Yoga, Tai Chi, Chen, Wu (Hão), these are a few practices that involve both physical and internal work.
We all know how to do physical work. Weight lifting, hiking, running to name a couple. However, what about the most important work of them all, internal work?
If one can control his own breath he or she can control anxiety and stress on a much deeper level.
Think about your breath as an equilibrium, when our air way get’s out of sync, we turn into panic mode, and our whole body becomes stressed and anxious. When the pressure from the outside world impacts our breath, it’s effects on the body and mind are disastrous on our longevity.
On the contrary, the benefits of breath work, both physically and psychologically, are countless and mind blowing.
In this article we will review the many benefits of breath work and the different practices one can perform in order to gain it’s benefits.
(1) Increased brain power
What if I was to tell you that slow breath work can improve the output of autonomic and central nervous systems. A study in 2018 found that breath work can increase activity in cortical (e.g., prefrontal, motor, and parietal cortices) and subcortical (e.g., pons, thalamus, sub-parabrachial nucleus, periaqueductal gray, and hypothalamus) structures. In other words, breath work can increase the mechanisms that make your brain work efficiently.
(2) Can lower stress
The power of breathing techniques and internal work are countless. Among them, you can find that breath work can lower stress. When people are anxious or stressed, they tend to breath from the chest (thoracic). Chest breathing can upset the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body resulting in increased heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension, and other physical sensations. However, deep breathing from the stomach, can increase our “feel good” sensation and lower stress by calming us down. Also, breath work creates mental awareness and clarity which can make your issues and problems seem unmeaningful which can prove to lower stress.
(3) Improve physical health
Breath work or internal work is found to help and reduce the symptoms of various physical illnesses. Breath work therapy and such practices like meditation are found decrease chronic pain, joint pain and other inflammatory issues. By breathing deeply, one can activate his or her’s parasympathetic nervous system and in turn slow down your heart rate to then lower your blood pressure. By calming the system down by breath work, one can lower stress thus, lowering inflammation. With breath work, it is possible to reduce to zero the root cause of many chronic diseases.
Different breathing techniques
(1) Wim Hof Method
If you don’t know anything about Wim Hof, it’s time to get to know him.
Born in Holland, Wim is a total bad ass who has accomplished amazing physical feats not believed to be possible until recently.
With a simple breathing technique, Wim is believed of being able to control his immune system among many other things.
How does it work?
Simple, take deep breaths (in and out) at the 30th breath, blow out and keep it in for as long as you can, take a deep breath in, keep it once again for 15 seconds and repeat for 3 sets.
(2) Box Breathing
Otherwise known as square breathing, it is a technique used when using slow deep breaths.
How does it work?
In this practice, we’re exhaling while afterwards keeping our breath for 4 seconds, inhale thereafter for another 4 and repeat for as many rounds as you would wish.
(3) 4-7-8 Technique
The 4-7-8 technique forces the mind and body to focus on regulating the breath, rather than replaying your worries when you lie down at night. Proponents claim it can soothe a racing heart or calm frazzled nerves. Dr. Weil has even described it as a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.”
How does it work?
Prepare for the practice by resting the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, right behind your top front teeth. You’ll need to keep your tongue in place throughout the practice. It takes practice to keep from moving your tongue when you exhale. Exhaling during 4-7-8 breathing can be easier for some people when they purse their lips.
First, let your lips part. Make a whooshing sound, exhaling completely through your mouth.Next, close your lips, inhaling silently through your nose as you count to four in your head.Then, for seven seconds, hold your breath.Make another whooshing exhale from your mouth for eight seconds.
Lastly, it’s important to note than stress is an important factor of life. We need it for a variety of reasons. However, too much stress like anything and everything in excess is harmful for our wellbeing. As we speak, most individuals across the world are highly stressed which makes them vulnerable to a variety of diseases.
In 2020, I suggest everyone to not only train the outside by working out, but also the inside by doing practices such as breath work and meditation.
It’ll keep you healthier, longer.
So, to all my readers and clients, happy 2020, may all of your dreams become a reality and may all of you live a healthier life.
Love and peace