10 Ways Deep Breathing Can Relieve Stress
How we show up in a state of the crisis determines how we show up in life. Do you catch yourself giving into panic and talking about doom and gloom to your family members? Or are you the one to reassure everyone? The guiding light the positive voice... the strong one. It’s more than okay to feel fear and anxiety. Allow yourself to acknowledge this feeling. Accept it, and breathe through it. In times where we have no control over the world around us, it’s best to just breathe. Although this sounds really simple, as we’re breathing all the time, there is a whole movement to explore… it’s called breathwork.
There is a difference between taking a breath and mindfully breathing. In fact, one recent neuroscience study found connections between breathing and state of mind. We know the mind is one of the control centers of the body, so if a mindful flow of oxygen can influence this, the benefits of breathwork are limitless.
1. Reduces Stress
We are a stressed-out global population, that’s undeniable. We all know the feeling of having to take a couple of deep breaths during a tense argument, and focussing on breathwork can have a similar effect in the long-term. When you breathe deeply and mindfully, a message is sent to your brain to calm down and relax. When we’re stressed, our brain releases cortisol, but by allowing more oxygen to enter our body it frees up pathways to remove the stress-hormone from our system.
2. Calms Nervous System
Conscious breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system, although you may know it as the rest-and-digest system. It takes our body out of flight or fight mode and gives your cells a chance to rejuvenate and heal. Breathwork brings us into a relaxed state and the benefits from cell rejuvenation continue to flow. Studies have shown that pranayama breathing, in particular, uses a mechanism that interacts with our nervous system to have such a profound effect.
3. Improves Respiratory System & Posture
Like when you go to a pilates class and work muscles that you don’t often get into, deep, conscious breathwork can have the same effect on our respiratory system. Breathing deeper and adopting techniques we wouldn’t normally use in daily life helps release any tension stored in the diaphragm and primary breathing muscles, which can relieve many long-term respiratory issues such as asthma and breathlessness. Breathing deeper, wider, and consciously also opens up the chest and releases tension from muscles, leaving us with a relaxed posture.
4. Increases Energy Levels
Breathwork allows for air to enter all parts of your body; those white light meditations aren’t just a visualization, you’re actually receiving healing goodness throughout every inch of you. Deep, mindful breathing allows oxygen to enter your bloodstream, depositing the vital component for energy throughout your body.
5. Aids In Proper Digestion
With our modern diets and growing lists of allergies, too often we’re left feeling like our digestive system isn’t running quite as it should be. Developing a solid breathwork practice can help with that. A conscious, mindful breath elevates blood flow in the digestive tract, meaning the intestines have all they need to do their thing, which not only improves food digestion but also can assist in alleviating IBS and constipation.
6. Better, Deeper Sleep
We’re all after a good night’s sleep, none of us really enjoy waking up feeling sluggish and it’s important to get those eight hours in for our overall help. But with conscious breathing comes heavy sleeping. One 2019 meta-analysis explored breathing and meditation for sleep disturbances, finding it improved conditions. Not only useful for clearing the mind of those who suffer from anxieties and insomnia, but we also know that breathwork sends the sympathetic nervous system to sleep, allowing our body to shut down in peace.
7. Enhanced Immunity
Oxygen is essential to carry nutrients around our bodies and when fully oxygenated, it transports digested foods around our bodies with ease. This is especially true for the vitamins and minerals that protect us from harm or disease. We are more robust, giving us the energy to bounce back. Breathwork also supports our lymphatic system, which is vital for cleansing the body of bacteria, viruses, and other potential health issues.
8. Can Provide Ease in Pain Management
We know that breathwork directs healing energy throughout the body, so we really shouldn’t be surprised that this tool can be used for pain management. Deep breathing relaxes your muscles, by sending oxygen and healing nutrients like magnesium to the source of your woes. While it’s not always the case, in instances like back pain or migraines, breathwork is a tool you can take anywhere to help. Holotropic breathwork, for example, had been the subject of studies to prove efficacy in pain management.
9. May Lead to Trauma Release
Breathwork, in all its wonders, may lead to trauma release. This can be alarming if it wasn’t your intention for the practice, but releasing past trauma allows us to heal our mind and any physiological symptoms that have manifested as a result of the trauma. This same holotropic breathwork used for pain management can aid in a dramatic release. If you know that there may be something triggering you, or there is a trauma or limiting belief holding you back, breathwork is able to be practiced with an experienced guide.
10. Harmony in Mind, Body, & Spirit
Being present with your breath allows for reflection and acceptance of the now. Without distraction, we are free to drop into our deepest self and invite harmony between our multi-faceted being. Breathwork allows for clarity and offers a grounded connection with the universe. And the health benefits that arise from this harmony are limitless.
In Episode 2 of TRANSCENDENCE. titled ‘Overcoming Fear and Stress’, Wim shares how cold water brought him to not only find himself but to find the immense strength within his breath. You’ll also hear from experts including Chris Wark, Ocean Ramsey, Bruce Lipton, and more. And don’t forget, this is only one of five powerful episodes - there is so much more inspiration to come.
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