May 3, 2023
Breathe Easy: Unleashing The Superpower Within You!
By: Carly P. BASc
Take a deep breath and unlock a superpower that’s been right under your nose all along! This built-in technique can calm your nervous system, reduce your stress AND help boost your immune system. (1) The best part - it's as easy as inhaling and exhaling - it’s breathwork! We take approximately 20,000 breaths every day but rarely do we stop to think about the quality of each breath we take and how it can change our lives. (2) Learning to breathe better can lower blood pressure, improve gut health, reduce the feeling of stress and more. Breathwork and meditation can transform your life entirely.
The Benefits of Breathing
Reduces anxiety - when you take the time to practice slow and conscious breathing, your body will send messages to your brain that all is okay. Your heart rate will slow and additionally, you will feel less physical symptoms of stress. (1)
You will feel energized - and in a better mood! (3)
Boosts your immune system
Your skin will glow - breathwork reduces inflammation in the body and slows the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. It also improves the body’s lymphatic system which boosts cell regeneration and helps provide clearer skin. (4)
Better ability to focus
It’s practical - breathwork is something you can practice anywhere anytime and reap the benefits immediately. (1)
Studies done by Boston University and the Medical University of South Carolina both found that daily yoga and meditation had positive impacts on symptoms of depression and the immune system. The study at the Medical University of South Carolina took two different groups of people. One group was to read for 20 minutes a day and the other group was to practice breathing for 20 minutes a day. Their study determined that the group that practiced daily breathing exercises had significantly lower inflammatory markers in their saliva by the end of the trial. (1,5)
How it Works
The way you breathe and the quality of your breath impacts many different aspects of the mind and body. From your blood pressure, to your mental health, to your skin - very little goes unimpacted. Our breathing can be split into two types - voluntary and involuntary:
Respiration - the involuntary breaths we take throughout the day are part of the autonomic nervous system. Similar to the digestive system or the heart beating, it happens without thinking about it. (6) Often our respiration breaths are fast and shallow. This type of breath delivers less oxygen throughout the body and can cause our brain to go into fight-or-flight mode.
Breathwork - the practice of controlled conscious breathing or belly breathing. It involves staying focused and practicing long inhales, exhales and pauses. There are multiple different exercises and methods of breathwork. It’s important to find one that works best and feels comfortable to you.
When you understand the mechanics and power of each breath you take, you are able to control multiple parts of your body. Slower deeper breaths will lower your heart rate, balance blood pressure and so much more. (6) There are many different types of breathwork practices that you can try. It is recommended to try multiple different forms of meditation and breathwork to see what fits you the best. Not all breathwork exercises are safe for everyone, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions you should consult your doctor before practicing different methods.
Here are just a few of MANY different breathwork techniques:
Diaphragmatic Breathing - also known as belly breathing, involves engaging your diaphragm while breathing. If you place one hand on your chest and one on your belly, you will feel your belly expand and contract with each controlled breath. (7)
Pursed Lips Breathing - breathing slowly and purposefully through pursed lips. (8)
Box Breathing - or 4-4-4-4 breathing - used by Navy Seals. You breathe out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and repeat the process for about 5 minutes. (9)
4-7-8 Breathing - we deeply value this method, by Dr. Andrew Weil, as it relaxes the nervous system and calms the mind. It only occupies a few minutes of your time and it can be done by anyone.
There are four steps to the 4-7-8 breathing method:
1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound
2. Close your lips and inhale silently through your nose for four counts
3. Hold your breath for seven counts
4. Make another whooshing exhale from your mouth for eight seconds
These are just a few of the many breathwork exercises we offer on our minder app. Check out our full blog on 4-7-8 breathing: https://www.obvus.me/pages/blogs-478-breathing. From meditation to physical activity, harness the power of the breath to see what you’re truly capable of.
Many of us are looking for all natural and powerful ways to improve our health and it doesn’t get more natural than this. Remember, breathing is not just a biological function, it’s your secret weapon and it’s with us from the first moments of our life until the last. If a person lives to be 80, they will take nearly half a billion breaths. (2) It’s inspiring the power we have by just tuning into our breath and our bodies and taking control of it. So next time you’re feeling powerless, take a deep breath and tap into your superpower!