Trending in the health world today, and happily so, is mindfulness. A sought after mental state that is achieved by being aware of the present moment and conscious of one’s state of being.
A driving force to reach this mindful state? Breath Work. While the practice of controlled breathing is nothing new, the fact that it is so often suggested and attested to should be have all the light bulbs going off!
Take this as your sign to finally give breath work a try, or to delve deeper into your practice.
While breath work is a big subject, the beauty and simplicity is that your practice can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to practice it at home or even at work!
Whether you use it to cope with stress or in your workouts, breath work helps to reduce anxiety, calm your body and improve concentration. You are literally exercising our mind and body at the same time!
"It's okay if the only thing you did today was breathe"
Benefits of Deep Breathing
If you are not breathing the right way, toxins in your body will not get released properly. In fact, 70% of toxins are released by simply breathing the right way.
Your breathing patterns change during different situations such as stress or fear. Breath slowly, deeply, and purposefully to release tension and relax.
Ease your pain by breathing in deeply. Holding your breath will only allow you to feel the pain.
Clear out negative feelings with a deep breath to relieve your emotional distress. Doing so will also elevate your mood as breathing increases pleasure-inducing chemicals in your body.
By breathing deeply, you are releasing Carbon Dioxide from your body and taking in Oxygen. This improves blood quality.
The overall goal of breath work is to help support people in achieving a sense of awareness and ability to partake in self-healing. The practice works towards mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
People experiencing the following might truly benefit from this practice:
- chronic pain
- anger issues
- grief or loss
Using Breath Work to Induce an Altered State
Everyone breathes, so it is natural to use this gift for meditation and spiritual advancement. In fact, you can enter an altered state of consciousness from simply controlling your breathing.
Start by simply closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing: in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will start giving you an inward focus.
Now take in a slower breath, making it longer and deeper. And let it out slowly as well.
By breathing slowly, you are taking in more air and creating more space for focus.
While your thoughts might at first be jumbled, continue to breath deeply and erase these thoughts through your breath.
Try to find a point of consciousness to focus on, or even a nice colour or image.
Practice this for 5-10 minutes a day to start out. You can even add relaxing music to add to your experience. Practice will increase your mental ability and meditative state!
Good to Read: Self-Care the Right Way: Stress Free
To intensify your state, play with your breath. Try breathing deeper and faster through what Yogis call the Breath of Fire. As soon as you breath out, take in another breath.
See how long you can maintain this pattern, starting at 10-15 minutes and working your way up. You will feel the increased oxygen intake creating energy within your body.
When you are finished with your exercise, open your eyes and enjoy your increased awareness and clarity.
This is known as one of the most effective breathing techniques for keeping stress levels down. Practicing for only 10 minutes daily has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately.
Sit straight on the floor and place your hands on your chest and abdomen.
Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth while paying attention to how your abdomen rises but your chest not as much
Try to take in as much air as possible with each inhale to maximize your oxygen intake
Count slowly as you breathe out
This is wonderful breath work to practice each night before going to bed. It clears your mind of racing thoughts, calming it for a good night’s sleep.
Sit comfortably keeping your spine straight
Breath in and out through your nose while counting 1-4 each time. You can increase your count as you become more practiced
This equal breathing count resists your natural breathing, soothing the nervous systems and enhancing focus
This breath work will relax you from head to foot.
Sit on the floor with your spine nice and straight and eyes closed
Breath slowly and deeply in and out through your nose
Start with your toes/feet by tensing the muscles there while you inhale and hold the breath for a count of five
Relax your muscles as you release your breath
Move up your body tensing and relaxing your various muscles while inhaling and exhaling
"Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unties your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh
While practicing your breath work, throw some Acupressure into the mix!
Locate the Shen Men Acupressure point on the upper half of your ear in the groove above your antihelix. Lightly apply pressure with your thumb and pointer finger as if you are pinching the point on each ear. Breathe deeply and hold position for 1-3 minutes.
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