Tips shared by Dean Gladstone, Bondi Lifeguard, Global Breath Work Facilitator and founder of Power of the Breath, the leading educator in helping people understand and manage stress to improve health and performance.
Isn’t it funny how something as natural as breathing gets taken for granted? We invest hundreds to thousands of dollars into various treatments and products to help us feel our best, but in some cases if we try to improve what our body does naturally, such as breathing, we may find that that we get the results we are after.
Stress, anxiety and poor sleep are three key culprits that can have us feeling run down, lacking in energy and it can push us out of our “flow state” which is when we are feeling fully engaged, energised and focused on the activity that we are doing. A flow state essentially means that you are working at your peak performance, you are calm, you are enjoying the process and in order to do that you need to have control of your breath.
That is why taking control of your breath and practising breath work can change your life, as I am sure many of us have experienced that feeling of being manic, stressed and helpless. Harnessing the power of breath can help to change that.
Here are four powerful reasons why breath work will change your life.
Stress awareness and the mind to body connection
Whether you are manically trying to meet a deadline or you are just participating in a running race, any activity when you exert yourself mentally or physically will cause a stress response in your body. It is a very natural and healthy response but it should also only be temporary one. When we are in a state of stress for a prolonged period of time it can cause inflammation in the body and you may also find side effects such as feeling permanently anxious and run down.
That is why it is important to learn to transition stress that is no longer useful out of the body. By doing this we can calm out parasympathetic nervous system and allow it to get back to its base. We can easily use breath work as a tool to do this.
The key is to have a plan in place for when unnecessary stress and anxiety crops up so that you can get yourself back into your flow state. By identifying that you need to settle, stepping away from what is in front of you and taking a few minutes to practise some breath work, meditation or even light movement you give yourself the chance to retreat and recharge.
Being self aware enough to make these small changes can change the state of your mindset for the rest of the day.
Boost your energy naturally
Need to boost your energy for the day ahead? Try a fast breathing exercise such as a “Breath of fire” exercise.
How to practise the Breath of Fire:
- Sit comfortably on a cushion and place one hand on your belly.
- Take a deep breath in through the nose. Then push the breath powerfully out through the nose 10 times, increasing to 20 and then 30 over 3 rounds.
Concentrate on pushing the exhale out of your body and feel your stomach pull in with each breath. Don’t worry about the inhale.
This is an extremely effective exercise for when you want to flood your body with oxygen and improve your energy levels and focus, so put the coffee down and give this a go instead.
Improve your sleeping patterns
Have you ever woken up feeling really tired for no real reason with an extremely dry mouth? Do you snore? This is because you may be breathing through your mouth when you sleep instead of your nose and believe it or not, we should all be breathing through our nose to be breathing efficiently.
If you are breathing dysfunctionally during the day, odds are you are doing the same at night so it is good to practise good breathing techniques in the day time so you can aim to carry that on as you sleep. It is essential as without a good sleep it is hard to function and recent research also suggestions that we “download’ new information into different parts of our brain as we sleep, that will be disrupted if you are not sleeping soundly.
Here is a good breathing exercise to do before bed:
- Lay down comfortably, place a pillow under the knees.
- Place one hand on your belly and one on your heart.
- Breathe in nasally for a slow count of 4 and then release the breath through the nose for a count of 5 or 6.
- Repeat for 5 minutes.
Improve your posture
Did you know that if you have poor posture it can affect your breathing?
Your diaphragm is one of the main muscles used to help you breathe, if you are slouching and if your posture is poor it can disrupt the flow our that oxygen throughout the body. As a result, those who breathing dysfunctionally may find that they experience lower back pain, shoulder pain and possibly even digestive issues. By improving your breath work a lot of this can be improved, especially when it comes to digestion.
A great exercise to release nitric oxide from your body and to balance out both sides of the body and brain is to do some alternate nostril breathing.
How you do it is:
- Sit comfortably on a cushion. Relax the shoulders and rest your left hand on your lap.
- Using your right hand, place your forefinger and your middle finger between your brows. Your thumb will hover over your right nostril and your ring finger over your right nostril.
- Block your right nostril with your thumb and breathe in through your left.
- Then alternate and block your left nostril and release the breath through your right nostril.
- Repeat this for 1-2 mins
Check out Dean’s Breath Work podcasts, products, and events by visiting https://www.deanogladstone.com/