The power of breath
My work is all about helping you learn how to move from a negative state to a positive one. Whether you are feeling anxious, fearful, worried, overwhelmed or even just stuck, I aim to teach tools and techniques that you can use quickly and easily on your own. Once you feel a sense of empowerment over your emotions then it becomes much easier to create the positive changes that you need.
There is one thing that always plays a key role in this, whatever your end goal: breath. Breathing is the easiest and fastest way to change your state - and you already know how to do it!
Here are three simple ways I encourage clients to incorporate breathwork into their lives. Give these a go and notice the difference they make!
This is great for helping you feel centred and calm. Also known as the 6-6 breath, you breathe in through your nose for 6 and out for 6. Simple as that! I encourage you to practice this breath several times a day as a way of teaching yourself how to get into a really positive, balanced state. Some people like to imagine a light travelling up and down their spine as they breathe in and out, or picture the spine as a zip opening and closing. The 6-6 breath is also great at bedtime, when you want to switch off and get to sleep!
By extending your exhales you stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. If you experience sudden anxiety or fear, this breath pattern will take you out of the flight or fight response. Simply breathe in for the count of 7 and out for 11, and keep going for at least a couple of minutes. If 7/11 is too much for you, you could try 5/7 - or whatever feels more comfortable. The important thing is to fully extend the exhale. Counting in your head as you breathe really helps - it makes it much harder for the brain to focus on the thought that caused the original feeling.
Sometimes known as the Sniff and Sigh, this is a great stress-busting technique. All you do is take two very short sniffs in through your nose, and then release them through your mouth in a much longer exhale. You may notice small children doing this when they are calming down after a period of crying. It's a natural, in-built response that we all have. Animals do it, too - watch a dog settling down for a snooze and you might witness the same kind of sniff and sigh as it makes itself comfortable. When we consciously do this it has the same effect. Just three of these after completing some 7-11 breaths will send a message to your brain that the initial panic or fear has passed, allowing you to let go of any residual stress.
It's easy to underestimate the power of our breath, but it's the key to releasing any negative emotion that you want to be free of. Breathing through the nose is especially important. Why? Well, when you think about it, it's really hard to panic if you're breathing through your nose, right? So to overcome those feelings, nose breathing is your friend.