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  • Writer's pictureAlexander James

The SKY Breathing Benefits For Covid Frontline Workers

The last few years have really taken their toll on us all, with rates of depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia and other such related disorders skyrocketing because of the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns.

But healthcare and frontline workers have really borne the brunt of it, faced with unprecedented challenges as a result of the crisis, ranging from concerns about their own health and safety to lack of resources to do their jobs, not being able to care for patients adequately and feeling unsupported by government.

When it comes to dealing with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression and so on, using meditative techniques like the SKY breathing method could prove particularly useful, especially for healthcare providers who are finding that they’re struggling at the moment.

Research looking into the impact of yogic breathing on the wellbeing of healthcare professionals during the pandemic has found that it had a really positive impact, with participants reporting improved sleep quality, enhanced life satisfaction and increased resilience.

Carried out by scientists from the Sri Sri Institute for Advanced Research in India, the study - published in the Global Advances in Health and Medicine journal - was set up to investigate the impact of SKY on the health and wellbeing of those in healthcare during the crisis.

Participants were taught the techniques in a four-day online breath and meditation workshop, with outcomes measured in relation to depression, anxiety, resilience, sleep quality and life satisfaction.

The SKY technique itself is a method of cyclical controlled breathing and meditation practice, with a typical session lasting half an hour and consisting of four distinct yogic breathing stages.

Immediately after the intervention, the study participants saw significant reductions in stress, anxiety and depression. Quality of sleep was also seen to improve immediately afterwards, continuing to improve at day 40 of the study, indicative of a sustained beneficial effect of SKY practice.

With its roots in traditional yoga, SKY breathing has been studied over the years for the impact it can have on medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and addiction. Results have shown it to be effective in relation to emotional regulation, autonomic modulation and immune function.

What’s also interesting about the practice is that it can be taught online, so can be learnt even if someone is in quarantine or lockdown - so it is a valuable source of support during stressful times like the pandemic.

The lead authors of this latest pilot study concluded that SKY did have a positive impact on reducing stress, anxiety and depression in healthcare providers during the pandemic. Furthermore, the results suggest that sustained improvements in quality of sleep among this demographic could be seen because of SKY, as well as greater satisfaction with life and greater resilience.

Such attributes are absolutely essential for healthcare workers so they can continue to care for their patients in extenuating circumstances with passion and professionalism. Such interventions could also be used as prudent options for stress management.

How can The Mindful Therapist help?

I use SKY breath meditation as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, drawing on elements from CBT, hypnotherapy and mindfulness-based therapies to help all my clients overcome a range of different emotional and mental health issues.

SKY breath is a powerfully effective and unique method of cyclical controlled breathing and meditation practice, using the innate ability of the breath to trigger an automatic quieting of the mind, which can lead to a deep experience of profound relaxation, whether you’re new to meditation or have been doing it for years.

It takes around 35 minutes to complete the practice and once I’ve taught my clients the technique, they are then provided with tutorial videos and a recording to practise each day.

Another benefit of practising SKY techniques is that they can be incredibly effective at calming the mind and helping you to recentre yourself quickly, working even at times of high emotional stress or when your mind is restless.

If you’d like to find out more about the technique and how you could benefit, get in touch with The Mindful Therapist today to discuss mental health workshops in London or online.

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