We are always just one breath away from feeling better when using breathwork
Could something we do every day really be that simple and at the same time complex? Absolutely!
It could be said that the two most important breaths in our life are our first and our last breaths…but what is most important to me as a passionate breathwork and wellness coach is that we remember to pay more attention to all the breaths in between.
That’s what breathing into happy really means for me, helping students and clients remember the magic of breath. To that end, I don’t want this to be just another article that says “Take a deep breath and all will be well again.”
While it can often be that easy, breathwork for everyday life offers much more and has a variety of other amazing health and mental benefits beyond just feeling calmer.
If you are a yoga practitioner and/or a fitness or wellness pro, you may already be familiar with pranayama. Pranayama is simply breath control, breathwork, or breath manipulation, which is done in an effort to deliver desired outcomes.
I love this practice so much. The respiratory system is the one system in our magical, complex bodies that both functions involuntarily all day long. While at the same time, we have the opportunity to harness it voluntarily for our benefit.
Of course, that only happens once we understand the power of using the breathwork for everyday life for mind, body, and soul wellness.
Breathwork? What about BreathPlay!
This may be an area that is new to you, beyond simple meditative breathing. If you are curious to take a deeper dive with me, let’s go deeper into the magic of prana, with what I also like to call BreathPlay.
Global Awareness of Breath
First I do want to call out the elephant in the room. As a breathwork coach and breathwork teacher trainer, it’s not lost on me that in the past year-and-a-half, everything that has occurred via COVID-19 and other socially devastating events, has catapulted the topic of breathing, breathlessness and deep breaths front and center.
We could say one silver lining from the past 15 months is that there is more global awareness now around not only the importance of breath for better health but also the benefits of mental and spiritual wellness.
If ever there was a time to understand how to use the breath, and maximize and harness the gift of breath it is now!
Usually when I describe to people what I do for a living they sort of look at me like I have three heads! I imagine it’s because…well, breathing is something we all “know how to do” and for the most part we all do automatically, even involuntarily, unless of course you’re a “breath holder” but we’ll get into that later.
So how is breathwork as a practice different from just regular daily breathing?
There is so much to this question. I feel that breathwork can be broken down into three main buckets:
- Breath exercises also called prescriptive breathing.
- Breathwork styles for transformational healing.
- Breathwork for optimal health and enhanced sports performance.
In this article, I will share some great ways to play with the breath to affect a physical change in your physiology and mental state.
Here are a few of my favorite breathwork for everyday life exercises and their benefits:
The Cooling Breath
This technique not only cools down the body, but it cools down the mind. It has a calming effect on the blood pressure as well as the nervous system. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system by triggering the rest and digest reaction. This technique can also reduce acidity, hypertension, and indigestion.
To start, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Stick out your tongue as far as possible without straining, and roll it so that the sides of the tongue are facing upwards. Inhale for four counts through the rolled tongue, like sipping air with a straw. Then close your mouth and exhale for six counts through your nostrils. This is one round of the cooling breath.
As you inhale, the air is cooled down by the moist tongue, and you’ll feel the air being colder when entering your body. You can continue for 10 rounds to start with, slowly progressing up to 40 or 50 rounds.
As you inhale, envision the air traveling into your nose, through your entire body, and back out again. Imagine it traveling through all your muscles, all the way to your toes and fingers before it comes back out again during your exhale.
Focusing on your breathing activates your parasympathetic system, encouraging it to calm down, relax, and lower your heart rate in preparation for sleep.
4-7-8 Breath Exercise
This exercise is great for both stress relief and grounding. It is also beneficial to practice before a big event, presentation, or meeting. Start with only four cycles to and work up to eight cycles twice a day
Sit with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth.
Keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue. Purse your lips on the exhale. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four cycles.
This is a great exercise for those new to meditation and breathwork. Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it.
Try to keep the breath quiet and slow, but the depth and rhythm can vary. To begin the exercise, count “one” to yourself as you exhale. The next time you exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.” Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation. Never count higher than “five,” and count only on the exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself counting higher than to eight or beyond.
Breath of Fire
This breath is great for increasing energy, warming the body, stimulating detoxification, improving circulation, strengthening the muscles in the abs and around the solar plexus, and stimulating the brain.
With the mouth closed, breathe in and out of the nose. Puff out the cheeks on the exhale. Practice quick and short breaths. The breathing should be loud and quick. Pull your abdomen in during the exhale, and press it out during the inhale. Imagine your belly fills up with air during the inhale and use your abdominal muscles to push the air out during the exhale. Do no more than 10-30 seconds at one time and repeat for two to three sets.
Breathwork for Everyday Life
All of the above breath exercises can be used when and where needed to start to foster a deeper connection to your breath. The beauty of these exercises is they are short and sweet yet deliver tangible physiological benefits which in turn impact your overall wellbeing. They can be used anytime and anywhere…thus the beauty of breath.
Until then, remember you are alway just one deep slow breath away from happy.
Rebecca Kordecki is the owner of The Breath Zone and the creator of Booty Slide. She has enjoyed a very successful 26-year career as a highly sought after celebrity trainer and wellness expert.
Over the past 5 years Rebecca has added Breathwork to her list of expertise after training with Dan Brule and David Elliot.
Rebecca is beyond passionate about teaching people to use breath + movement to get out of their heads and into their hearts and be the boss of their happy and healthy one breath at a time.
She’s been featured on The Today Show, EXTRA, Daily Candy and in Vogue Magazine, Men’s Health and many others.
You can follow Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccakordecki or visit her website www.thebreath.zone to find classes and dates for her upcoming breathwork teacher training.