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One of the mantras I love to live by is that the simple things often make the most potent difference in life.
I have found this teaching to be true in my world through my waking morning rituals, one-on-one connection with friends, or the ability to take one tiny step towards a larger goal.
Even with the tools that yoga and holistic health and nutrition have offered me, stress is still a reality in my life.
To-do lists, errands, projects, cooking, keeping in touch, managing finances, and running a personal business, all take their toll.
One of the most basic and potent teachings from the yogic tradition involves deep breathing with an added little twist.
The Ujjayi breath or "victorious breath," is most commonly known as the "ocean-sounding breath."
It works wonders on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for inducing the relaxation response in the body.
Whether it is in the morning at home, or at a stoplight during traffic, I will often shift my breathing to this method when I feel stress creeping in. You can do it, too.
The technique is super simple.
1. Sit up straight.
2. Begin to breathe deeply from the nose expanding the belly, ribs, and eventually the collarbones.
3. Take time to slow down your exhalation.
4. After a few cycles of deep breath, continue the technique while incorporating a slight contraction at the very back of your throat - the glottis. (See the diagram above for more information.)
This contraction you make using the glottis will create a humming sound, or if you are a Star Wars fan, it will sound similar to how Darth Vader breathes. At first, you might find it easier to make the sound in one direction (inhale or exhale), but over time it will become smooth both ways.
Next time you feel tense, try out the "ocean-sounding breath" to soothe, ground, relax and reconnect.
For more information about Ujjayi and further step-by-step methods of achieving "ocean breath," visit the Yoga Journal.
More about Danny Arguetty, M.A.
Danny Arguetty, M.A., a Nutrition, Health and LIFE (Living in Free Expression) Counselor, has been involved in the health field for the last decade. He guides clients in the San Diego area utilizing customized wellness programs.
Danny specializes in supporting the GLBTQ community in losing weight, increasing energy, curing digestive distress, and in implementing simple and easy healthy living strategies. He also offers private yoga sessions, cooking instruction, or health food catering for individuals, couples, or small size gatherings.