Planning a wedding can be stressful; navigating all the decisions, keeping everyone happy and of course managing a budget but what about the day itself. You will be both full of excitement, but also more than likely, full of wedding nerves too. Firstly, remember it will be GREAT! We love to share tips to get you through any worries such as how to sleep better the night before and how to overcome anxiety if you’re an introvert and today we are sharing the power of breathing. Sounds simple right? But actually, we often forget to breathe properly especially when we are excited or nervous. Today we hear from Deborah Green, a yoga teacher based here in the UK who shares her tips on using our breath to calm ourselves before and during the wedding and banish those wedding nerves.
Your Breath is Your Super Power
The involuntary movement that is happening right as you read this, the rise & fall of your chest? There lies your power & by simply noticing it, becoming aware of it & knowing how to tweak it, you can begin to transform your energy, shift the stress response of the Amygdala, tone the Vagus nerve, increase blood oxygenation, lower stress hormones, improve cognitive function, increase creativity…the benefits are endless. All of those biological & hormonal shifts ultimately bring us into a state of balance, equilibrium & bliss.
Consider your breath as a beautiful bridge between your body & mind. The ancient yogic texts have practiced & praised the life-changing benefits of pranayama (the expansion of life force) for thousands of years & science is starting to catch up.
When we are startled or shocked we hold or take a short intake of breath, when we are stressed it becomes shallow & shorter, all of this as well as habitual patterns of poor breathing (even societal pressures of holding in the belly to appear slimmer) can actually trigger anxiety disorders. However, we always have the ability to control and shape our breath and with an almost immediate effect, we can tap into a calmer state where we become more likely to respond than react.
One of the many lovely benefits of a breath-focused practice or micro-practices (as I’ll discuss later) is the sense of connection. Connection to ourselves & how we are truly feeling and simply allow a bit of validation around those feelings. We can be so drawn away & disconnected from ourselves with our addiction to our phones, work, back to our phones & lastly our phones…they lure our attention away & when we begin to consciously spend some of our precious time tuning back to our breath, we return home, we reconnect & we can begin to feel grounded & settled.
It’s a beautiful feeling & it’s free.
Many of us breathe incorrectly – if you’re unsure, take your hands to your belly and take a deep inhale.. does your belly contract in or expand? We want it to expand just like a balloon inflating.
Begin to take your attention to your navel and all of the stomach muscles surrounding it. Feel how much tension you are holding here and simply let it go.
Now allow yourself to breathe naturally but start to notice a gentle “rise” of the belly/chest as you inhale & the “fall” of the belly and chest as you exhale.
This is how we should be breathing.
A technique I often share in my classes is Sama Vritti (balanced breathing). We use a silent count to help to lengthen the inhale and exhale. The effectiveness of this lies in its simplicity – eg, inhale for 4 counts & exhale for 4 counts. The silent count works like a mantra, it helps us to remain focused. After 3-5 minutes of this, notice how you feel.
A wonderful way to settle the nervous system (and this practice is also great for sleep) is to lengthen the exhale. I encourage people to simply add one more count onto the exhale until the exhale is twice as long as the inhale. This process should not be rushed, you may find an inhale for 4 and an exhale for 6 feels wonderful but extending the exhale to a count of 8 feels forced.
Begin with Sama Vritti
Inhale 1..2..3..4 Exhale 1..2..3..4 repeat for 10 cycles
Inhale 1..2..3..4 Exhale 1..2..3..4..5 repeat for 3 cycles
Inhale 1..2..3..4 Exhale 1..2..3..4..5..6 repeat for 3 cycles
Continue this slow extension of the exhale but never to the point of strain.
When to practice
Do you need to be in a yoga class to benefit from these techniques? Do you need a meditation space in your home? No, & no.
If you can set aside 10 minutes in the morning, maybe as you sit up in bed or stand in the shower or sit with your morning tea/coffee then wonderful & this will undoubtedly set you up for the day. Try to incorporate this into your bedtime routine too.
Also, consider how you can weave micro-breathing practices into your day.
I love to practice as I walk my dog but my favourite time is when I’m stuck in traffic or waiting in a queue. It was those times when I used to “kill time” on my phone & doom-scroll. Now I use these minutes to reconnect & breathe or… breathe & reconnect.
How about right now?
Or as the kettle boils, as you wait in traffic before you begin to write an email or report or any work-related task, take 5 slow breaths then begin. A great time is when you are with an energy vampire & without them even realising you start to tune in, notice your belly & begin to consciously slow your breath & you’ll also find that you’ll feel less drained after being “talked at”.
Do this in the lead-up to the wedding and even on the day itself to banish the wedding nerves once and for all.
The benefits are endless.
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