You might think you’re dealing with all this “breathing” stuff. After all, this is one of those processes that (fortunately) happens automatically and (fortunately) doesn’t require anything on your to-do list.But beatwork Practicing inhaling and exhaling a little more consciously is a way to get more out of one of your body’s most important processes.
“Breathwork is the practice of breathing intentionally with exercises and techniques that change our physical and mental states in some way,” says Jackie, Mindfulness and Meditation Instructor at Aro Moves.・Stewart says. If you’ve ever decompressed by taking a deep breath followed by a dramatic sigh (exhale), congratulations. You are unconsciously performing a type of breathing exercise.
Ahead, Stewart provides a compelling argument for building an ongoing relationship with your breath that will serve you in good times and bad. Plus, next he shares some exercises that will help you the next time you encounter an SOS moment or just want to take a little time for yourself.
Benefits of breathwork
Writing breathwork on your calendar calms your body. and heart. “Breathwork is a powerful tool to help re-establish the mind-body connection,” says Stewart. “When we take a deep breath, it sends a signal to our brain and body that we are now safe. This shifts our nervous system from the flight-or-fight sympathetic nervous system to the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system, which is what we It will be in its natural state.” ”
The parasympathetic nervous system releases the hormone acetylcholine, which slows the heart rate. It also lowers blood pressure, increases gastric secretion (a great thing), and promotes proper digestion. All of this means a body that’s a little more calm, present, and ready to engage with the world.
“When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, we feel more relaxed, curious, and engaged with the world around us. Our perspective expands and we begin to consider the experiences of others. You can,” Stewart says. Research shows that breathing exercises can also boost your mood, improve focus, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Breathing exercises for beginners and beginners
Fortunately, breathing exercises tend to be simple and easy to learn. “For me, the quickest and easiest breathwork practice is the one I can do on the fly, anytime, anywhere,” says Stewart. “When you find yourself in a moment of tension, stopping and breathing provides instant relief and allows your body and mind to switch gears on the fly.”
This one large inhalation and exhalation brings us back to the right moment and gives us the opportunity to seriously think about what we want and need to do next. “Every time we do this, we begin to habituate this very simple and effective act. It’s a way of connecting us with our nervous system and freeing us from a more reactive mode. , it allows you to calm down in a more balanced and broader way of relating,” says Stewart.
Below, Stewart shares three basic breathing exercises you should have in your back pocket (beyond one deep breathing exercise).
“This exercise is called box breathing or square breathing because you’re basically creating a square with your breath by inhaling, holding, exhaling, and holding for a count of four each time.” Stewart says. “This breathing is especially helpful when we find ourselves stuck in destructive thoughts. It interrupts that pattern, redirects our attention, and allows us to breathe deeply and slowly. It helps you stay focused.” Here are her instructions for box breathing:
- Find a comfortable sitting position that keeps your spine straight. Keep your muscles relaxed. You can close your eyes or focus less if you want. Start by calming your body and allowing your breathing to occur naturally.
- Inhale first, inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, then inhale the next breath.
- Repeat this cycle a few more times to find your breathing rhythm.
- Inhale for 4 seconds, hold, exhale, hold.
- Eventually you may stop counting and just notice each step of your breathing.
- Then let go of box breathing and return to natural breathing again.
- Take a moment to notice your feelings.
- This exercise can be done lying down or sitting upright. Relax your muscles and close your eyes when you feel comfortable. You begin to feel the natural rhythm of your breathing coming and going. You can begin to cycle your breath very deliberately, imagining that you can breathe into different parts of your whole body.
- Start by breathing into all the muscles of your face. Imagine being able to activate these muscles with your breath.
- Keep this breath moving, moving down to your neck and shoulders. Feel as if this breathing begins to wake up your body.
- Continue this breathing to your arms, hands, and fingertips.
- Move your breath through your torso and awaken the sensations throughout your chest, abdomen, and back. Allow your breath to move up and down your back.
- Breathe down to your hips and extend this breath to your thighs, lower legs, feet, and toes.
- Continue breathing and notice where your breath begins to flow naturally.
Stewart recommends noticing how things have changed after you practice. Do you feel more in tune with certain parts of your body? Do you feel more awake? More grounded?
“This breathing technique can be done sitting upright or lying down, so feel free to find the position that works best for you,” says Stewart. “This exercise guides you to breathe intentionally, moving from short, rapid breaths to diaphragmatic breathing, which helps oxygenate and nourish your entire body.”
- Start by paying attention to your current state of breathing without changing anything. Notice your normal breathing at this moment.
- From here, take a deep breath and begin to exhale, making sure that your breathing is smooth and not strained.
- As you continue to inhale deeply through your nose and exhale, feel as if you can inhale the next breath into your belly, filling it with air. Then, as you exhale, release this air, completely emptying your abdomen and drawing the navy into your spine. Continue breathing through your abdomen for the next few cycles to keep your breath comfortable and even.
- Abdominal breathing can be considered a part of breathing. Now, let’s add part 2.
- Breathe into your belly as before. Now, when your stomach is full, take in some more air and expand your ribcage with this breath. As you exhale, remove air first from your ribcage, then from your abdomen until it is empty. Repeat these two stages of breathing for several cycles: abdominal breathing, thoracic breathing, then thoracic breathing, and then abdominal breathing.
- The next time you breathe in, breathe into your stomach. Expand your ribcage and breathe in just a little more air, filling your upper chest up to your collarbone. This third part of her can make your chest heave a little higher when you think about it breathing into your heart. As you exhale, lower your chest back to release your ribs and empty your stomach. Practice doing all three of her parts: abdomen, ribs, and chest, then do a few chest, rib, and abdominal release cycles in your own time.
- Breathe in a way that feels easy and simple, completely freeing you from this practice.
- Pay attention to how you feel. After taking a few moments to take a deep breath, notice how your body and mind feel.
Breathing techniques can be a gateway to meditation
Breathing techniques are central to most meditation practices. If you want to further strengthen the breathing foundation you’re building, try guided meditation. Below is an intention-setting meditation from breathwork therapist Christina Joy.