Breath is life. Every breath we take reaffirms our existence in this world. It cleanses our body, and is a constant rhythm and way to focus. Our breath is the one tool we always have with us. We never need to remember to pack it, but we do need to remember the gift it provides us with. Our breath can heal, calm, recenter, focus and invigorate us.
There are many ways our breath supports us outside of keeping us alive. Consciously becoming aware of your breathing and having a set of breathwork techniques can help you deal with any situation more clearly. Many people simply breathe without thinking, and don’t really notice the quality of their breathing. Often, it is only when one begins yoga or other practices that include conscious breathing, that one notices how shallow one’s breathing tends to be.
When you are dealing with a difficult situation, using your breath can allow you to pause, take a step back, and evaluate what you want to say. When you are feeling stressed, using a breathing technique calms the nervous system, allowing you to come back to center. Deep breathing can help hone your focus when working.
Using your breath:
This technique helps with anxiety and requires focus. Inhale and hold, then exhale and hold for equal counts.
Inhale through your nose, and as you exhale through your nose, hum in the back your throat, making the sound of a bumble bee. This is a great stress release tool and calms the mind and body.
Alternate nostril breathing:
Take the second and third finger of your right hand to the third eye, thumb to the right nostril, and ring finger to the left nostril. Close the left nostril, release the thumb and inhale through the right nostril. Close the right nostril, exhale through the left nostril. Now inhale left, exhale right. Inhale right, exhale left. Repeat this pattern for a minute. Switch hands and do it again. This technique is wonderful for opening your sinuses and supporting your physical body. The act of focusing on your breathing causes you to center yourself.
Inhale for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7 and exhale for a count of 8. Repeat this for as long as it feels comfortable. This technique helps to reduce anxiety, calm the body and mind, and helps with sleep.
Breath of Fire:
This technique is used in Kundalini yoga. With breath of fire, inhale gently and exhale forcefully – the goal being for the inhale and exhale to be equal in length. Focus on the core as you do this. This is a great way to strengthen your abdominal muscles and release stress. It takes concentration to achieve synchronization with this breathing technique – you cannot focus on anything else.
You can use your breath to calm your body and bring your heartbeat back to normal if you find your heart racing, or to awaken your mind if you are feeling sluggish. Breathing is a great way to get into meditation – if you struggle to move into a meditative state, focusing on your breathing while deepening each breath, shifts you into a meditative state more easily.
There are many more breathwork techniques, and if you are in tune with your body, you may find your body directing you towards the breathing technique you need. Experience the different techniques, becoming familiar with them, so you are able to choose the one you need at any moment.