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Breathwork, your body & your brain.

It’s difficult to know what to say to someone who tells you you’re breathing wrong, I mean you’ve managed to get this far. For most of us, unless we’re underwater, breathing is just something that kinda happens. Thing is, and this is a hard one to swallow, it’s probably true…you’re probably breathing wrong!

 

What would you say if I told you that you could relieve stress, improve sleep, improve mental health, boost immune function and get a whole other heap of benefits by taking a few minutes a day to look at HOW you breathe?

 

It’s not just cross-legged monks at the top of Tibetan mountains that have been practicing this skill; Breathwork has been going on for thousands of years in various sub-cultures across the world but it’s really in the last few years with shirtless Scandinavians leading the way that we’re seeing a resurgence in breathwork for us less enlightened souls.

 

Breathwork is increasingly being recognised as a powerful tool for relieving stress and improving mental health so let's explore the benefits and then look at a few simple exercises that you can do at home.

 

Relieving stress

Your half-cut at the pub squinting to see the guest ales at the bar then suddenly, “Oi what are you looking at!”...and that’s when our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and that pesky "fight or flight" response isn’t far behind. This response leads to physical and emotional symptoms: increased heart rate, shallow breathing, feeling anxious and, unless your Begbie from Trainspotting, a sudden wish you were somewhere else.

 

By consciously controlling our breathing, we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and reduces stress. This can lower our heart rate, decrease blood pressure and calm our minds. We can slip into a zen-like calm…as a pint glass flies through the air.

 

Improving mental health

Breathwork has also been shown to have huge benefits to your mental health promoting relaxation and reducing stress. It can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

 

Additionally, breathwork has been shown to improve cognitive function, enhance feelings of well-being, and increase our capacity for emotional regulation.

 

Studies have found that slow, deep breathing can stimulate the vagus nerve, which plays a key role in regulating the autonomic nervous system. This in turn can lead to improvements in mood, attention and overall mental health.

 

Boosting immune function

Another huge benefit of breathwork is what it can do for our physical health. Aside from reducing stress and promoting relaxation both of which help boost our immune function, there are also techniques like “lymphatic drainage breathing”, which isn’t as gross as it sounds. It essentially stimulates the flow of lymph fluid in the body which leads to a reduction in inflammation and promotes detoxification. In fact, studies have found that regular breathwork can increase the activity of natural killer cells, if you don’t have a favorite cell pick these guys, they ones kicking down doors and fighting off infections and tumors!

So now you know how good it is why not try practicing the simple exercises below and experience the benefits of breathwork? Your mind and body will thank you!

Breathwork Photo of man doing
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, placing one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your belly to expand.

Exhale slowly through your mouth, letting your belly fall inward.

Repeat for several minutes, focusing on the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your body.

Abdominal Breathing

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