Yoga is the dance of every cell with the music of every breath, which creates inner serenity and harmony. “- Debashish Mirdha, MD., Neurosurgeon & Philosopher
So you're in a mood.
How's it going?
What are your options to get over it?
Regardless of how you work through your moods, here are some things you should know:
Mood swings aren't "good" or "bad".
It gives us clues as to what is going on below the surface of our consciousness.
They are like the tip of the iceberg of our inner world – the world of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, perceptions, fears, etc.
A particularly bad mood can be like a ribbon that is in a loop and overdrive.
Just that the tape is our mind and we tend to play a hard loop when we are harassed / angry / annoyed / disappointed / overwhelmed / irritated … you have the idea.
So what do we do
We start to breathe.
We tune in to the breath and help it navigate through the waters of the mind and emotions.
Yogic sages have known for thousands of years that the breath is the portal through which we can transform stress and anxiety while accessing a state of inner calm and a grounded balance.
Our breathing patterns are closely related to our emotions.
Influence one and you influence the other.
They form the so-called breath-emotion loop:
1- Our emotions, thoughts and moods influence our breathing patterns.
The next time you're in the mood, pay attention to your breathing pattern. You will likely find it to be short, flat, irregular, and / or quick.
Then, note your breathing the next time you feel calm, confident, focused, or comfortable. Note that it will likely be slower, longer, more balanced, and / or deeper.
2- Our breathing patterns can affect our mood.
When you begin to breathe quickly and take short and shallow breaths, you are likely to feel either awake and alert or anxious and alert.
So if you breathe slowly and deeply, you will most likely feel less uncomfortable and more relaxed.
If we pay attention to our breathing patterns, we can learn a lot about our mood.
Often we are not even aware that we are in a mood until something or someone outside gives it back to us and only then do we recognize it.
We can become quieter and more present by consciously controlling our inhalations and exhalations, and this is how awareness arises.
And that's yoga too.
You don't have to use your body or a mat to practice yoga.
You can only use your breath and this is yoga practice (sadhana) too.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a 500 year old authoritative yogic text, states:
When the breath wanders, the mind is also insecure. But when the breath is calm, the mind will also be still and the yogi will have a long life.”
Cultivating the habit of daily breath awareness is so effective in calming the waves of the mind that even the Buddha himself taught the practice to monks.
In particular, the Buddhist Anapanasati Sutta, also known as "Discourse on Full Awareness of Breathing," describes Buddha's instructions on how to use the breath to cultivate calm focus and mindfulness (also known as Anapana breathing):
“Breathe in, I know I breathe in.
Breathe out, I know I breathe out.
When I breathe in, I'm aware of my whole body.
When I breathe out, I am aware of my whole body.
When I breathe in, I calm my whole body.
As I exhale, I calm my whole body. "
Paying attention to our breath means noticing and observing it without judging it and without having to change it in any way.
I only notice breathing in and out.
To become so awake, aware and present that we can actually begin to feel the inner waves that our breath creates.
Be fully aware of the feel and sensation of breath coming in and out of the nostrils.
When a thought occurs (which it will, especially when you are in the mood!), Just return your attention to the breath.
Every time the mind wanders, just bring it back to the present moment – the moment when you breathe for who you are. Right here, right now.
By cultivating this simple daily habit, we can begin to change the way we feel right now, so that we can eventually change the way we perceive our reality and our experiences.
This inevitably leads to strengthening changes in our mood and temperament.
In this way we use our breath and our consciousness to overcome emotional humps and hurdles faster, more efficiently and more productively.
Would you like to try it?
Take part in this guided meditation:
“When the breath wanders, the mind is also insecure. But when the breath is calm, the mind will be still too. "
You can calm your breath by just starting to pay attention to it.
This simple practice can have powerful exponential effects when it becomes a daily habit.
May you find peace and refuge in your breath.
Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Osmara Aryal, MBA, the founder of CalmWithYoga.com, a website devoted to the use of yoga philosophy, mindfulness, and meditation to improve inner calm, mental focus, life energy and to increase the quality of rest. She is a certified functional nutrition practitioner and certified yoga teacher, specializing in yoga nidra, yin yoga and meditation. Her work has been featured on CNN and the Miami Herald several times. When she is not exploring the corners of the world with her husband or when her eyes are not on the computer research, she will prepare healing dishes in her kitchen or cuddle with fur babies Yodha and Molly.