Breathing exercises, also known as breathwork, can be a simple and effective tool for promoting self-care and overall well-being.
Incorporating breathwork into your daily routine can have many benefits, including:
Reducing stress and anxiety
Improving focus and concentration
Healing our mind and body
Regulating the nervous system
Enhancing feelings of calm and relaxation
Here are 7 steps to help you incorporate breathwork into your daily self-care routine:
1. Start small:
When you start a new practice, it may seem slow and tedious at first, making you lack patience and wanting to see results faster. However, when it comes to breathwork, starting small can be a great way to build a solid foundation and can help you become more confident.
It can be as simple as taking 9 deep breaths every morning or incorporating a 5-10 minute guided breathwork meditation practice into your daily routine. You can gradually increase the duration of your practice as you become more comfortable with the techniques.
2. Choose a technique:
There are several types of breathwork modalities. Most stem from an ancient yoga practice from India called Pranayama.
Pranayama breathing techniques include a wide range from strong hyperventilation techniques that release and energize the body, to calmer and balancing techniques such as Ujjayi breathing and Alternate Nostril breathing.
If you’re new to breathwork, it's generally advised to seek a teacher’s guidance or start with slower-paced breathing techniques and/or guided sessions. When I started breathwork, I had no prior experience. I was fortunate to receive training from an experienced pranayama practitioner, who took me on a journey of self-discovery while learning various techniques in a natural, progressive way.
3. Create a quiet and comfortable space:
Choose a quiet and comfortable space where you won't be disturbed. Sit or lie down in a relaxed position. If you’re at your workplace, turn off any distractions and turn away from your desk so that you’re not facing your work. When the mind is restless, it's difficult to sit in meditation. I’ve found limiting distractions are helpful in calming the mind.
4. Be present:
When you're practicing breathwork, set your intention to be present and focused on your breath. If the mind starts to wander, gently redirect your attention back to your breath.
Some days, you may find that the thoughts won't stop. It’s all good. Stay patient with yourself along the journey. As we continue practicing mindfulness, we develop space between our thoughts, observing without judgement. We develop an understanding that thoughts come and go. We are not our thoughts. This enhances our ability to consciously respond versus impulsively react.
When thoughts don't stop, simply focus on your breath. Breathing is the quickest way to center your mind and welcome the present moment.
5. Find ways to practice regularly:
Incorporating breathwork into your daily routine can take time and practice, but the benefits are worth it. You'll likely notice an improvement in your mood, sleep, and stress levels.
Try to make breathwork a part of your daily activities, either first thing in the morning, during your work break or last thing at night. For seamless integration, it may also be helpful to pair your breathwork practice with an activity that is already established in your routine. For example, take 9 deep breaths before showering.
Remember, breathwork is a journey and takes patience, so be kind to yourself and don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results. The key is to stick with it and make it a regular part of your self-care routine.
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