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THE POWER OF BREATH: 3 TECHNIQUES TO MASTER NOW

by Mar 18, 2021

Every cell in our body needs oxygen to function. Our breathing patterns affect our behaviors. Learn the role of deep breathing to calm the nervous system, promote emotional and physical health, improve your wellbeing, boost creativity, and much more.

“Breathe, just breathe.” – Anna Nalick 

Breathing is the key to surviving and being healthy! Every cell in our body needs oxygen to function. We get the oxygen our cells need from the air we breathe. Most humans can live up to three weeks without food, three days without water, but only three minutes without oxygen. Oxygen revitalizes us, resets our mind, body, and spirit, and allows us to feel better.

Breathing happens on autopilot, so why bother thinking about it and working to improve it?

Well, because every cell in our body needs oxygen in order to do its job. The better we breathe, the better job our cells will do. Breathing helps reduce stress and anxiety, calm our nervous system by activating the body’s relaxation response, alleviate physical pain and migraine, helps our respiratory system to work more efficiently, as well as our digestive system, improve our mood and metabolism, increase our focus, and so much more!

The best part: breathing is free, location independent (unless you are underwater), and improvement is super easy to implement. We just need to learn how to consciously and intentionally work our breath to bypass the mind and enter a state of physical awareness that will allow for more clarity, creativity, joy, peace, and positive results.

Intentional breathing is a big part of my work, learning to control ourselves starts by learning to control our breath.

I love what I do, and whether I’m helping a client, my children, or a friend, it absolutely makes my day when someone tells me that my practices have helped them improve their communication and wellbeing.

A dear friend of mine was able to put this practice to the test during a very stressful situation: a mediation session (a naturally highly emotional event). She excitedly texted me, 10 minutes prior to the mediation, to say that she was “breathing and meditating” in preparation for her mediation session.

* read “breathing and meditating” instead of bragging and meditating

When I asked her later about the mediation, she said: “It was better than I expected. A couple of times when I felt my heart starting to race, I would just focus on my breathing and I would say “breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I relax. And it worked, I felt calmer and able to speak without being too emotional. I was able to listen to them and speak up and feel heard. All without being emotional and losing control.”. The kicker was hearing her telling other friends that this breathing practice really works!

How is this possible? How can we change our heartbeats by simply breathing?

Well, there is a direct connection between breath rate, mood state, and our nervous system. The nervous system governs the body’s sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-relax) responses, dialing functions like heart rate, respiration, and digestion up or down as necessary in response to potential threats.

Our breath changes in response to our emotions. When we feel threatened, fearful, or angry, for instance, our breathing becomes faster, our heart beats faster, our digestion stops, our cognitive functions shut down, and we have a lot of blood flow into our limbs as we enter into the “fight-flight-or-freeze mode”.

Slowing our breathing, on the other hand,  triggers our parasympathetic response evoking rest and relaxation in the body. When we breathe deeply, the air coming in through our nose fully fills our lungs, the lower belly rises increasing focus on our digestion, our heartbeat slows down, our blood pressure stabilizes, our breathing becomes longer and calmer, our limbs become heavier and relaxed, and our learning center activates becoming sharper and clearer and our body becomes relaxed and calm.

“Our breath changes in response to our emotions.”

As we breathe we become more aware of our thoughts, emotions, and memories. It activates our prefrontal cortex, enhancing our cognitive abilities. We become more aware, focused, and creative. We disconnect from the hamster wheel of thoughts in the mind and reconnect with our body and energy. This process allows for our emotional regulation.

Breathwork is very supportive for stress, tension, overwhelm, anxiety, depression, fear, grief, sadness, anger, trauma, insomnia, etc. Breathwork is just as nourishing for someone who is doing well and ready to experience love, peace, gratitude, clarity, connection, and insights.

Anyone can benefit from breathwork, including children. We can make your practice as long, or as short, as we need to. From 1 minute to several minutes, we will always reap the benefits of breathing.

3 easy types of breathing to start practicing now

Following are three easy, simple and powerful breathing techniques. If you aim to practice daily, you will create muscle memory and see immediate and automatic results. Practice anywhere between 3 to 10 minutes to get started. Increasing that time with practice. The more you breathe, the healthier and happier you become. 

1. Box breathing

Box breathing or Count to four breathing is a powerful, yet simple, relaxation technique that aims to return breathing to its normal rhythm. It helps clear the mind, relax the body, and improve focus. It is a simple technique that you can do anywhere,  including at a work desk or in a cafe.

Here are the steps:

1. Close your eyes.
2. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your nostrils and your lungs.
3. Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut.
4. Begin to slowly exhale for a count of 4. Feel the lungs deflating.
5. Hold the exhale for a count of four.

Repeat steps at least three times. Aim to practice it daily to develop muscle memory and become more aware of your body.

2. 4-4-8 breathing

4-4-8 breathing also called Triangle Breathing is a technique that uses external breath retention. It helps if you imagine each breath cycle as a triangle: inhale-hold-exhale. The power lies in the longer exhalation which has been shown to send the body into a more parasympathetic state, lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels.

How to do it:

1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
2. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly.
3. Hold your breath inside while counting to four slowly.
4. Exhale while slowly counting to 8. Feel the lungs deflating.

Repeat steps at least three times. Aim to practice it daily to develop muscle memory and become more aware of your body.

3. Mantra breathing

One of my favorite breathwork and one that works really well for me, my children, and everyone I share this practice with – this is the one my friend used when she most needed it during her mediation session. It works because a mantra replaces our painful thoughts with positive, and focused ones.

Using positive affirmations, matched with each inhale and exhale, is a great way to build confidence, love, patience, strength, courage, empathy, understanding, whatever we need at the time. Our focus here is matching the phrases with the breathing.

How to do it:

1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
2. Inhale through your nose while mentally reciting the first part of the affirmation.
3. Exhale while reciting the second part of the affirmation.

Suggestions for affirmations:

(inhale)Breathing in I calm my body. (exhale) Breathing out I relax.

Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out I smile.
Here. Now.
I am happy. I am at peace.
I am happy. I am compassionate.
I am happy. I am accepting.
I am happy. I am enough.

There are many, many breathing techniques out there. The idea is to get started, find the one you like the most and keep on practicing until it becomes second nature. Then learn and another type. The more we practice, the more in control of our mind and body we become. The healthier and happier we become.

So start now, and the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, you will be able to master your thoughts and control your emotions by simply breathing. And let me know which practice you like the most.

Focusing on what matters most, let’s improve our communication and transform our interactions one conversation at a time.

FREE BREATHWORK PDF GUIDE

Easy to follow instructions to implement and master 3 types of highly effective breathwork. Flood your cells with oxygen while calming your nervous system, reducing anxiety and stress, improving mood and boosting your overall wellbeing.

FREE DOWNLOAD 

With love and gratitude,

Miriam

 

 

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