The Power of Breath
Breathing is something we do all day often without noticing or giving it any thought. What many of us don’t realize is the power our breath has when we do focus on it. Have you ever noticed what happens when you are having a rough day? We often find ourselves sighing during high stress times as a way for the body to relieve tension. Read more to learn how you can take control of the power of your breath to relieve your daily stressors and improve your overall wellness.
Benefits of Deep Breathing
Stress is experienced by everyone. Chronic stress is considered a national epidemic that can result in health problems such as heart disease and digestive issues. While a small amount of stress can be helpful for things like making a deadline or avoiding danger, too much stress can leave people with feelings of physical and emotional tension. This tension builds up in our body, throughout our lifetime, causing increased heart rate, fast breathing and high blood pressure, all of which are mechanisms the body employs as a response to daily traumas and triggers. These responses can improve by using the power of breath to relax and release this tension. Deep breathing sends a message to the brain to relax, which in turn tells the body to decrease the stress responses. In short, breathing retrains our nervous system’s response to triggers and allows us to step back so we can proceed with positivity. Some other known benefits of regular deep breathing include:
Boosted immune system
Maintained and improved lung health
Increased energy levels
How to Harness the Power of Your Breath
Make Time in your Daily Routine. Breathing exercises are quick, requiring only a few seconds to a couple minutes out of your day to reap the benefits. Plan time throughout your day to take a break and breathe deeply. And of course, take a moment to breathe deeply in between these set times as necessary.
Practice Anywhere and Everywhere. Breathwork is simple to learn and there is no equipment or tools necessary. You can practice in the car, in the shower, at work, and even in the midst of a busy crowd. Whenever you feel like you need to take a deep breath, take it!
Choose from a Variety of Exercises. Certain breathing exercises will appeal to different people. Take the time to learn different techniques or stick with one you love. To get started, find and try guides for breathwork. There are a plethora of resources online via google search, YouTube, and your App Store that provide information and guides for breathing exercises.
This list of 10 Breathing Techniques gives detailed explanation and instructions on an array of different breathing techniques. Explore the list and try new methods as they appeal to you.
Belly breathing is one of the most common types of deep breathing and is a great place to start. This technique is helpful for relieving stress and overall relaxation.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a more structured technique that helps relax and reduce anxiety. This type of breathwork is commonly used to help people fall asleep or diffuse high emotions.
The Wim Hof Method Breathing site outlines the physiological reasons why we should breathe, gives detailed written instructions on his power breathing method, and provides a guided breathing video that serves as an audiovisual guide. This is a simple guide that should be followed on an empty stomach (before a meal or after waking up).
You can practice breathwork at anytime and anywhere! You can choose to experiment with different techniques and the resources available are endless. Use the power of breath to rejuvenate your body multiple times a day or a few times a week. You will notice the benefits after just one session.
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Written by: Laura Hetherington, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern