WHY YOU NEED TO LEARN BREATHWORK
Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Did you know that you can improve reduce stress, anxiety and a nervous tummy just by learning to breathe properly?
When we're feeling anxious, we tend to breathe shallow breaths through our chest, which disrupts the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our systems, and causes dizziness and increased heart rate. Your body isn't getting adequate oxygen and this causes a stress response. By contrast, when you learn to breathe through your abdomen, your whole system is able to relax.
Proper digestion is also reliant on an optimal state of being. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the 'rest and digest' mode that your body needs to process your food, digest, elevate, heal and build immunity. When we are stressed, we go into fight or flight mode and produce cortisol and other stress hormones which take away from these essential life building processes.
Chronic stress and living in a constant state of adrenaline is not good for anyone, and we're big proponents of the power of the breath, having learnt from Yin Yoga teacher and Life Coach Rachel Fearnley how to practice different types of meditative breathing, including 'belly breathing.' Check out her free breathing meditations on Insight Timer.
We've also learned 'four fold breathing' or 'square breathing' from our meditation teacher Dani Van de Velds, whose meditation courses we highly recommend. Four fold breathing combines breath retention and visualisation and is deeply transformative. Pranayama Yoga technique known as Sama-Vritti. It actually means “Equal Breathing.The idea is you visualise yourself drawing a square.
How to do Belly Breathing
1. Lie on your back with your legs bent. Place one hand on your chest, and one hand on your belly, just bellow your rib cage.
2. Take a deep breath in through your nose, the hand on your chest should remain still, whilst the one on your belly should rise.
3. Exhale through pursed lips as you watch your belly fall.
4. Continue for at least 5-10 minutes
Once you have mastered belly breathing, you can move on to Four Fold breathing.
How to do Four Fold Breathing
Photo Credit: Bill Leavitt
1. Inhale for four counts, visualising energy rising and drawing the first line of the square from the group up, in your mind's eye.
2. Hold for four counts as the line of energy goes to the right.
3. Breathe out for four counts, 'whooshing' the energy in a white line down to the earth.
4. Complete the square by holding the breath for four counts as you close the shape with the fourth line.
5. Start again, and continue for at least 10 minutes.
You'll be surprised at how incredibly effective breath work can be, and how quickly it resolves tension and stress.