Breathing is easy right? I just happens. We don’t need to think about it, we don’t need to do anything it just happens for us. Yes, breathing is an involuntary function, however it is the only involuntary function that we also have control over. Many of us are breathing incorrectly and could really benefit from practicing Breathwork – breathing consciously.
It is something that has been practiced for many years in the Eastern World. Pranayama (control of breathing) is one of the most important practices within yoga. Becoming conscious of your breathing & controlling the breath can alter emotions and state of being. For example from feeling anxious to calm, distracted to focused, tense to relaxed. Our breath changes through the experiences we face, it correlates with what is happening to us in that moment. We may hold our breath when in shock, breath quickly when we are anxious or angry, and breath slowly when we are more relaxed. Learning breathing techniques can enable us to take control over our state of being, of how we are feeling in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in.
Having awareness of your breath is the first step into practicing conscious breathing. Where can you feel your breath? Where can you feel it in your body? Does it feel restricted? Does it feel stuck or is it flowing? Are you breathing shallow or deeply? Can you feel your breath more in your chest or in your belly? Do you hold your breath when doing certain activities? Do you hold your breath when writing an email, a text or writing your to do list for the day? The more you observe your breath you may notice that during certain activities you forget to actually breathe!
Here is a simple technique for you to try:
Sit in a quiet space, you can be sitting on the floor or in a chair. Feel the ground beneath your sit bones or under your feel & begin to ground yourself. Focus your attention in on the breath, the sound it makes, the feeling of the air coming out of your nose, the temperature, the flow. Move your belly, expanding as you breathe in and contracting as you breathe out – be sure to keep the muscles of the abdomen soft.
Close down your eyes, keeping the focus on your breath. You may want to take a few breathes in through the nose & out through the mouth. Try a small pause between the in breathe and out breathe. This allows the breathe to really slow down & gives you more connection to the rhythm of your breathing.
Remind yourself that you have nothing to do. “I focus on my breathing. I let go.” Inhale – “I focus on my breathing” Exhale – “I let go” – repeat this a few more times.
If your mind starts to wonder (which is most probably will – it’s your mind after all) – keep calm, and just see them as a wave floating by. Smile as you watch it pass over you. You’ve seen it, but you don’t need to engage with it. Simply bring your attention back to the breathe.
You may want to introduce a little bit out counting – breathing in for 6 & out for 6. This can also help with focusing on the breathing rather than engaging with your thoughts.
Continue for 5 minutes. Each day you can increase your time by a couple of minutes. Know that you can also take a few seconds, a minute throughout your day to take a few deep breathes, particularly when you feel yourself feeling tight, tense or anxious.