anymore. When you go into a meeting, your body won’t turn into a cold sweat of tension. You can look at your mind with clarity and let the thoughts go that can cause so much stress. The way to do this is to become the judge. Sit in the high seat of yourself. That inner voice shouldn’t have control over your life.
It is not coming from a place of “right now.” Life should freely unfold in front of you without preconceived notions on how it will turn out. This is the power of introducing yoga into your life. It starts with that one decision. You’ll get better at doing yoga and your breathing will improve. You’ll be able to sit quietly for longer and practice letting thoughts move through your mind like big white clouds moving across the sky.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes,and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga.