Updated: Mar 21
Sharing My Story with Breath
For the first 37 years of my life I didn't really think much about breathing. I knew it was a necessity, cause without it I wouldn't survive. But that was really it. Breathing was like another thing you do automatically.
As you can imagine from a young age I started adopting unconscious breathing habits. One of the things I remember doing a lot of growing up in a household that had a lot of tension, was sighing out with my breath. My dad would ask me if I was alright, I let him know I was fine, I was just breathing, I didn't take too much notice of it.
Another habit I created being a girl and growing up with all the vanity and focus on what constitutes sexiness in a female, was holding my stomach in. Because it was sexy to have a flat tummy, small sexy dresses and midriffs don't work with a bulging tummy. Well this is what I allowed myself to believe and acted it out for a long time.
It was some years later when I also realised I was holding in my stomach or holding my stomach muscles, because I could feel a lot of other peoples energy around me. I didn't understand what I was experiencing and would normally follow with a sighing out of the breath (mentioned earlier), which I learnt later in life that I was purging or releasing out the tension I was feeling in my body, which normally accompanies some kind of fear. It turns out I am very sensitive to energy, I always have been but didn't know it until much later in life. You maybe familiar with the term being an Empath or a Sensitive. With all these habits I created, I instinctually ended up breathing predominately into my chest only.
I was 37 and I was going through a spiritual awakening process. With this, one thing I was looking for was to work with a personal trainer (Brad Rasmus). I needed someone to help keep me accountable in achieving some personal health goals and one of the very first things he was sharing with me was the importance of our breath.
Well this opened up a whole new world for me, I embarked on a journey of learning and working with a variety of breathing techniques over the years. This involved working with a number of different teachers, mentors and health instructors. Over time I have noticed a big difference in my overall health and wellbeing. I am not saying that breath is the only factor to account for my overall health and wellbeing. But it does definitely play a big part in the overall process. I have noticed just how powerful and how much the breath really influences and helps maintain not just my physical body but also the subtle bodies.
In this post I would like to share with you some of these things that I believe are valuable that I have gained through my own experiences and working with clients in the hope you too find this information helpful and start to see the importance and the influence of the breath, and how we could be using it more effectively.
What Is Your Normal Breathing Rhythm?
All too often breathing has become a reflexive or unconscious process. Something we have taken for granted. When we experience just how powerful the breath is, how to utilise certain breathing techniques in different situations we can really start to utilise it to its fullest potential.
The very first thing we do is check in and learn just how we normally breath. We are not looking at changing anything here, we are just observing how we have been breathing. This little practice in itself helps us to become more conscious of our breath.
You may like to try out the following steps to find out your normal breathing rhythm:
Stop what you are doing, go into stillness for a moment, by closing the eyes, it will help you to go within, as it minimises any distractions.
Just breath the way you normally would.
Notice in what part of the body do you breath into the most? - is it in the chest, in the solar plexus area or the lower abdomen or is it any combination of these areas?
Notice now what is the breathing style - is it short, shallow breaths, holding onto the breath for short periods, deep long breaths, heavier breaths or heavier deep long breathing?
Notice now if there is any tension or tightness you feel in any of the areas while breathing.
Notice if you hold your muscles during breathing.
Now we have just become aware of our normal breathing rhythm. There is a story behind our breath, why we have adopted certain breathing styles. For now its about learning your own breathing style.
It is best to note here, we may have adopted different breathing rhythms in different situations, so it is good practice to frequently check in with ourselves and notice how we are breathing in different settings.
What breath influences and how quickly
By utilising the breath in a more conscious manner, it is moving energy within the body.
I have learnt by using my breath more effectively and consciously it has an impact on all my bodies simultaneously, the physical body and subtle bodies. The subtle bodies to me is the emotional body, the mental body, and the spiritual body.
As we breath in, we are taking in energy, prana, chi (depending what culture you resonate with), we are taking life in, replenishing and revitalising ourselves. As we breath out, we are letting go of what is not needed in that moment. It's like recalibrating ourselves, bringing our self back into balance each moment.
So when we start to see the breath from this perspective we can start utilising it in a more conscious way. In times when we are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or angry, simply by drawing the breath into the emotion and the body where it is being impacted will immediately start to influence the emotional body, the mental body and physical body to come back into balance simultaneously.
Conscious breathing with intent helps to bring you back into Balance
Getting the most benefit out of breathing
What I have learnt to be a very beneficial way of breathing through out my day to day is full, slow and deep conscious breathing. Some may refer to it as a full yogic breath. I start breathing in from the abdomen, then into the solar plexus and up into the chest and back down again, finishing with contracting in the lower abdomen. This covers the full range and all the vital organs are benefiting from this.
At first this felt very mechanical until I created this new way of breathing, now its just second nature to me. This does develop perseverance, patience and kindness attributes within one's self just to name a few.
Now obviously we live moment to moment and things are constantly changing, so knowing where we are at within ourselves frequently, is key to know what kind of breath work will support us. Breathwork is also highly effective to ground us back into our bodies.
Reflecting on the Exhale
When it comes to breathing out, we can breathe out either through the nose or the mouth. By breathing out through the mouth we are setting the intent to purge, clear out any tension, worries, negative thoughts, perceptions we no longer need.
When we breathe out through the nose, its like we are building and circulating a combination of both the new chi along with any existing tension, worries etc we are holding onto. There are specific breathing techniques that works with the inhale and exhale through the nose to achieve a certain outcome. For the purpose of this post, I am more referring to our everyday, every moment breathing here.
So by learning how we are feeling inside as to whether we need to support ourselves by purging out and clearing, or building and circulating, or its a combination of both. First purge and the build and circulate, all this is in aid to bring us back into balance in a more conscious way.
Some styles of breathing techniques & their benefits
There are many different way we can utilise the breath consciously to better support us. Here I would like to share with you some of the breathing techniques I have learnt from different teachers along my self healing and empowerment journey. Some of which you may already be familiar with.
Some breathing techniques are:
Full yogic breathing - supports to stay in a more centred space within throughout your day. Also is very effective when we experience a trigger to stay balanced while experiencing the trigger.
Chakra breathing - breathing into each chakra to move the energy to help bring it back into balance.
Diaphragm pump - when we are feeling tightness in the diaphragm it helps to clear the build up in our feeling body.
Breath of fire - used in the yogic world, this is helps to clear and strengthen your power centre.
Alternate nostril breathing -also used in the yogic world, it helps to balance the central nervous system, helps you get centred again.
Box breathing or wave breathing - its like the full yogic breathing and also pausing on the inhale and exhale. This breath techniques is really supportive in times of anxiety, anger, worry, stress etc, it will calm you down so you can come back into balance.
Rebirthing - this technique is designed to build up a lot of electricity in the body to really purify blockages through out the entire body, be it emotional, mental, spiritual or physical. This breathing technique is more intense then the others and very effective.
Try out Box Breathing or Wave Breathing
You may like to try out this breathing technique, it is especially helpful in calming us down when we are experiencing a heightened state in our emotions and mind. This maybe a little difficult at first if you are not use to breathing into your abdomen, with practice it will improve.
As you take a breath in, breath into your abdomen (belly goes out) and
Then continue the breath up into your solar plexus,
Continue your inhale up into the chest,
Hold the inhale for 3-5 seconds,
Now exhale out through the mouth, firstly
Contracting the air out from the chest then,
Contracting the air from the solar plexus and
Lastly contracting the abdomen, then
Hold the exhale for 3-5 seconds
Repeat steps 1-9 for 3-5 cycles or until you feel you are calming down.
So as you breathe in and breathe out its creates like a wave formation within the body.
So if you are drawn to learning more about and practicing these breath work techniques, you can try yoga classes as they weave in breathing practices into their session.
I offer soul healing sessions where we can focus on learning more about your own breathing rhythm, how to breathe consciously into the abdomen and then moving onto practicing different breathing techniques and their benefits and when to utilise them tailored specific to your own needs.
With love and blessings