Conscious breathing: what is it and how to optimise the benefits
by Laura Roodhouse
7th March 2022
By LAURA ROODHOUSE
Photo: Rubin Utama
Facilitator Bryden McGregor
BREATHING IS something we unconsciously do every single day, however when done correctly and consciously, there’s some incredible power to breathing.
Roughly eight years ago, when I was first fully immersed in the health and wellness space, I came across breathwork through a facilitator who just returned to Melbourne after teaching for some time in Germany.
It was the newest health fad across Europe and seemed somewhat straightforward, however, I soon realised that this underrated practice had some incredible and transformative benefits.
Practising conscious breath also made people so empowered when they recognised that breath is so readily accessible.
It can be done anywhere and at any time.
Before I started practising breathwork and mindful breathing, I really had no idea just how shallow my breath was.
As I became more consistent in my practice, I realised that I was only going as far as my chest, and when I became stressed or anxious the shallow breathing was only making those feelings worse.
While the body is a complete masterpiece, there are ways and tactics to better harness the breath for holistic benefits.
Firstly, breathing into the nose brings a purification and detoxification process that happens as the air passes through the nostrils and towards the lungs.
The nostrils filter, warm, and humidify the air in a way that the mouth cannot.
At times, breathing through your mouth is necessary (increased physical activity, sinus issues), but consciously breathing through your nose will purify the air especially in very dry or cold environments.
It has also been proven that breathing through the nose will increase air flow to arteries, veins and nerves — increasing the overall oxygen update and circulation.
In breathwork, we teach that conscious breath will then move towards your stomach as your diaphragm contracts and the belly expands as your lungs fill with air.
It is a highly efficient way to breathe as it pulls down on the lungs creating negative pressure in the chest, resulting in air flowing into the maximum area of your lungs.
I often prompt the feeling of breathing into your stomach first, before allowing the breath to fill up into the lungs.
For a more mindful approach to your breath, hold this breath for up to eight seconds, allowing the heart rate to slow down.
This will help to calm the nervous system to reduce anxiety and stress, it also helps to put the body into deep relaxation.
On the release of your breath, focus on releasing your stomach first, allowing the exerting breath of carbon dioxide to travel up the body through the lungs, up the air passage, and release the full breath through the mouth.
It is nurturing for the body to also place the left hand on your heart or chest, and your right hand on your stomach.
Feeling the tactile flow of breath throughout your body.
Our breath is synonymous with life.
To be alive is to be breathing, so, when we can intentionally change the way we breathe, we change the way that we respond to life itself — and this can be incredibly powerful.
Whether it’s taking a deep breath to pause and take time out to respond, or to do a few cycles of breathing to ease anxiety, we’re able to change our internal states which leads to change in everything external to us.
Other benefits of breathwork include: deep relaxation, reduction in anxiety and stress, improved sleep, boosted immune system, increased energy, released trauma and trigger patterns, release of stuck emotions held in the body, rebalance of the nervous system, release of blockages of built-up body tension, as well as freedom from limiting beliefs and behaviours.
Remember to breathe.
Laura Roodhouse is the owner of Wellness by PP wellnessbypp.com