Breathwork is the understated and underrated remedy to a lot of our life’s stresses and everyday anxieties. We’ve all had those days where we need to stop what we’re doing to do some deep breathing and remind ourselves that everything’s all right. Breathwork is a very effective way of calming our nerves and helping us be our best selves. Therefore, it’s important to understand the mechanisms behind its usefulness. Below, we will delve into the many benefits, techniques and reasons to add breathwork into your daily routine!
What Is Breathwork?
Breathwork is a term encompassing various techniques of intentional breathing, which are used as an automatic stress response to situations. This helps to balance our mind, body and spirit, by mindfully breathing and regulating the oxygen entering our bodies. Breathwork is taking control and being aware of your breathing as a way to change your physical, mental and emotional state. Being aware of your respiration also contributes to mindfulness, and is prevalent in many different types of therapies and fitness.
Practiced by many cultures across the globe for thousands of years, breathwork is a key component of mediation and yoga. Notably, breathwork dates back to 3000 BCE to India and China, where it also spread to Tibet and Japan. Traditionally, such breathing techniques were used to maintain health and promote mindfulness. These practices are still widely used today and have been supported by many evidence-based results as to their benefits.
Learning to manipulate your breathing can help calm you down and control your mood. Just like breathing hard and fast usually pairs with anxiety, so too, slowing breathing can calm your body right down. Our automatic nervous system (ANS) benefits the most from mindful breathing. This is the part of our brains that controls our bodily functions associated with our moods. Thus, when you’re under stress your ANS starts acting up, releasing cortisol and increasing your heart rate and breathing. If we deal with chronic stress then it puts our nervous system into overdrive. This can lead to a number of anxiety issues, mental anguish and unnecessary tension. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to do breathwork in order to feel calmer and lead a more relaxed existence.
How Does Breathwork Work?
Breathwork is so effective, as it helps to slow down acute stress responses by mindfully breathing and increasing oxygen intake. This is very important, as it helps your body avoid the health issues associated with chronic stress. By utilizing your bodies’ natural relaxation abilities through deep abdominal breathing, you can reduce blood pressure, decrease stress and lessen anxiety. Slow breathing has been found to enhance psychological flexibility, allowing you to better handle pressure, strain and emotional situations.
Traditionally, yoga and meditation have used breathing to reach a meditative state of consciousness by regulating respiration. Breathing has been found to intimately link to our mental functions and our ability to deal with life’s everyday stressors. These studies have shown that such meditative breathing practices are excellent for managing stress and increasing wellness.
The plethora of benefits from breathwork are vast, and if practiced properly are incalculable. Particularly, breathing brings oxygen into your body, which steadies your mood and allows you to think more clearly. This practice of mindful breathing has been shown to calm your stress levels and bring equilibrium back to your body. Such breathing relaxes your body, allowing you to thrive by alleviating your body from emotional and/or physical stress. Being continuously overwhelmed and under strain is exhausting for both your mind and body. Moreover, being in a chronic state of anxiety can lead to a host of mental and physical issues.
Consequently, breathwork is also beneficial for your nervous system. When you feel overwhelmed and stressed, your breath usually comes out fast and shallow. This limits the oxygen that gets into your bloodstream, clouding your thinking and making your anxiety levels go up. This is because, if you don’t get enough oxygen to your brain, it makes your body believe that it is in danger. This puts you on high alert and you go into “fight or flight” mode.
Therefore, when mindfully breathing and taking slow deep breaths, you are actively calming yourself down. Simultaneously, this rush of oxygen alleviates the stress and tells your brain that everything is okay. Other benefits include alkalizing the pH in your blood, having an anti-inflammatory effect while also improving your overall mood. This allows your body to function normally again, so you can think and behave calmly while overall feeling better.
Essential Oils For Breathwork
Essential oils are perfect to pair with breathwork due to their aromatherapeutic properties. Certain oils contain molecules that help calm you down and relax your mind, plus they have been shown to also effectively relieve stress. This calming influence helps you to ease your nervous system and breathe easier. This further opens up your airways so you can inhale more deeply and bask in the essential oil scent.
With our interconnected world and the ongoing pandemic, many people are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and other mental health issues. Thus, even doing five minutes of aromatherapeutic breathwork can be all you need to feel calmer and more relaxed. We recommend a wonderful relaxation breathing blend to help you combat life’s everyday stresses!
Specifically, this blend will help to both deepen and calm your breath down. This in turn stimulates feelings of tranquility and peacefulness within your mind and body. So, if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, simply pop this essential oil blend into your diffuser and enjoy the aroma to allay your stress.
Essential Oil Recipes For Breathwork And Relaxation
- 5 drops lavender oil
- 3 drops chamomile oil
- 2 drops ylang-ylang oil
- 1 ounce water (approximately)
This blend of essential oils is an excellent way to open your airways, breathe and relax. Fill your diffuser with the water at room temperature. Check for a line inside the diffuser tank to determine whether you have poured enough water in. Add the essential oils to the diffuser and revel in the relaxing mist.
We recommend you use all these oils due to their soothing and calming qualities. In particular, lavender essential oil is one of the most popular calming essential oils for breathing. Its soothing scent has the ability to alleviate stress, restlessness and irritability, while also aiding you to fall asleep.
We also recommend chamomile as it is another of the most popular essential oils for relaxation and repose. Many people enjoy a cup of chamomile tea before bed to provide them with a sense of restfulness. Simultaneously, the aroma of chamomile provides peacefulness and allows you to breathe easier once it’s diffused.
Finally, ylang-ylang contains harmonizing and relaxing compounds that can help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Moreover, ylang-ylang essential oil has been shown to lower blood pressure when inhaled, helping you feel calmer and more relaxed.
Essential Oil Bath Blend
Another way to use these same relaxing essential oils to help with your breathwork is to add them to an aromatherapeutic bath. Using essential oils in the bath is one of those things in life you don’t realize you need until you finally do it. For an aromatherapeutic soak, this blend of essential oils will aid in clearing your mind, destressing your body as well as to breathe easier.
- 5 drops lavender oil
- 3 drops chamomile oil
- 2 drops ylang-ylang oil
- 1 tablespoon of carrier oil (jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, etc.)
Combine the essential oils and the carrier oil thoroughly and pour into your steaming bath. Once you get into the bath enjoy the aromatherapy and the opening of your airways to allow more oxygen in for a relaxing and calming soak.
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
This 4-7-8 breathing practice is an ancient yoga technique with the numbers corresponding to the seconds you inhale, hold and then exhale. This requires you to take long, deep breaths, and as you breathe you should visualize the air filling up your body. Breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 7, and exhaling for 8 until your lungs are empty. Both your belly and chest should expand when breathing in, and your chest and navel should relax when you exhale.
When done correctly, this breathing technique is excellent for turning your body into a deep state of relaxation. Primarily, this breathing pattern is great for aiding people to fall asleep faster and reducing anxiety. This technique helps your organs receive much-needed oxygen. Specifically, holding your breath for 7 seconds replenishes your body’s oxygen supply. This encourages your mind to quieten down and promotes balance between your brain and body for a restful mind.
Breath Of Fire
This breathing practice creates a pattern of breaths that tightens your core and abdominal muscles on the exhales. Passively, breathe in through your nose, and feel your abdominal muscles expand, before exhaling and tightening those muscles again. This technique will leave you feeling more energized and help create a balance between your mind and your body. What’s more, this breathing tells your body to relax, helping you feel more at ease and relieving feelings of restlessness.
Alternative Nostril Breathing
This type of breathing helps to calm your mind and body, balancing your emotions and assisting you to take on life’s stresses in a more relaxed manner. Start by pressing one of your nostrils and taking a deep breath until you’ve filled your lungs. Breathe out completely and then repeat with the other nostril, with your finger covering the nostril you just breathed into. Continue to alternate nostrils until you feel calm and relaxed.
Life can sometimes feel overwhelming and out of control. However, when you include breathwork and even on occasion essential oils, to help regulate your breathing, it will give your body a chance to reset. These breathing techniques aid your mind and body to regulate themselves and recover from the negative effects of stress. Likewise, breathwork leads to better mental health, focus and less anxiety which leads to a higher quality of life.
Therefore, when you’re feeling overwhelmed with life, there’s nothing better than doing some breathing practices to recalibrate your thinking. You can also turn on your diffuser so you can relax with some aromatherapy, and relax with the wonderful aromas. All of this will allow you to refocus your mind and body and to be more present. Thus, by just breathing correctly, you can recalibrate your center and lead yourself to better enjoyment of life!