Feeling Anxious? Try This Calming Pranayama
Fall is a season of transition and transitions are connected to vata. Vata creates movement in your body and in the environment. It is the principle of circulation in your physiology, and it’s the principle of wind in nature. During the autumn season, there is an excess of movement. The wind comes and blows the dried leaves off of the trees. There’s rapid change as the days get shorter and the nights quickly become colder.
It is a season not only of transition but also of depletion. After the abundance of the harvest, nature gets stripped down to its most basic bare-bones. Everything goes internal and hibernates. There’s a big shift from the fun, outward excitement of the summer sunshine and lots of extroverted play. Our energy subtly turns internal and our inner experience becomes more heightened.
Think about standing out in the wind with bare skin. You’d become cold, feel exposed, and vulnerable. If you stand there too long your skin will get rough and dry. There’s an emotional experience that goes along with this physiological and environmental equivalent—callousness, rigidity, confusion, withdrawn, anxious, overwhelm, fear. These are all signs of excess vata in the mind and emotions.
For many, this can create anxiousness, more emotionality. Things may come into your awareness that you haven’t noticed. It forces you to face your inner shadows and fear of the darkness.
Bringing Balance and Peace
There are many great ways to balance this mental and physical excess of vata from an Ayurvedic perspective. One approach, for example, includes warm food, warm oil massage, and drinking warm, nourishing drinks, like Turmeric Milk (golden milk). You see this happening in nature as squirrels start harvesting the falling acorns and they fill up on these oils and proteins to sustain them through the winter. This represents the physical balancing of excess vata.
In addition to the many physical practices you can do to balance your body this time of year, there are also energetic practices, including pranayama, that can help cultivate calm in the nervous system and initiate more of a parasympathetic response, the aspect of your nervous system that helps you feel calm and safe.
The Power of Bhramari Pranayama
The best energetic practice you can use to reduce excess vata in the fall is called Bhramari Pranayama, or Humming Bee Breath. This practice helps relax the mind and therefore relax the physiology.
There are many different types of breathwork, some of which can exacerbate vata and anxiousness, but this one can actually calm and help the body physically feel more grounded. Bhramari Pranayama can even help you release tension and neutralize some of the angst and excess vata behind the uncomfortable feelings that come up when you’re facing more darkness outside and more of your internal emotions come to the surface.
This practice is known to release endorphins, put you in a state of upliftment, and create a sense of inner peace.
This practice also helps you withdraw your senses, giving a buffer from the light, the sound, the demands of the outside world in the form of grocery lists, holiday plans, the kids’ schedules, your own schedule, and so on. Instead, you can reconnect with that place within you that’s beyond the doing, helping you remember a deeper sense of being.
What would your daily life be like if you could just feel connected to a deep-rooted sense of calm and peace? How easy would it be to make decisions? How much ease would you like to bring into your productivity at work and at home?
After the first practice, you will likely experience results, feeling the calming, centering benefits. Build towards practicing it once each morning. It only takes a few minutes to complete one round. I promise the accumulative benefits will far outweigh the five minutes it takes to perform this simple exercise.
Learning the practice is simple—just follow the step-by-step instructions for Bhramari Pranayama (and be sure to read when this pranayama isn’t recommended, which you can also find with the instructions).
May this simple and transformative practice bring you greater peace, a feeling of connectedness, and mindful awareness!