In my post on meditation I covered breath and how it can be helpful for reducing stress and overwhelm. Today I am going to talk about breathwork specifically and its benefits.
What is breathwork?
Breathwork has its roots in Eastern countries and has been around for hundreds of years where it was integrated in the likes of Yoga and Tai Chi practices, it grew in popularity in the 1906's and 1970's. You might have heard of the iceman Wim Hof which has gotten a lot of publicity in recent times. Wim Hof uses a type of breathwork to energise the body and help him and others reduce the shock and pain one would normally experience when exposed to cold temperatures. Breathwork is a series of breathing exercises that span over 20 minutes to one hour to complete. There are different styles such as pranayama and Kundalini yoga which involves movement, they aim to bring about a sense of self awareness and help to build resilience.
Different types of breathwork
Zen Yoga Breathwork
Benefits of Breathwork
Breathwork can be used to energize, bring about focus and clarity and also to bring about a sense of calm when working through stressful times. In my previous posts I have spoken about how stress can increase blood pressure as well as our cortisol levels, well breathwork has the ability to decrease both! How great is that?
Another great benefit is breathwork reduced oxygen levels in your blood and helps you expel more carbon dioxide, this causes your autonomic nervous system to create more epinephrine which is your bodies own anti-inflammatory and also increases blood ph. Say good bye to those nasty stress induced aches and pains!
There have been quite a few medical studies that have proven that breathwork has the ability to reduce perceived stress, improve attention span and concentration, increase positivity and decrease anxiety.
How can you integrate breathwork into your everyday life?
Simply inhaling through your nose and then exhaling through your nose can be a great way to slow your breathing naturally. Another technique often used in yogic practices is alternate nostril breathing, this is best practices in a seated position, either in a chair or on a mat or cushion whatever is most comfortable for you. Start by exhaling completely then placing your right thumb on your right nostril to block it. Inhale through your left nostril then block your left nostril with your pink finger exhaling through your right nostril. Alternate by now inhaling through your right nostril (left nostril blocked), then exhaling through your left nostril. Repeat this cycle of breath for 5 minutes with your last exhale on your left nostril.
Often referred to as diaphragmatic breathing is easiest practiced when laying down or in a seated position. Start by either sitting comfortably in a chair or on a cushion or if laying down on your back bend your knees with your feet touching the ground. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach just below your ribcage this will help you feel your body move with breath. The hand on your chest should not move too much during this practice as the idea is to breath from your diaphragm. First inhale through your nose slowly you should be able to feel your stomach rise. Next exhale through your mouth slowly feeling your stomach falling inward towards your spine on your exhale. Practice this daily and notice the benefits! It can also be great to be mindful of your breath throughout the day notice when you are not taking full deep breaths and come back to this technique when needed.
I hope this helps by adding another coping technique to your toolbox!
Until next time,
Love and light,