Yoga for addiction makes so much sense. In today’s society, we are deluged with distractions and temptations — a Starbucks or two in every neighborhood, grocery store aisles stocked from floor to ceiling with processed food, hundreds of channels on your TV, the omnipresent blinking or beeping of your phone or computer trying to get your attention. It’s easy to become addicted to the escape or the numbing these outlets create. A yoga practice creates stillness, awareness, and peace of mind, so it’s a wonderful antidote to addictive impulses. Some of the most important tools in the yoga for addiction toolbox are conscious breathing techniques, such as segmented breath.
When we focus on the breath, we come into the moment and into awareness where we are more likely to make good choices. The following segmented breath, Breath for Energy, from the Kundalini Yoga tradition can support you in breaking old habits and addictions. Give it a try! Here’s how:
1. In easy pose, sit with a straight spine and bring the palms together at the level of the heart in prayer.
2. Beneath the closed lids, turn the eyes up and in to the brow point (where the eyebrows would meet).
3. Inhale through the nose in 4 equal strokes (in a sniffing motion) and exhale in 4 equal parts.
4. Continue for three to five minutes.
5. Finally, inhale deeply and press the palms together with maximum force for 10 seconds and exhale. Rest for 15-20 seconds and then repeat the palm pressing sequence twice more.
To enhance this practice, you can add an internal, silent mantra to focus the mind.If you like, use the mantra Sa Ta Na Ma — silently vibrating one syllable per breath stroke. Contained within these four little syllables is the entire cycle of life: Sa means Infinity (or your chosen word for Creation or the Divine); Ta means life; Na means death or transformation; and Ma means rebirth. If you’re trying to shed unhealthy behaviors, let this mantra be your friend. It is a catalyst for change.
I will be teaching Breath for Energy along with many other Kundalini Yoga techniques for moving beyond unhealthy behaviors in a workshop entitled Breaking Old Habits and Addictions on Saturday, June 16 from 5-7:30pm at Aquarian Yoga in Montclair, NJ. If you’re in or around Montclair this weekend, come join me.