By: Linsey Chan
How to Get Started with a Breathwork Practice – The 3 Basics Ingredients
Here we share the 3 foundations of developing a Breathwork practice that will make a big difference to your day and get you started with straight away. First of all though, you are invited to get excited about having discovered the breath and the significant changes you are about to make!
Why the Breath?
Our breath is our most natural healing tool that we can consciously control to change our state and impact our health and wellbeing immediately. When we change our breathe rhythm consistently over time, we change our body’s chemistry and functioning bringing us back to emotional and physical wellbeing. Know that time you invest in creating this practice as a habit now will benefit you for the rest of your life.
You are in control. Feel empowered.
Think of our breath as the vehicle to our how we feel in the body. We are able to control how we feel by using the breath to either brake (calm, rest, digest) or accelerate (energise, activate, ) our energy. That is the foundation of the reason why we do Breath-work at its very essence.
Step 1 – Breath Awareness
With every breath practice we start, we must first begin with developing awareness. This is basically means becoming conscious of our breath without doing anything different. It Is about “tuning in” to the breath and assessing the quality of the breath as it is right now.
Breath awareness is simply about being conscious and “noticing” what the breath is doing in different states throughout the day. We “come back to the breath” in moments throughout the day, keeping a check on what your breath is doing.
To begin your breath awareness:
- Pause what you are doing and drop into the body
- Don’t change your breath but start to bring your awareness to it
- Start to notice the detail and quality of the breath and what it is doing its rhythm, pace, strength
Here are some questions to get you started:
- Am I breathing through my nose or mouth
- Is my inhale or exhale longer
- What is the quality of my breath, is it short and shallow or long and relaxed
- Where is my breath cycle in my body is it more in the upper (chest) or lower half (stomach) of my body?
- How am I feeling as I am breathing like this now? – anxious, relaxed, calm, alert?
- Am I breathing at all?
- Am I relaxing my exhale or am I controlling it through pursed lips?
- Are my shoulders hunched when I inhale?
- How does my rib cage feel when I inhale? Does it feel like it is opening at all?
We are not making anything wrong, just noticing the quality of you rhythm of breath and what your state is that is associated to it. When we start to build this practice and become more conscious of how our breath changes at different times throughout the day, in different situations and when we are in different states, then we are in a position to start to change the breath consciously to more functional breathing rhythms.
Step 2 – INHALE & OPEN – Opening your Body
You might already know that anxious breathing often sits high up in our chest. For functional breathing, we are looking to breathe fully into the 3 areas of our body, our belly, diaphragm and chest. It is common to be either a chest or belly breather, functional breathing includes movement in both areas. Why? Think of a baby, their natural way of breathing is in the belly, you can see a baby’s belly rise and fall. As we grow older, through conditioning, shocks, wearing bras etc. we start to breathe higher into our chest. Belly breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing) helps calm our autonomic nervous system, regulate our hormones and circulation and sends signals to the brain that we are “safe”.
Practice opening your body, specifically your belly on each inhale.
- Place one hand on the front and back of your belly
- Imagine there is a ball in the middle of your back and belly
- On each inhale imagine the ball filling up and pushing out your belly and touching your back
- This might feel strange at first as we are used to breathing up and down, not out and back
- Practice this for a few minutes throughout the day until you can “drop in” to opening your belly and diaphragm area quite regularly
Step 3 – EXHALE & LET GO
Our exhale allows us to let go – literally. Every exhale we do is an opportunity to let go of energy, toxins, emotions, experience. So many of us control the exhale or don’t full let go. This is a simple and very powerful change you can make, to practice letting go on each exhale. Imagine you have a switch at the top of your inhale before you exhale. Imagine as you finish your inhale and the switch goes off, this is a sign to fully relax and just allow and let the exhale be released, let it just fall. We are not controlling the exhale, (which could be seen through pursed lips), we are just allowing it to fall away from us. When we do this, we are sending signals to our brain (anygdalla) that we are safe and there is no need for a stress response. Our body can then create an environment of relaxation and repair.
We fully recommend practicing these 3 foundational Breathwork rhythms throughout your day to get you started. If you start to build these into your practice as a natural rhythm, you are half way to being able to use your breath really powerfully for your ultimate wellbeing. Remember, we take 23,000 breathes a day. Imagine if you can could change the quality of just 1% of your breathing to breathe more fully, allow more oxygen to circulate, bring in more energy, balance your system, let go of toxins and carbon dioxide. Wouldn’t it be worth it?
To go deeper with your practice, we recommend coming to an experience immersive Breathwork event or attending our signature Transform through Breath program to experience and make real change.
For more information visit Linsey’s website.