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  • Writer's pictureAlexander James

What Are The Health Benefits Of The SKY Breath Technique?

Breathing. It’s something that we all take for granted, a completely automatic process that we often do without thinking. But our breath is the essence of life and bringing our attention to it more can help us feel more connected to our inner selves, through the practice of meditation. Modern life can certainly be exhausting and take all sorts of tolls on our mental, physical and emotional health and wellbeing… and, of course, the last two years or so have been particularly challenging for all of us the world over, so it would be no surprise if you weren’t feeling exhausted, anxious, stressed or depressed. But turning your attention to the breath could actually help you navigate your way through the 21st century and all the challenges it represents, with meditation known to calm your mind, recharge your energy and get rid of any residual stress or tension you may be clinging onto without knowing it, helping you to build resilience - even in the face of constant change. The SKY Breath breathing technique could be a great place to begin if you’re new to meditation. This particular practice brings with it all sorts of different benefits, beyond just helping you to relax at the end of the day. It can help flush out any stress and negative emotions you may have in your system, quieting the mind by only using the breath, without engaging the mind in any way, helping you to gain a greater sense of inner peace. A recent study by the universities of Yale and Stanford, published in the Frontiers in Psychiatry journal in 2020, compared three wellbeing interventions - SKY breath, mindfulness and emotional intelligence. It was found that SKY was the only intervention to show statistically significant improvements in measures of wellbeing, including stress, depression, mental health, social connectedness, positivity and mindfulness. A follow-up three months later saw that these improvements in the SKY group were even stronger. The SKY breathing technique is easy to practice and works uniquely, making use of your innate ability to breath to establish an automatic quieting of the mind, allowing you to enter into a deeper experience of meditation - even if you’re new to it or have been practising for years. Another benefit of practising the SKY technique is that it can be incredibly effective at calming your mind and helping you to recentre quickly, even at times of high emotional stress or when your mind is restless. Because of the core technique, you’re bringing your mind and your emotions in tune with the rhythm of your body… and you can continue to practice this throughout the day, helping you to navigate whatever set of circumstances present themselves more successfully and with less detriment to your health and wellbeing. SKY itself actually stands for Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, which has its roots in traditional yoga that provides relief for depression. It is characterised by a specific sequence of varying breathing rates, with brief periods of normal breathing. Various studies over the years have found that daily SKY practice can help improve sleep quality and support those with insomnia. It has also been found to be effective in improving PTSD symptoms and depression scores in tsunami refugees, as well as in Australian Vietnam war veterans with longstanding PTSD. It has also been found to help heal cognitive distortions and deep emotional wounds caused by trauma, treating the problems of feeling alone, abandoned and cast out by society by helping people to rebuild a sense of an interdependent, tolerant and caring community where they can be accepted and valued. Another benefit of this particular type of meditative breathing is that it can be taught to large groups in just a couple of days, helping to relieve feelings of stress, depression and anxiety, as well as insomnia, quickly and effectively. This could prove particularly advantageous right now, with so much going on around us. Figures from the Mental Health Foundation show that since the first lockdown was enforced in March 2020, adults in the UK have in general slowly become less able to cope with the associated stress of the pandemic. If you’ve been feeling as though these negative emotions are starting to overwhelm you, doing some research into the SKY technique and trying it out yourself could prove particularly beneficial. If you need any further help or advice, get in touch with The Mindful Therapist today. I offer online therapy and this is just one of the different breathing techniques I use to help clients overcome anxiety, stress, depression and trauma symptoms.

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