You might have heard the buzz word “breathwork” and wondered “What’s that?”Breathwork is one of the most powerful tools we have to change how we feel in any given moment. Anytime you’re consciously manipulating your breath, you’re practicing breathwork.
It’s not something that’s new. Breathwork has been practiced for centuries and is now just making its way into the mainstream after a hiatus from modern society. You might have noticed that your breath changes sometimes. You might have noticed It becomes shallow and mostly in the chest when you’re stressed or anxious. You might have noticed the deep, belly breaths you take when you’re feeling calm and relaxed.
Just as your breath changes with your emotional state, you can change your emotional state by changing the way you breathe. There are many different breath techniques. I’m going to share a few you can use for some of the most common emotions you may experience.
Before I share these techniques, I must inform you that breathwork may not be intended for everyone. If you have any medical conditions or are pregnant, please consult with your doctor before practicing any of these techniques shared below.
Now that I got the legal mumbo-jumbo out of the way – let’s start with stress and anxiety. It’s something we all experience yet only a few of us are given the tools to process these feelings. Breathwork is one of the most powerful tools you have to reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety in order to feel more calm and relaxed.
Breathwork Techniques for When you are Feeling Stressed or Anxious
Here are some of my favourite breathwork techniques you can use when you’re feeling stressed and anxious:
1. Slow, deep breathing
Practicing this involves taking slow, deep breaths in through the nose and releasing out through the mouth. The slow, relaxed breathing helps to activate the “relaxation response” of the body which helps to lower blood pressure and reduce muscle tension.
2. Alternate nostril breathing (aka nadi shodhana)
This breath technique involves closing one nostril, breathing in through the other, then switching breathing out through the opposite nostril. Next inhale is taken from the nostril which you exhaled through. This breath technique is believed to balance the brain’s hemispheres and has a calming effect on the body.
3. 4-7-8 breathing
This technique involves breathing in for a count of 4, holding for a count of 7 and exhaling for a count of 8. This pattern can be used as a great sleep aid. The slow, controlled breathing helps to calm the mind and relax the body.
Breathwork Techniques for When you are Feeling Tired
Being tired seems like the modern plague. We all feel like we could use a little more energy so we reach for things like coffee and energy drinks. Who knew that you already had what you needed within you – your breath! Replace your afternoon coffee with practicing the breath patterns offered below.
4. Breath of Fire
To do this technique, exhale sharply through the nose while pulling back in your abdominal muscles. Let the inhale occur naturally through the nose. Repeat this rapidly, in a continuous cycle. This breath can be intense and should not be practiced by anyone that is pregnant.
5. Snake breath
The inhale is taken through the nose and the exhale is done through the mouth, through clenched teeth, while making a hissing sound, just like a snake would. This breath is known to stimulate the nervous system, increase energy and alertness, and improve concentration and focus.
6. Sitali breath
With this breath technique, the inhale is through the tongue and the exhale out the nose. It is believed to cool and calm the mind. It’s a great way to increase energy and focus during a time of mental fatigue.
Breathwork Techniques for When you are Feeling Anger or Frustration
Anger and frustration is something we all feel from time-to-time. I never felt like I was given the tools I needed to deal with these feelings in a healthy way until I discovered the following breath techniques to help cool and calm my mind:
7. Diaphragmatic breathing
This involves focuses on breathing deeply into the diaphragm, instead of in the chest. This breath activates the relaxation response of the nervous system and promotes a sense of calm.
8. Box breathing
In this technique you inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4 and hold the breath out for a count of 4. And repeat.
9. Bumble bee breath
This breath pattern involves inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the nose while making a humming sound, like a bee would. It’s helpful to release tension and promote relaxation.
Breathwork Techniques for When you are Feeling Sad
When you’re feeling sad, it might be tempting to distract yourself from these feelings. When we don’t allow ourselves to feel completely, the emotions get stuck in the body. Instead of trying to numb the pain, use these following breathwork patterns to breath through the sadness or grief you’re feeling:
10. Laughter Breath
This breath technique involves faking laughter while focused on breathing. This can help to release pent emotions and promote relaxation.
11. Heart-centered breath
This breath technique involves focusing the breath and bringing awareness to the heart region. This can be helpful for releasing emotions and cultivating a sense of compassion and love.
It’s important to note that these breath techniques are not a substitute for professional help in case of severe sadness, depression, or anxiety . With breathwork, there is no one-size fit all technique. It’s going to take a little trial-and-error to see which breath techniques work best for you. Different breath patterns affect people differently. Try out different techniques in different scenarios to see how you react.
Whether you’re looking to reduce stress, improve your mood, increase energy or simply overall well-being, breathwork can be a powerful tool to support health and well-being. Join Jacki live on Facebook as she walks you through some basic breathwork. View the Facebook event.
Blossome Community Members are invitied to a private event with Jacki for a more indepth session, including a Q&A session, on Tuesday 14 Feb 2023. Join the Blososme Community and take part.
Jacki Mundrawala is a breathwork coach and Breathwork Programme leader for Blossome CIC.