Your breath is the most beneficial restorative tool accessible to you at any time.
As newborns, we enter the world by receiving – inhaling. Through dying, we surrender – exhale. Breathing is central to life, not only for survival but to the functioning of the body and mind. Breathing plays a vital role in influencing our well-being.
We breathe 26,000 breaths per day, each inhale and exhale, connecting to every function and organ. Breathing activates our nervous system, changes the endocrine system and impacts brain function. All of which affect digestion, sleep patterns, and our bodies’ opportunity to heal.
Our breath patterns are created through the nature of our own life experience. Breathwork allows us to course-correct and tackle the symptoms we have developed, unveiling areas in our body where there may be a lack of freedom, integration and surrender.
Neuroplasticity expert Dr. Norman Doidge (The Brain’s Way of Healing) discusses how our nervous system, brain and body are malleable to our external influences. As our power of thought changes, our breath pattern alters to reflect our emotional state.
Ultimately how we breathe is how we think.
When we allow the breath to find balance, our body responds by:
- Balancing the nervous system
- Reducing stress levels
- Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
- Reducing depression
- Easing chronic pain
- Regulating the body’s reaction to stress and fatigue
There are various forms of breathwork, all of which can stimulate or restore your nervous system. Ultimately, our relationship with our breath should be about balance, not achievement.
Here’s how to raise your level of awareness of your breath within your everyday routine.
Play – Mindful breathing
This technique requires no effort in changing the way you breathe. However, the act of focusing on the breath naturally slows down your breathing.
- Become aware of your breathing pattern.
- As you focus on how air moves in and out of your nose and lungs, notice where there’s the capacity to feel fuller with breath and where there may be areas of limitation.
- For a fuller breath, continue to encourage presence, noticing the ‘here and now.’
Work – Belly Breath
Create further awareness of your breathing pattern through your abdomen’s physical movement as you inhale and exhale.
- Place one hand on your stomach and inhale slowly through the nose (notice the abdomen rising). As you exhale, contract the abdomen muscles and push the air out of your lungs. Be mindful to ensure you encourage a deep and slow inhale.
- Consciously breathing fully into the belly and the chest helps massage organs, creating a physical and emotional detox effect.
Sleep – 4, 7, 8 Method
Encourage relaxation as you fall asleep by gaining control over your breath.
- Begin by inhaling to the count of four, holding your breath to the count of seven, followed by exhaling to the count of eight. Repeat as needed.
- This technique activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to reduce agitation and anxiety.
Stress is Inevitable – How We Respond to Stress is Critical
Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., a cell biologist and internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit with his studies of epigenetics, summarized in The Biology of Belief how can rewire our own systems through conscious breathing.
The Sympathetic Nervous system, our bodies’ gas pedal’ is directly related to our adrenal glands and adrenaline responses. Connected to our inhale, our fight or flight response generates from within this branch of the autonomic nervous system.
The Parasympathetic Nervous system, our body’s ‘brake pedal,’ signals through our exhale to rest and digest. It controls the body’s functions to conserve energy as it slows heart rate and activates our healing state.
The relative balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic is how our body achieves homeostasis on the physical level, reflecting our mental and emotional well-being.
When overly sympathetic, we become activated, high energy and prone to over-efforting without time to find stillness, rest and repair.
When we shift into a parasympathetic state, our capacity and resilience increases. We are then less likely to be triggered with a reaction and instead can remain a witness to emotions or experiences.
It’s Time. Reconnect with Your Breath
Connecting with our breath supports the body in resourcing its innate healing abilities. It is your own medicine.
When we operate from a place of balance and ease, it reflects outward into our external environment, strengthening relationships with those around us and honouring the support of our beautiful well-being.
Deep breath in…slow breath out, wellness warriors.