The art of breath

Our breathe is as unique as our fingerprint.  We all have established patterns of breathing that have developed over the course of our lifetimes.  Breathing is the only function in our body that is completely automatic and also completely in our control. 

Did you know simply adjusting your breathing can increase your energy, bring mental clarity, increase your endurance, help you sleep better and impact your mood?  Science shows us that changing our breathing patterns in certain ways can even do more than this.  Crazy, eh?

We breathe somewhere between 17,000 and 29,000 times per day completely subconsciously.  Most of us (especially me) end up breathing super shallowly…AKA hyperventilation.  Mostly because we live in continual go-go mode.  This habit of shallow breathing throws us into a cycle of depletion, since the less oxygen our cells get the lower our energy drops.  It’s a catch-22 we gotta kick ourselves out of.  Honestly, most of the time I notice that I’ve been hyperventilating at the end of the day when I’m trying to relax myself to sleep.

If you ever stop to watch a baby or toddler breathe, you've probably noticed how open and flowing their breathing is.  That rhythmic belly breathing is relaxing to watch.

Here’s another tidbit… when we breathe deeply, oxygenating our whole selves, it shows up on our skin with a brighter glow.  That boost in oxygenation helps nourish our skin cells and channels out yucky stuff via the bloodstream. 

Oxygen is essential for vibrant skin.

Do a quick test right now…sit up straight and place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen.  Breathe in deeply.  Your abdomen (the lower part of your torso) should be moving and expanding.  If your chest is rising or you find yourself straining to breathe deeply, you’re sending a message of stress to your body.  Chest breathing triggers the fight-or-flight stress response, contributing to neck tension and discomfort.  Breathing into your abdomen tells your body that it’s okay to relax.  In this state your body is energized and your mind more clear.

The science of breathing is pretty fascinating.  There’s multiple types of breathwork, including:

  • Everyday breathwork which helps us change our state from stressed to calm.
  • Corrective breathwork used to improve breathing habits.
  • Performance breathwork which is used to perform better athletically.
  • Mind-body breathworks which focuses on improving mental and emotional health.
  • Integrative breathwork which is used therapeutically for various health conditions.

While we can dive pretty deep into breathing (it’d be a thick read – there’s lots of books and research reports out there on it) – let’s just focus on two breath techniques you can use right now.  These are from the book Exhale by Richie Bostock.

Before doing either of these, notice how you feel.

This breath technique energizes since it’s incredibly stimulating:

  1. Sit or stand.
  2. Exhale in a relaxed manner.
  3. Take 3 quick powerful (equal length) inhales through your nose (no exhales right now), progressively filling up your lungs more and more.
  4. Exhale with a big sigh through your mouth.
  5. That’s one breath cycle. Try to get 36 breaths cycles per minutes, so each breath takes a little under 2 seconds (it’s very fast).
  6. Repeat for 45-60 seconds.

Note:  If you feel light-headed or dizzy, that should go away quickly.

Now here’s a calming technique:

  1. Do this sitting or laying.
  2. Inhale to the count of 4 through your nose.
  3. Exhale to the count of 8 through pursed lips.
  4. That’s one cycle.
  5. Repeat at least 15 times. If 8 seconds feels too long, drop it down to inhale for 3, exhale for 6.  Then work up to in for 4, out for 8.

Now tune into how you feel.  Did anything change?

Remember simple deep breathing can have an impact on your mood and energy any moment of each day.  It’s simple and can be done anywhere, anytime!

 

Hanna is a mom of busy children, is completing her Diploma is Organic Skincare Formulation and is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Hanna's love of natural skincare began with her own journey of struggle and angst with skin issues. Finally, after finding no solutions she rolled up her sleeves and spent half a decade researching ingredients and formulas until....finally...something actually worked. Most of her time is spend trying to keep up with the kids, folding something like 99 loads of laundry a day, and making sure nobody starves (they seem to do that 30 minutes after meal time). But when she's got a spare minute she loves helping other women achieve radiance, naturally!

 

A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The contents of this email and website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.  I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to have that level of knowledge.  These posts are intended for basic informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice of any sort. 

July 28, 2021 — Hanna Hendrickson

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