Optimal health, We all thrive or desire to be in optimal health. What is optimal health? Optimal health is a balance of physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and intellectual health. When your body, mind, and spirit are in sync positively and healthily that’s when we feel at our best. And, how do we connect the body-mind-spirit? The answer is Breath: Prana, the foundation of the Pranayama breathwork practice dating back to ancient India, means “sacred life force” in Sanskrit, and also fuels traditional yoga practices. Breath is the most important factor that keeps vital organs in good health, brings a sense of calm to our mind, and raises our overall vibration to enhance our spirits.
Breathwork is awareness of the breath. A Group of different breathing exercises or techniques which train you to manipulate breathing rate and depths to bring awareness to your breath is called Breathwork. Breathwork aims to move some energy, lifeforce, oxygen, and cosmic essence throughout the body to achieve overall well-being and health benefits.
Breathing sounds simple, yet we tend to forget how to breathe. Breathwork is simple, yet powerful practice which has fantastic benefits. Breathing is taking in oxygen and taking out CO2 (carbon dioxide) When we take faster breaths we get rid of more CO2 which is an acidic molecule. This makes blood more alkaline. Breathwork is a way to exercise the diaphragm, a muscle responsible for most (up to 80%) of our breathing. Consistent breathwork can enhance that muscle and our breathing quality. Deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and lowers cortisol levels. This can in turn provide the following benefits:
- Reduces stress, anxiety, depression, a feeling of negativity, feeling low
- Lowers heart rate, and blood pressure.
- Promotes better blood circulation, focus, concentration, and calm
Enhances sleep, self-awareness, contentment, confidence, and self-love.
- Cleanses our internal body and our overall aura.
- Alkalize blood PH which boosts our overall health and reduces the chances of chronic diseases.
- Helps process emotions, emotional pain, and trauma
- Increases muscle tone, and lungs capacity to absorb more oxygen.
- Enhances the quality of physical exercises like long-distance running, swimming, HIIT workouts, and strength training to name a few.
- Assists in chakra balancing and deepens meditative state.
Few of my favorite types of Breathwork exercises:
- Anulom Vilom Pranayam or alternate nostril breathing - A yogic practice that immediately helps you to feel calmer whenever you are feeling anxious or agitated. Inhale deeply through your left nostril while holding your right nostril closed with your right thumb. At its culmination, switch nostrils by closing off your left nostril and continuing to exhale smoothly through your right nostril. After exhaling fully, proceed to inhale through the right nostril, again closing it off at the peak of your inhalation. Lift your finger off the left nostril and exhale fully. Continue alternating your breathing through each nostril and practice for 3 to 5 minutes or 5 to 10 breaths. Ensure that your breathing is effortless, and your mind gently focuses on the inflow and outflow of breath.
Bhastrika or the bellows breath - A word of caution: This exercise must only be performed under supervision. Close the right nostril and inhale twenty rapid bellows-like breaths through the left nostril. Repeat with twenty more bellow breaths through the right nostril while keeping the left nostril closed. Proceed to take twenty bellows breaths through both nostrils. This method helps draw prana (the life force) into the body and mind, thus clearing out mental, emotional, and physical blocks.
Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean Breath - This is one technique that helps calm the mind and warm the body. Sit comfortably in Sukhasana or lotus pose. Keep your back straight and body relaxed. Inhale and fill your lungs, as you exhale gently contract your throat or windpipe. With contracting throat muscles, exhalation produces friction which sounds like ocean waves. This is one cycle Perform 2-3 cycles or more preferably under supervision.
Whenever I am feeling low or going through stress I take a conscious pause from everyday activities. We all go through those moments in our daily life when we feel the need to take a pause. A very important factor while taking a pause or unplugging from the noise is simply breathing. Breathing helps me instantly find my center. I gain clarity, I feel grounded, and gain energy to start the next phase of my day. So, here I am sharing a simple practice from my day, every day. Begin by finding a comfortable position, but one in which you will not fall asleep. Sitting on the floor with your legs crossed is a good position to try. Close your eyes or focus on one spot in the room.
Roll your shoulders slowly forward and then slowly back. Look up and then down. Gently rotate your neck. Let your shoulders drop, and unclench your jaws and hands. Relax your muscles. Observe your breathing. Take a deep breath in and exhale fully. Notice the stages of a complete breath. From the inhale to the pause that follows and to the exhale and the pause before taking another breath. Feel your chest and stomach gently rise and fall with each breath. Notice now how your body feels. Repeat the cycle for 5-10 breaths.
Notice how calm and gentle your breathing has become, and how relaxed your body feels.
Now it is time to gently reawaken your body and mind.
Keeping your eyes closed, notice the sounds around you. Wiggle your fingers and toes.
Shrug your shoulders. Open your eyes, and remain sitting for a few moments longer.
Straighten out your legs, and stretch your arms and legs gently.Sit for a few moments more, enjoying how relaxed you feel, and experiencing your body reawaken and your mind returning to its usual level of alertness. Slowly return to a standing position, and continue with the rest of your day, feeling re-energized. Now fill a large glass of water and slowly drink the water and smile as you do.
I am breathing
I am this breath
I am this moment
Health love & light
Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Yoga Instructor, & Founder of HolisticBuys.com