The most powerful way to take the overwhelming charge out of stress and intense emotions, so that you can be present with them in healthy ways, is also one of the most overlooked. It works within minutes. It doesn’t have any side effects; by contrast, it actually has side benefits. Have you guessed what it is yet? Breathing!
This stress release champion probably tops the list of amazing things the majority of us take for granted, although fewer people are doing so now than ever before in our world history. And some are suggesting that specific variations of it can even support and quicken the healing process for people who have Covid 19.
Of course, you already breathe without having to think about it. But automatic, shallow chest-breathing to sustain life is very different from purposeful breathing, to enhance it on every level.
At times of great stress, we tend to take in even less oxygen, since we tense up, constricting the flow of oxygen into and through our bodies. This leads to feeling more anxious, and tensing up even more when what we need is the opposite.
If you don’t already practice breathing exercises, also known as breath work and pranayama, on a regular basis, I can’t think of a better time to begin. Once the practice becomes habitual, even your automatic breathing will become fuller and deeper.
Why is that important?
For starters, it will vastly improve your physical health. If your body is subsisting on bare-minimum breathing, it is starving for much bigger doses of fresh oxygen.
You can use your breath to improve your nervous and immune systems, strengthen and heal your lungs and other organs, balance the hemispheres of your brain, detox and so much more.
In case stronger immunity and better physical health somehow isn’t strong enough incentive in these times, you can also use your breath to release anxiety and stress from your body, relax and feel calm, release trauma, raise your vibration, release emotional blocks and negative beliefs, improve focus, recharge energetically and feel more peace and joy.
Your breath can also be the basis of a meditation practice and serve as a mindfulness tool.
Different techniques produce different results but all of these benefits and more are possible for all. You can practice any time, and don’t don’t have to leave home or involve another human being to do so. Breath work does not cost anything. There are no side effects, hangovers, withdrawal symptoms or risks for overdose.
So if you are able to take a big drink of refreshing oxygen into your lungs right now, I encourage you to do so now, with gratitude for this miraculous gift. And then take a few big breaths for those who can’t right now; in your imagination, you can even send that vibrant, healing inhale directly to anyone who needs it.
If you are new to breath work, belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, is a great place to start. As the name suggests, it involves breathing slowly and deeply from your belly instead of your chest. This sends a signal to your brain that it’s safe to calm down. You can place your hand over your belly while you’re new to this technique; your abdomen will expand like a balloon on the inhale. Reverse on the exhale while gently pressing your belly toward your spine. This breath is traditionally done through your nose. Variations, which also include holding your breath for specific counts, can be found online.
Breath Of Fire
Another great technique to incorporate into your daily practice, especially now, is called breath of fire. This one releases toxins and deposits from the lungs, mucous linings, blood vessels, and other cells. It expands your lung capacity, strengthens your nervous system, delivers oxygen to the brain, boosts immunity and reduces addictive impulses. It’s not recommended to practice this one while pregnant, or with a few other conditions that any reputable site teaching the breath will list.
Clear Your Traffic
If you’re interested in learning these breaths and several more, including the incredibly healing and transformational ones I am learning from my teacher, Dr. Sue Morter, I am teaching them in one-time 1×1 sessions and will soon be doing so on Zoom calls. Reach out for more info! 516-526-8455
To read more about the importance of feeling your emotions: