It’s been a tough month and especially tough if you have kids in school. The landscape seems to change daily. I keep hearing things like:
” I can’t handle stress like I use to” or I feel “Fight, Flight and Freeze all in one day” or I am so tired and my joints hurt” or “I feel swollen of puffy” or my “Blood Pressure is High” and the list goes on.
Every cell in our body needs adequate Oxygen to be healthy!
Cellular respiration, the process by which organisms combine oxygen with foodstuff molecules, diverting the chemical energy in these substances into life-sustaining activities and discarding, as waste products, carbon dioxide and water.
I was introduced to breathwork AKA Pranayama through my daily yoga practice and has become a huge part of my morning routine. I am truly grateful for this practice especially during this time, so I thought I would share some of my favorite types of breath work with you… just incase you could use some extra calming and oxygen too!
FYI. This is a E BOOK/ HANDOUT and long but so worth it. Enjoy and LMK what you think.
Lastly, If you haven’t heard, I am back in person starting Sept 9th. So excited and so ready to share my knowledge and skills as much as I can while I can. TY
THE IMPORTANCE OF BREATHWORK
I practice different kinds of techniques but a favorite that is effective and easy is Box Breathing.
What Is Breathwork?
Breathwork is the conscious practice of deliberately manipulating how you breathe—and bringing awareness and intention to it—with the goal of calming the body and mind.
There are many benefits to breathing with awareness. It increases lung capacity, strengthens the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, and improves the mind-body connection. It boosts your mood, increases joy and happiness, and helps digestion. It also improves cellular health, detoxification, and metabolism.
“When we feel good, we feel confident, and our self-image and self-esteem get a boost too.”
Conscious breathwork calms the nervous system, it also helps relieve stress and anxiety. Breathwork can really allow us to take stock of our thoughts—moving negative thoughts to positive, which can have a huge impact on how we feel.
How to Pick the Right Breathwork Technique for You
If you’re breathing, bringing awareness to your breath, and you are feeling good doing it, then that is the best method for you in the moment. I have listed a few of my favorites for you so you can experiment.
When Should You Use Breathwork?
Anytime you need the calming effects, however morning is an ideal time to practice before your mind has the chance to start worrying too much about the day ahead. When you wake up with morning anxiety, focused breathing is a simple technique to help stop any kind of irrational thoughts and negative feelings in their tracks, preventing them from developing into a full-blown bout of stress that’ll stay with you throughout the day.
Meditating or practicing breathwork techniques in the morning instills a sense of calm, establishes a sense of awareness and consciousness and the act of self-care.
Personally, I do my breathwork as part of my morning routine.
“I take care of me so I can take care of you”
BREATHWORK TECHNIQUES TO TRY
Deep Breathing/Belly Breathing
Deep breathing (also known as belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing) helps strengthen the diaphragm, an important breathing muscle, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This signals the body to relax and calm down. It also reduces levels of cortisol—a stress hormone in the body.
• Sit or lie down comfortably somewhere you can be uninterrupted, if possible.
• Consciously relax your shoulders and lower your tongue from the roof of your mouth to help release tension in your jaw.
• Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
• Breathe in through the nose for a count of four, allowing the air deep into your abdomen so your stomach expands. Try to keep your upper body, chest, and shoulders relatively still.
• Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth for a count of eight.
• Repeat as many times as you’d like, always directing the breath toward your abdomen.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
“Using the hands to alternate the opening and closing of the nostrils gives the mind something to think about, helps us focus, and [prevents] the mind from wandering toward worries and to-dos.
• Sit comfortably.
• Exhale completely, and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
• Inhale through your left nostril, and then close the left nostril with your ring finger and pinky.
• Open the right nostril, and exhale through it.
• Inhale through the right nostril, and then close this nostril.
• Open the left nostril, and exhale through the left side.
• Continue the same pattern for up to five minutes.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation brings the sensory connection of the mind and body together by consciously and deliberately tightening then relaxing each muscle group sequentially from head to toe. There is something so energizing and empowering about this ‘giving your body permission to let go’ technique.
What makes this technique so powerful is that it helps you learn to unconsciously release physical stress and tension in the body. As you move down the body from one muscle group to another, start to pay attention to how your body feels holding tension.
• Lie on your back.
• Inhale and tighten the muscles near the top of your head and face for four to 10 seconds.
• Exhale quickly, fully, and rapidly relaxing the tightened muscle groups.
• Resume regular breathing for a few breaths.
• Inhale, tightening the next group of muscles down the body from the top of your head to your toes (forehead, then jaw, neck, shoulders, chest/back, etc., ending with toes).
• Exhale quickly, releasing that muscle group.
• Take a few regular breaths before tightening the next group.
Boxed Breathing (Sama Vritti)
Box breathing is a powerful, yet simple, relaxation technique that aims to return breathing to its normal rhythm. This breathwork exercise may help to clear the mind, relax the body, and improve focus. The technique is also known as “resetting your breath” or four-square breathing. It is easy to do, quick to learn, and is a highly effective technique for anyone in a stressful situation.
People with high-stress jobs, such as soldiers and police officers, often use box breathing when their bodies are in fight-or-flight mode. This technique is also relevant for anyone interested in re-centering themselves or improving their concentration.
Research shows that Box Breathing decreases anxiety and depression, it lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) and blood pressure. It also improves mental clarity, and digestion.
Box breathing is a simple technique that you can do anywhere, including at a work desk or in a cafe. Before starting, you should sit with your back supported in a comfortable chair and your feet on the floor.
• Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
• Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
• Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
• Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns.
For more advanced work: Try WIM HOFF METHOD
The only time your breathwork choice can be counterproductive is in cases of trauma, PTSD, depression, or severe anxiety. In these situations, she suggests working with a trained professional
“Breathwork changes your state and therefore your environment”