By Dr. Michael Ketterhagen
The daily roller coaster that all of us experience becomes difficult to manage without some regular time of quieting ourselves. The easiest way to quiet the ups and downs of the mind and therefore the constant movement of the emotions and moods of our daily lives is to give the mind an opportunity to focus on one thing. The easiest way to focus our mind is to focus on our own diaphragmatic breathing.
This approach has been verified by Dr. Herbert Benson, a Harvard Medical School graduate and the Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital who coined the term “relaxation response“ to describe “a physical state that is the direct opposite of the stress response.” According to an article by the Senior Director of the institute, Mary Wilcher, the relaxation response “is a state of deep rest where the mind is quiet, breathing is slowed, metabolism decreases and muscles relax.”
Research has shown that during diaphragmatic breathing, the brain waves begin to slow down producing alpha waves. These alpha waves begin to stabilize the electrical flow of energy in our brains. No longer do we ride the roller coaster—going from anxiety to depression, from feeling euphoric to feeling sad. But we begin to move our mind along a straight, flat and smooth path of contentment and balance.
Two yoga positions can help us establish diaphragmatic breathing. One, the corpse pose, is lying on our back with a book or a hand on the belly, mentally watching and feeling the belly go up and down as we breathe smoothly, continuously and evenly through our nose.
The other position is the crocodile. In this pose we lie on our belly and put our forehead on our crossed arms which are directly underneath our chin. We then mentally watch the small of the back rise and fall while breathing through our nose. The breath automatically becomes smooth, continuous and even as the position is maintained. This posture works especially well when we have an anxiety attack or can’t stop worrying about something.
These two postures will establish diaphragmatic breathing and your mind will become happy and balanced. You will again begin to discover the joy of yoga, the comfort of joyful living.
Dr. Ketterhagen teaches a Meditation I class every 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Monday evening of the month. Each session includes practice, lecture, and discussion including the basics of establishing focused diaphragmatic breathing. He also teaches Trantic Yoga at the Center every Thursday at 5:30 PM.
For information or to register for a meditation class click HERE
To see a calendar of yoga classes click HERE
Stress Awareness: How Parents Can Help Their Children with Stress by Mary Wilcher accessed at http://www.massgeneral.org/children/about/newsarticle.aspx?id=3530