Imagine having a tool that you can use anywhere, anytime to change your mindset and improve your relationship with your children and the people in your life. Well, you do!

It is your breath.

Every week at the Red Tent Collective I facilitate a Circle of Mothers. We usually have around 10 mothers and at least that many children. As you can imagine, our circles are very lively!

Mindful Mothers Circle

I like to begin the circle with a breathing practice to create a sense of peace and connection. The breath we use is called Ujjayi breath (translated as “victorious” and pronounced oo-jai).

As soon as we begin to practice there is a shift in the Energy of the circle and we notice how we feel more peaceful, more centered and more connected to each other. We also notice a shift in the children. They begin to settle down and gather in the middle of the circle, playing quietly while we are breathing.

Imagine! You can make this kind of shift in your life just by breathing consciously.

To do the Ujjayi breath, pretend that you are fogging a glass. Some people say it sounds like the ocean and for some, it sounds like Darth Vader. To learn how to do it, please watch the video below.

This breath is used in active yoga practices to invite us into the physical body. Here I am using it to invite us into the present moment.

vagus nerveHow does this work? The Ujjayi breath activates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is one of 12 cranial nerves. It is the longest of the cranial nerves. Vagus means “wandering” and it does! It begins at the brainstem where its two branches innervate the throat, heart, lungs and the digestive system.

When the vagus nerve is activated, it engages the parasympathetic response. We are all too familiar with the sympathetic response, or the fight-flight or freeze response. That is like having your foot on the gas pedal! The counterpart to the sympathetic response is the parasympathetic response; also known as the rest and digest response of the autonomic nervous system. This is the response that causes calmness in the system and supports healing in the body.

When we are in this parasympathetic state, it is so much easier for us to think more clearly, to speak more clearly, to listen more attentively and this creates a deeper connection with our children and with the people in our lives.

This breath is also highly beneficial for anyone who is experiencing depression, anxiety, or is in the middle of something very stressful… such as childbirth.

Stimulating the vagus nerve also reduces the inflammatory response throughout our system, raises immunity and raises the level of endorphins, creating positive feelings in the body and reducing the sensation of pain. Researchers are looking into ways to activate the vagus nerve for different conditions including depression, epilepsy and even cancer.

I invite you to give it a try! Enjoy your breath!