If you know anything about things like meditation and mindfulness, it’s probably that they involve a lot of focus on breathing. It might seem a bit strange, the idea that something we do pretty much every moment of the day without thinking can actually be something that requires attention. When you’re feeling stressed, however, breathwork can be very valuable for creating calmness and clarity (https://longevity.technology/lifestyle/breathwork-how-to-achieve-rapid-stress-relief-and-mental-clarity/).
Breathing exercises come in many forms, but they tend to have similar aims. They’re a way to alleviate the impact of stress, bring your turbulent feelings under control and help you think more clearly. This can help you focus, improve cognitive performance and stop you from making bad decisions because of strong emotions.
This isn’t just because of the mental aspects of breathwork, although they’re important. When you breathe slower and more deeply, there’s more oxygen reaching your brain. The stress hormones released when you enter “fight or flight” mode drop, allowing your parasympathetic nervous system to take control and encourage calmness. Controlling your breath gives you more control over everything else, both body and mind.
It may take a while to figure out which breathing exercises work best for you, but there are a few guiding principles to remember. You’re going to need a quiet, calm space where you won’t be disturbed, and you’ll need to find a comfortable position for yourself, whether it’s standing, sitting or lying down. Whatever your position, a straight spine is important if you don’t want your breathing to be restricted.
For many people, counting their breath is a good way to bring it under control. For example, breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, then breathe out for a count of six. Different counts may have a different impact, so experiment with what feels right for you. If you’re not sure, find a trained practitioner who can guide you.
What you’re going to need to do throughout the exercise is concentrate on your breath. Be aware of how it feels as you inhale and exhale, and take note of the effect it’s having on the rest of your body. Mindfulness is the key.
You could see significant benefits from just one session, but it’s going to take regular practice to feel the full impact. Why not add a short period of breathwork to your daily routine?