I love the idea of Wellness Wednesdays with tips for transforming our mind-body connection. It’s such a great way to center our week and remind ourselves that wellness really is at the core of everything we do in life.
Focus, energy, health, strength, and longevity are the mental and physical factors that enable us to do our work, take care of our families, and accomplish our goals. And when we take a moment each week to mindfully explore and embrace new ways that we can take better care of ourselves, we are also able to take better care of our loved ones.
That’s key, because without self-care, we can’t give our best to those who are counting on us. You know that airline safety lecture about securing your own mask before attempting to assist anyone else with theirs? Well, this week, we are going to take advice very literally. So, let’s take a deep breath and dive right in!
Breathwork is one of my favorite ways to connect with my body and mind, and I absolutely believe that it has the power to change your life in ways you would never even imagine. Breath is life. Literally. When we slow down… and pay attention… and listen… our inner voice becomes clearer. In fact, I am such a big believer in breathwork that not only do I incorporate it into many of my own workout sessions, but I also design retreats with a special focus on breathwork.
Even though breathwork has become more popular recently, its origins actually extend back thousands of years. Many of us are familiar with breathwork as a component of our yoga practice, but it has historically existed as a separate practice as well. I incorporate it in one form or another in my life every single day.
Ultimately, breathwork is simply a way of consciously controlling our breathing pattern in order to improve our mental and physical health. Think of it like this: when we are overwhelmed, our autonomic nervous system responds accordingly, releasing stress hormones, raising our blood pressure, causing us to breathe faster (and less deeply), and decreasing feel-good hormones.
Breathwork impacts those same central nervous system processes, but from the opposite end. By breathing more slowly and deeply, we calm our bodies and signal to our brains that it is okay to relax and return to normal. It’s like taking our foot off the gas so that we can slowly and safely come to a full stop.
With each breath in, we receive oxygen and positivity, and with each breath out, we release toxins and stress. I find that breathwork leaves me feeling both relaxed and energized at the same time. That may sound strange or contradictory, but it is kind of like taking a much needed nap that leaves you feeling so rested and refreshed that you are ready to take on the world! You’ll definitely understand when you experience it for yourself.
With breathwork, the important thing is to slow down and take long, deep breaths in. You should feel your lungs filling to capacity and pushing out your tummy. Then, when you breathe out, you should feel the air slowly emptying from your tummy and up through your chest like toothpaste being squeezed out from its tube.
I like to incorporate meaningful mantras that reflect my intentions to breathe in love and light… goodness and gratitude… positivity and possibility. On the breath out, I describe my body expelling stress, toxins, and negativity. Remember, our minds hear what we say. And they believe us.
There are so many reasons to practice breathwork – and not just on Wellness Wednesdays! It can help increase our focus and concentration. It can help us reduce our stress and anxiety, I can help us facilitate inner joy and peace. It can help us heal our trauma and grief. It can help us improve our cardiovascular and digestive health. It can help us boost our immunity and self-esteem. I can even help us manage chronic pain. It’s actually amazing what our bodies can do when we just give them what they need.
In fact, breathwork has been shown to improve our mental, physical, and spiritual health in a myriad of important and surprising ways. Perhaps that’s why this Wellness Wednesday tip has survived as a wellness practice around the world for millennia.
Try incorporating ten minutes of mindful breathwork into your day, either at a specific time or when you catch yourself feeling overwhelmed by stress and demands. You’ll be so glad that you did.