MIND + BODY TECHNIQUES

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KAPALABHATI BREATHING

This cleansing breath can help you not only release stress and toxins from the mind and body, it can also help release negative emotions, shake off sluggishness, and energize you. The important thing to remember for this exercise is that your exhale is the forceful, powerful movement and your inhale is passive, happening naturally without trying. Start this practice at a slow pace, and with time you can build some speed if it feels comfortable for you to do so.

  1. Sit comfortably in an upright posture and rest your hands on your lower belly. If you’re sitting in a chair, make sure to place both feet on the ground.

  2. Take a deep, cleansing breath before you begin, in through your nose and out through your mouth.

  3. Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air about ¾ way full.

  4. In a quick motion, forcefully expel all the air from your lungs while drawing your navel in toward your spine. The primary movement is from your diaphragm.

  5. Allow your lungs to fill up naturally, with no effort as your belly expands.

  6. Perform this cycle 10 times, then allow your breathing to return to normal and observe the sensations in your body.

  7. Repeat these cycles of 10 movements, 3 to 4 times.

Contraindication: Do not practice if you are pregnant, or if you have high blood pressure, acid gastric issues, heart disease, or abdominal pain. You should also stop or slow down if you feel dizzy or anxious.

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EFT TAPPING

Saying affirmations or mantras while doing Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can help decrease anxiety and increase mental resilience. Similar to acupuncture, EFT focuses on the meridian points to restore balance to your body’s energy. It’s believed that restoring this energy balance can relieve symptoms of negative experiences or emotions.

 

Tapping helps you access your body’s energy and send sensory signals to the part of the brain that controls stress. Stimulating the meridian points through EFT tapping can reduce stress or negative emotions, ultimately restoring balance to your disrupted energy.

The EFT tapping sequence is the methodic tapping on the ends of nine meridian points.

There are 12 major meridians that mirror each side of the body and correspond to an internal organ. However, EFT mainly focuses on these nine:

  • karate chop - small intestine meridian

  • top of head - governing vessel

  • eyebrow - bladder meridian

  • side of the eye - gallbladder meridian

  • under the eye - stomach meridian

  • under the nose - governing vessel

  • chin - central vessel

  • beginning of the collarbone - kidney meridian

  • under the arm - spleen meridian

Begin by tapping the karate chop point while simultaneously reciting your setup phrase three times. Then, tap each following point seven times, moving down the body in this ascending order. After tapping the underarm point, finish the sequence at the top of the head point. While tapping the ascending points, recite a reminder phrase to maintain focus on your problem area. If your setup phrase is, “Even though I’m sad my mother is sick, I deeply and completely accept myself,” your reminder phrase can be, “The sadness I feel that my mother is sick.” Recite this phrase at each tapping point. Repeat this sequence two or three times.

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COLD EXPOSURE

Cold exposure therapy is any form of short exposure to cold — ending your shower in a cold water spray to your torso for a few minutes, taking an ice bath or cold plunge for 4-6 minutes, and getting a whole body cryotherapy treatment in a chemically chilled tank.

You might be wondering right now why on earth anyone would do this. Well, it turns out that the benefits of cold exposure therapy are significant. Cold therapy introduces a good stress, called ‘eustress’, to the body. Eustress helps your body to better adapt to bad stress, or ‘distress’ (caused by inadequate sleep, emotional stress, chronic disease, etc.). There is also a big cascade of hormone, immune, and neurotransmitter effects that can have a positive impact on the body over time.

It takes a while to get used to a shockingly cold shower first thing in the morning or any time you choose; these following tips should be helpful at getting started.

  1. Gradually decrease the temperature of the water so your body can adjust.  Start with a comfortable warm water temp and slowly decrease to the coldest setting.

  2. Try to relax and control your breathing.  Stay calm.  Don’t tighten or clench up every muscle.  Focus your mind on the pain; you must suppress your impulse to shiver.

  3. Try to remain in the cold shower for at least one minute the first day; work your way up to 5 minutes. You might try just one minute for several days in a row before you step up to 2 and such. Keep working until you get to 5 minutes.

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VISUALIZATION

Visualization – seeing the goal as already complete in your mind’s eye – is a core technique used by the world’s most successful people. Visualization is effective because it harnesses the power of our subconscious mind.

When we visualize goals as complete, it creates a conflict in our subconscious mind between what we are visualizing and what we currently have. The mind is hard-wired to resolve such conflicts by working to create a current reality that matches the one we have envisioned.

Visualization activates the creative powers of the subconscious mind, motivating it to work more efficiently at creating solutions. You’ll also notice new levels of engagement and find yourself doing things that normally you would avoid, but that will take you closer to success.

The third way visualization boosts success is by programming the Reticular Activating System (RAS), which serves as a mental filter for the 8 million bits of information that are streaming into our brains at any one time. The RAS thinks in pictures, not words. Daily visualization feeds the RAS the pictures it needs to start filtering information differently. As a result, your RAS will start to pay attention to anything that might help you achieve your goals – information that it otherwise might ignore.

Visualization is really quite simple. You sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and imagine — in as vivid detail as you can — what you would be looking at if the dream you have were already realized. Imagine being inside of yourself, looking out through your eyes at the ideal result.

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MUDRAS & MANTRAS

Mantras are chanted or repeated silently. When chanted or spoken aloud, we activate the healing capacities of connecting the brain to the mouth, lips and tongue. Even if repeated silently, mantras can help focus the mind during meditation.

Some common mantras include:

  • Kirtan kriya – Four syllables, sa ta na ma, meaning birth, life death and rebirth – make up this classic mantra. The Kirtan kriya can be highly effective in focusing the mind during meditation when it is repeated over and over in a melodic way.

  • Peace mantras – Om shanti shanti shanti is a common mantra used to call in peace, often heard at the end of a yoga class or to conclude a longer chant. Another mantra for peace can be more personal, such as breathing in “I am at peace,” and repeating it on the exhale. If “at peace” does not resonate with you, you can substitute another state of being to help bring a sense of ease to the mind and body.

  • Devotional mantras – Mantras can also be used to chant devotion to a belief system. One of the most common devotional mantras is the Gaytri mantra, which Sri Swami Satchidananda translates as “Let us meditate on Isvara [God] and His Glory who has created the Universe, who is fit to be worshipped, who is the remover of all sins and ignorance. May he enlighten our intellect." 

Given the concentration of nerve endings in the hands and fingers, using mudras in meditation is said to be the most effective body-based yoga style to improve brain function. It also makes mudras one of the most accessible forms of asana, given the undeniably physical aspect of the practice. If you’re working with a client in a hospital setting, or if you’re working to introduce a more physical practice, mudras can be a great way to ease into asana.

Some common mudras

  • Anjali mudra -- The most common mudra most of us are familiar with is Anjali mudra, or bringing the hands to a prayer position at the center of the chest. This is a devotional position meant to bring awareness to the heart’s center and can be found within many other asanas.

  • Dhyana mudra – Place the non-dominant hand in the lap, face-up, with the dominant hand resting face-up on top of it. This is a powerful mantra for promoting healing and balance, by symbolically cradling our yang side and allowing it to rest.

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BINAURAL BEATS

Binaural beat therapy is an emerging form of sound wave therapy. It makes use of the fact that the right and left ear each receive a slightly different frequency tone, yet the brain perceives these as a single tone. Advocates of this type of therapy currently recommend it for the treatment of anxietystress, and related disorders. This self-help treatment is usually available in the form of audio recordings that a person listens to on stereo headphones.

The findings of a 2018 study suggest that listening to binaural beats for a recommended period can affect a person’s subsequent behavior and sleep cycles.

The study authors explain that there are five different categories of frequency pattern:

  • Delta pattern: Binaural beats in the delta pattern operate at a frequency of 0.5–4 Hz with links to a dreamless sleep. In the study, people who received a delta pattern frequency during sleep entered a deeper stage of sleep, according to electroencephalogram (EEG) brain scan results.

  • Theta pattern: Practitioners set binaural beats in the theta pattern to a frequency of 4–7 Hz. Theta patterns contribute to improved meditation, creativity, and sleep in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase.

  • Alpha pattern: Binaural beats in the alpha pattern are at a frequency of 7–13 Hz and may encourage relaxation.

  • Beta pattern: Binaural beats in the beta pattern are at a frequency of 13–30 Hz. This frequency range may help promote concentration and alertness. However, it can also increase anxiety at the higher end of the range.

  • Gamma pattern: This frequency pattern accounts for a range of 30–50 Hz. The study authors suggest that these frequencies promote maintenance of arousal while a person is awake.

The purpose of using binaural beats therapy may differ among individuals. Some people may need help decreasing their anxiety, while others might want to increase their concentration or deepen their level of meditation.

Proponents of binaural beat therapy suggest that the potential benefits include:

  • reduced stress and anxiety

  • increased focus, concentration, and motivation

  • improved confidence

  • better long term memory after exposure to beta pattern frequencies, according to a 2019 study

  • deeper meditation

  • enhanced psychomotor performance and mood