what is breathwork
Breathwork is a form of controlled breathing in order to achieve the desired results. For example, when something scary happens, what do we do? We hold our breath. When we are in a yoga class and we find an uncomfortable position, we stop breathing. The yoga instructor is constantly reminding us to breathe. We must be reminded to return to our breath during the practice.
We all breathe on this planet in order to live. It’s something we take for granted because it’s required to survive and thrive. But what if we were intentional about our breath? not 24 hours a day. That’s a noble goal but consider exercise. If we exercise for 30 minutes to 1 hour three to five times per week, we see results. We feel better, our bodies morph into healthy specimens. It takes a few hours per week to achieve these results.
Breathwork is the same. If we breathe with focused attention for a few minutes every day, we will be healthier and better human beings for it.
send your breath to your body
When I was 20 years old I took my first yoga class. During savasana, where you get to relax for a couple of minutes at the end of the class, the instructor had us breathe-in and send our breath to different part of our body. I didn’t understand what she meant. “How do I do that? Send my breath? Oh well, here goes nothing.” And I did. I breathed-in and sent my breath to my ribs that were sore. I hadn’t realized I was tight in this area until my breath brought attention to it.
After about three months, my body felt amazing. I was powerlifting at the time so I was always sore. Hence the yoga class. It was part of my active recovery. It helped to decompress my spine after I consistently overloaded my spine with heavy weight on training days. I started noticing that many of the aches and pains dissipated with regular yoga practice. The two-minute session at the end of class became my favorite part of the hour. Sending my breath to where ever my body needed seemed to be the icing on the cake. I fell into a deep sleep and wondered into dreamland for what felt like hours yet it was only 2-3 minutes. Those minutes were priceless.
I now use breathwork in my daily life. During the day when I’m working, being a mom, being and wife and yoga at home. When life gets hard, frustrating, everything’s going wrong, that’s the real life equivalent to getting into an uncomfortable position in yoga class. Your body screams at you to, “Move! Don’t stay here! What are you doing? This is uncomfortable.” You then remind yourself to “breathe…” and your body relaxes. You’re better able to hand the discomfort. You focus on your breath, allowing your breath to guide you through the challenging moments.
Learning to breathe in yoga class has helped me in more situations than I can count. Our bodies are wise. When we are still and allow it to guide us, it helps us get through the hard times and heals many of our discomforts.
Breathe in for 3 seconds and breath out for 4 seconds, ten times in a row. If this is too easy for you, try breathing in for 3 seconds and breathing out for 6 seconds. The goal is to eventually get to the point to where you can exhale twice as long as you can inhale in a relaxed state. It should not be forced. This takes practice. Don’t rush the process. Allow your breath to guide you.
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