How to Harness Your Breath: 3 Breathing Techniques to Calm Your Body and Mind
Finding moments of tranquillity and inner peace can sometimes feel like a daunting task. The pressures of work, relationships, and daily responsibilities often leave us feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from ourselves. Thankfully, breathing techniques are a powerful tool — readily available to us at all times — that can help restore balance, reduce stress, and promote well-being.
In this video, we delve into the world of breathwork and explore three highly effective breathing techniques that have the potential to calm your body and mind, bringing you a sense of deep relaxation and serenity. These techniques are often underrated but are incredibly powerful. They’re also extremely versatile and can be practised in moments of heightened stress or as a regular part of your self-care routine.
Important note: breathwork is not a substitute for professional help and if you or someone you know is experiencing a moment of crisis, please reach out to one of the following 24/7 helplines:
– Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
– Lifeline: 13 11 14
– Open Arms: 1800-011-046
VIDEO: Psychologist Demonstrates 3 Breathing Techniques
For best viewing, click on the video below and watch in full screen. Alternatively, you can watch the video on Facebook here.
Why is Breathwork So Good For You?
You might be surprised to know that breathing — something you do all day long without even a thought — can also be a practical and effective tool for managing stress, improving mental well-being, and promoting a sense of balance and resilience in daily life. When practised with intentionality, conscious breathing can be a mental health game-changer. Below are just a few ways breathwork is beneficial.
1. Breathwork Can Activate Our Relaxation Response
Conscious breathing techniques help activate the parasympathetic nervous system (aka our body’s relaxation response), which counters the physiological effects of stress. Deep, slow breathing stimulates our ‘rest and restore’ response, promoting relaxation, reducing our heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the production of stress hormones like cortisol.
2. Breathwork Enhances Our Mind-Body Connection
The breath serves as a bridge between your mind and body. By intentionally focusing on the breath, you can redirect your attention away from racing thoughts and worries, bringing your awareness to the present moment. This helps to calm the mind and cultivate a sense of inner stillness and tranquillity.
3. Breathwork Helps to Regulate Your Emotional State
Different breathing techniques can activate specific physiological responses, such as increased energy or relaxation. For example, slow, deep breathing (like the ones in the above video) promotes a sense of calm and balance, while faster, more energised breathing techniques (such as yogic kapalabhati breathing) can increase alertness and vitality.
4. Breathwork Can Increase Oxygenation and Facilitate Detoxification
When your breath is deeper, you also intake more oxygen into the body, improving the oxygenation of tissues and organs. This can enhance your overall physical well-being, boost energy levels, and support cognitive function. Deep breathing, particularly deep exhales, promotes the elimination of carbon dioxide and toxins from the body, aiding in detoxification.
5. Breathwork Can Boost Your Self-Awareness
Practising breathwork cultivates a heightened sense of self-awareness. By paying attention to the breath, you can become more attuned to your body, your emotions, and your thought patterns. This increased self-awareness can help you recognise signs of stress or tension earlier, allowing you to intervene and take proactive steps to manage them effectively.
6. Breathwork is Accessible and Portable
One of the advantages of breathwork is its accessibility and portability. You can practise it anytime and anywhere and don’t require any special equipment. Whether you’re at home, at work, in a stressful situation or developing a daily mindfulness routine, you can utilise breathwork techniques to regain a sense of calm and control.
3 Breathing Techniques You Can Try Today
The following breathing techniques are demonstrated in the above video recorded by psychologist Jessica. From deep belly breathing to box breathing and the 4-7-8 technique, each example of breathwork serves as a valuable tool for calming the mind and body, promoting relaxation, and improving overall well-being.
Deep Belly Breathing (Diaphragmatic Breathing)
Deep belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is a breathwork technique that focuses on slow, intentional breaths and activates the body’s relaxation response. It is soothing to the nervous system and can help to foster a sense of inner calm.
- Find a comfortable seated position or lie down.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
- Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to rise as you fill your lungs with air.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, letting your belly deflate as you release the breath.
- Focus on the sensation of your breath and repeat for several cycles, aiming for a slower pace.
Box Breathing (Four-Square Breathing)
Box breathing, also known as four-square breathing, is a versatile technique that has been utilised by various cultures and disciplines for centuries. It’s a technique favoured by Navy Seals and can be completed in just five minutes. By following a simple pattern of inhalation, holding the breath, exhalation, and another pause, you can bring harmony to your mind and body, even in highly stressful moments.
- Sit in a comfortable position and keep your spine straight.
- Inhale deeply through your nose to a count of four, allowing your abdomen to rise.
- Hold your breath for a count of four.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of four, emptying your lungs completely.
- Hold your breath for a count of four before starting the next cycle.
- Repeat this pattern for a few minutes, adjusting the count to a comfortable pace.
4-7-8 Breathing (Relaxing Breath)
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a deeply relaxing practice that combines specific breath counts to create a profound sense of calmness and inner peace. Learn how to synchronise your breath with this technique to release tension, reduce anxiety, and foster a greater sense of well-being.
- Find a quiet place to sit or lie down.
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth to a count of eight, making a whoosh sound.
- This completes one breath. Inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times.
By incorporating these three breathing techniques into your life, you can tap into the power of your breath to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and reconnect with yourself on a deeper level. Whether you’re seeking immediate relief from a stressful situation or looking to establish a sustainable self-care practice, breathwork offers a versatile and accessible solution.
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