Breathwork 101 - different techniques and benefits

Breathwork 101

Breath is something that we take entirely for granted. It is an autonomic biological process that most of the time we don’t focus on – why would we when we don’t need to? Breath can do far more than simply oxygenate the bloodstream. It can be an incredibly powerful tool for healing and easing physical pain as well as depression, anxiety and grief. Breath regulation is part of the reason why yoga and meditation are so effective – they are, at their core, just different ways to facilitate breathwork.

Breathwork is defined as “any type of breathing practice or breathing exercise therapy to improve mental, physical and spiritual health.” It is done by making a conscious effort to change your breathing pattern. Considering the fact that our breaths often become short and shallow when in distress, it’s easy to see how this would be incredibly beneficial.

Here are some helpful breathwork techniques to get you started:

Box Breathing

This is an especially effective practice for anxiety or to prevent an oncoming panic attack. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose for four counts. Focus on the feeling of air filling your lungs. Hold your breath for 4 counts without closing off your airways. Exhale for 4 counts, then hold for another 4 counts before repeating the process as many times as you need.

Skull Shining Breath

Sit in a comfortable posture and place your hands on your belly. Take one deep inhale and exhale. Inhale until your lungs are about ¾ of the way filled, then quickly expel all the air in a forceful exhale using your diaphragm and drawing your navel into your spine. Let your lungs fill naturally on your inhale, then repeat the process.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Place your left palm in your lap and bring your right pointer and middle fingers to the space between your eyebrows. Take a cleansing breath in and out. Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril. Close your left nostril with your ring finger so that both nostrils are closed and hold briefly at the top of your breath. Release your right nostril and exhale. Inhale through the right nostril and repeat the process.

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