How You May Benefit from Taking a Moment to Breathe
Most of us have probably experienced this before, a moment of stress where a friend or acquaintance tells us to calm down and breathe. Depending on our emotional state this might be calming, but it might also be infuriating. When our mind is racing and the world feels overwhelming, being told to breathe might feel like we are bypassing the bigger issue or oversimplifying our response to a trigger. However, the reality is, without breath we wouldn’t even be here to worry. Since breathing is a part of our autonomic nervous system, we often don’t give it any thought or focus at all. But, did you know that breathing can be used to very intentionally guide our emotional and mental state? Additionally, intentional breathwork supports our health and energizes our bodies in just a short amount of time.
What is breathwork?
Breathwork is generally accepted as any type of intentional, controlled breathing exercise. There are a variety of popular techniques available for you to try to determine what works best for you and your needs. Mental health professionals often recommend breathing techniques as a means of stress management.
Why is breathwork helpful?
When stress and anxiety occupy our minds, our bodies respond in ways that we don’t always immediately detect. Our shoulders may tense, our breathing becomes more shallow, and our heart rate may increase along with various other effects. Breathing techniques allow us to disrupt the cycle of stress that builds in our body, feeds anxiety, and wreaks havoc on our nervous system. Breathwork is a tool that can be used nearly anywhere and even discreetly if needed.
What styles of breathing are best?
There are several popular types of breathing, here are a few examples:
1. Box Breathing
2. Alternate Nostril Breathing
3. Belly Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing
4. Resonant Breathing
5. Lion’s Breath
Ultimately, it’s most important to find a style of breathing that works for you and your lifestyle. There are benefits to each type of breathing technique but as with many things, the most effective of them all is the one that you can stick with and consistently utilize.
Challenge yourself this week to try a breathing practice for 3-5 minutes a day. You’ll be surprised at how just a few minutes of intentional breathing can bring peace to your body and mind.