If you’re a health nut or fitness junkie, take note. If you are into self-improvement or personal growth, pay attention. If you are a counselor or a therapist, or an athlete or a coach, a performer, a healer, or simply a student of life, or one of our treasured elders: then you owe it to yourself to discover, explore and develop the power and potential of Breathwork!
You can breathe in ways to feel more energized and alive, more centered and balanced, more relaxed and focused. You can use your breath to free yourself fear, anxiety, stress, tension and pain. The way you breathe can cause, trigger, or exacerbate a host of health issues. It can also reduce or eliminate them.
When you practice conscious breathing, you awaken healing energies and calming forces within your mind and body. By breathing in certain ways, you can control and direct many so called unconscious or involuntary processes. You can manage and improve your physiological, emotional, and psychological state. That’s why elite warriors, professional athletes and high performers in every field practice breathwork.
Every psychological, emotional and physiological state has a corresponding breathing quality or pattern. As you move from one state to another, your breathing pattern changes. And the magic and the power of breathwork is that when you change your breathing pattern, you can change your state.
Observe your breathing right now.
How do you know that you are breathing? What feelings or sensations do you notice as the breath comes in and goes out? Do you breathe high in your chest or low in your belly? Do you breathe fast or slow? Is your breathing full and free? Is it smooth, easy and relaxed, or is it jagged, rushed or constricted? Tune into the subtle sensations of the breath. You are looking for details. Can you feel the air as it passes through the tip of your nose and as it flows down into your throat as you breathe? Where does the breath go when it flows into you? What does it touch? What moves when you breathe? What muscles do you use? What happens in your back, your neck, your jaw and your shoulders when you breathe?
Breath awareness brings to light many unconscious habits and reactions. This awareness can help us to prevent or resolve a host of health problems, life challenges, and relationship issues. If you can become aware of how you are breathing when negative or painful thoughts and feelings arise; and if you can redirect the flow of breath at those times, wonderful changes can occur!
Here are some simple yet powerful breathing exercises. Practice any one of them on a daily basis and you will add years to your life and life to your years—guaranteed!
Breathe low and slow. Diaphragmatic or belly breathing helps you to combat stress, and to regain your composure. Use it to calm, balance, and ground yourself. Relax into the pause after the exhale. Stretch the breaths out so that each inhale and each exhale lasts longer than usual.
Combine breathing and thought. As you inhale, think or say to yourself: “I am strong and healthy.” As you exhale, think or say to yourself: “I am peaceful and calm.” With each breath think or tell yourself “I am healthy and strong, safe and free.” Create your own soothing or uplifting thoughts or affirmations, and breathe them into reality!
Combine breathing and movement. Allow your body to move in some way, in synch with the breathing. For example, arch and curl your spine as you breathe in and out. Or, allow your hands and arms to express the feeling of expansion and relaxation that comes with every breath. Breathe in rhythm to your footsteps as you walk or run.
Combine breathing and sound. Make calm soothing sounds when you breathe. Breathe in through your nose and then breathe out through your mouth, making a “hoooh” or “haaah” sound. Make wind noises, ocean noises. Hum, whistle, chant, sing!
Combine breathing and visualization. Imagine the breath as light. Fill yourself with light as you inhale, and as you exhale, imagine this light radiating from you. Imagine sending healing light to every cell in your body: nourishing, cleansing, renewing, soothing, strengthening you. Then imagine this light flowing out to the world as love and compassion, touching and blessing everyone and everything in your life.
The idea is to become more aware of your breathing, and to breathe more consciously. Play with your breath. You’ll be surprised at the healing and creative power that can be awakened in you with this practice!
Dan Brule is the author of JUST BREATHE: Master Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business and Beyond. For more information, visit www.breathmastery.com