Conscious Breath Work for Better Physical and Emotional Health
The importance of breath work should not only be confined to people who practice yoga or meditation.
Conscious breathing is a vital source of health promoting benefits for both physical and emotional wellbeing; including optimum respiratory function, improving digestive efficiency and managing stress.
Simple daily breath work routines can help you to ease lung congestion, avoid chronic conditions like asthma and bronchitis and support your overall health and wellbeing.
Whether you’re looking to heal a particular condition or to simply bring more focus and calmness to your day, you should consider including a conscious breath work ritual into your daily self care routine.
1. Why You Need Breath Work
Breath work routines are incredible for your mental and emotional health; they can help centre you, induce relaxation, and reduce stress. But they can also do wonders for your physical health.
By using controlled breathing, we can engage the diaphragm and give our bodies more oxygen. But your blood needs to be able to receive that oxygen, and in your lower belly (or diaphragm), the blood flow is much better. This is why pulling breaths into your belly is so good for you and feels instantly more soothing than regular, shallow subconscious breathing.
When the increased oxygen meets the blood flow, this oxygen is better able to be dispersed throughout your body, helping to purify your cells and support healing from lung conditions like asthma and inflammatory lung conditions like Emphysema and chronic Bronchitis.
You’ll also notice you feel much more calmer and relaxed when you use diaphragmatic breathing, and that’s because the breath is stimulating the vagus nerve - an area that extends from the brain to the abdomen, which carries an extensive range of signals all the way up from digestive system to the brain and vice versa.
This is why, when you feel stressed, nervous or anxious, deep belly breathing can settle you quickly and effectively because of the calming effect it has on the brain.
2. How to Practice This Breath Work Routine
Practicing breath work to get these incredible mental and physical benefits is much simpler than you might imagine. It can also be customised to fit your comfort levels.
There are many different breath work routines out there to follow, but they all follow the same principle:
- Inhaling: you’re trying to get as much oxygen into the body as possible. This part should ideally last 4-5 seconds, sometimes as long as 8 seconds. Inhale deeply into the belly, expanding to fit all the air you can.
- Holding your breath: the goal of this part of the routine is to engage your diaphragm. It can also help to improve your lung capacity, if you suffer from any lung conditions, so consider holding your breath for 4-8 seconds too.
- Exhaling: releasing the oxygen from your body releases carbon dioxide from your body, a form of toxic waste. You want to exhale slowly and gently, not in one big rush. Try to make the exhale last for at least as long as the inhale. Pause and then repeat the cycle again several times as needed.
Breath work routines are generally conveyed with three numbers, eg. 7-7-7 (breathing in for seven counts, holding for seven counts, exhaling for seven counts). You can make these numbers anything you like in this sequence - for example, you could work with 4 counts or 8 counts also.
Basically, you can personalise your breath work routine to match your comfort level and goals each time you practice. Just experiment and find a level that works for you.
Over time, you’ll be able to lengthen the counts as your lung capacity increases, which is an easy way to track improvement in your respiratory function. It’ll also become much easier to concentrate and focus on the practice, because your body will become used to the routine of this type of conscious breathing.
There’s no wrong way to practice a breath work routine, just keep at it; you’ll continue to get better and better while seeing significant improvements in your physical and emotional wellness.
Learn more in Oxygen Therapy and How it Supports Healing.
3. Making Breath Work a Part of Your Day
The best part about conscious breath work, is that it can be practiced anywhere and anytime.
You can rely on it anytime you feel stressed or anxious to help calm you down quickly. Whether you’re needing to focus on a certain project, to relieve tension, or just wanting to approach your day in a more mindful way, there’s no shortage of ways to include breath work into your day.
If you’re trying to sleep, opt for longer sequences before bed to promote deeper relaxation. When you wake up in the morning, step outside into the fresh air and practice a few short sequences to oxygenate your body and brain and activate clarity and focus for your day.
The key is to simply designate a small block of time each day to do a few minutes of conscious breath work, and then to have it in your tool box for whenever you need it most.
If you're feeling any type of respiratory congestion, try our Breathe EZ Decongestant Nasal Spray or the Congest Ease Decongestant Balm to quickly and effectively clear your airways, to protect against airborne pathogens and to help heal breathing irritations without harmful chemicals.
4. Benefits of Concentrated Breath Work
Aside from the main mental, emotional and physical benefits of conscious breath work routines, due to the detoxifying effects, it can also help you to stay more youthful, to boost your immunity and avoid dis-ease.
After all, the average person reaches peak respiratory function and lung capacity in their mid 20’s. Respiratory capacity then begins to dwindle, losing between 9-27% for every decade of life after that.
Unless you start to do something to counteract this, your breathing capacity will continue to decline, reducing your resistance to dis-ease and your ability to stay active and enjoy life.
This is why conscious breathing regularly is so important for helping you to avoid conditions like heart attacks, cancer, pneumonia, asthma, strokes, and more.
You also gain energy from deep breathing. However, most people today only use 10-20% of their breathing capacity, which is why they feel sluggish and unmotivated.
Another major benefit of breath work routines, is that they also help encourage breathing through the nose, which maintains the correct balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our blood.
We usually inhale and exhale air quickly in large volumes when we breathe through our mouth. And research shows, that when we release carbon dioxide too quickly, the arteries and vessels carrying blood to our cells constrict and the oxygen in our blood is unable to reach the cells efficiently and in sufficient quantity.
This includes the carotid arteries which carry blood and oxygen to the brain. The lack of sufficient oxygen going to the cells of the brain can turn on our sympathetic nervous system, our “fight or flight” response, and make us tense, anxious, irritable and depressed.
Learn more in How to Balance Mood & Reset Your Nervous System.
Finally, to support your breathing routine, try adding a few drops of pure essential oils to your chest or rug together into the palms of your hands, cup over your knows and deeply inhale. This simple addition can will level up the respiratory benefits, whilst boosting your clarity and focus.
The Key Takeaway
Breathing is something we take for granted and don't bring enough consciousness to on a regular basis.
By embracing a simple breathwork routine that involves deep, diaphragmatic breaths for even just a few minute per day, you will improve your overall breathing performance, boost your resistance to respiratory illness and lift your mental clarity, energy and emotional wellbeing.
Tolman Self Care.