Do you find yourself holding your breath in times of stress? Maybe your breathing starts to become really shallow as you feel the tension rising. If so, then you will want to keep reading as we share about the practice of breathwork.
Breathwork is a form of active meditation and refers to any type of breathing exercises or techniques. People often perform them to improve mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. During breathwork you intentionally change your breathing pattern in a systematic way depending on if you want to promote deep relaxation or feel more energized. We will be focusing on a simple breathwork technique to promote relaxation.
The Relaxing Breath
4-7-8 breathing from Andrew Weil, M.D. helps to slow down and calm the body. It slows the heart rate, brings our consciousness to the present moment by focusing on the breath, and slows the nervous system, bringing a feeling of calm and peace. This breathing technique is perfect for when you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, tense, or stressed. It can also be used if you have trouble sleeping. Dr. Weil recommends using the technique at least twice a day to start seeing the benefits sooner. He also suggests that people avoid doing more than four breath cycles in a row until they have more practice with the technique. You will want to begin seated to avoid any dizziness until you are more practiced at this specific technique.
How to do it:
Sit down with a straight back and both feet planted on the ground. Next, empty the lungs of air, breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, exhale out of your mouth for 8 seconds, and repeat at least 4 times.
As you breathe in, imagine the grounded energy from the earth is filling your body from the feet up. As you hold your breath, visualize the breath spiraling up the center of your body.Then as you exhale over 8 seconds, imagine releasing any thought or feeling that does not serve you, out of the mouth.
As you get to the end of the 4-7-8 breathing, as an added visualization, imagine light pouring in from the top of your head, through your body, and down into the ground. Connecting you to the cosmos and grounding you into the power and healing energy of the earth.
Let us know in the comments if you try this breathwork exercise, we would love to hear what it was like for you!