The Power of Meeting Stress with Softness

Yoga, mindfulness, and somatic awareness expert Jillian Pransky shows how tuning in to your body can unwind tension, de-stress the mind, and open your heart

When you really pay attention to your breath, it’s astonishing how much you notice. As I follow the sensation of cool air flowing into my nose, I feel a gentle expansion, a widening through my nasal cavity, back into my skull, and down my throat. My collarbones rise and spread; my ribs separate and widen like a bellows.

Exhaling, my diaphragm contracts into the cave of my abdomen, my spine curling ever so slightly around it. All the while, my body feels as if it’s sinking into the floor. My mind follows the gravitational pull, its perpetual whirl slowed to a pleasant hum. 

This single breath cycle takes less than 20 seconds, but an hour could easily have passed. It occurs to me that it’s like that movie Interstellar—as if I’ve left the normal time–space continuum and awakened to a whole new world of sensation inside, as I lie here, covered in blankets, a weighted pillow across my hips, drinking in this wildly restorative substance called air. 

I’m not normally so observant of my breath. But I’m following Jillian Pransky’s voice, a bit raspy, slow and clear and incredibly relaxing. She’s guiding me through her signature Deep Listening practice, which,…

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About the author

Kelle Walsh

Kelle is a contributing editor for Mindful magazine. She writes and edits from Boulder, Colorado, where she loves running trails and doing yoga, and trying to learn to ski. In the past, she served as managing editor and executive digital editor for Yoga Journal. A longtime mindfulness practitioner, she specializes in health and lifestyle journalism for publications including Rodale’s Organic Life and Experience Life.