Our breath is our lifeforce. Although breathing is an unconscious process, it is possible to consciously tune in to your breath and manipulate it to alter your emotional and physical well-being.
It’s very common to have uneven breathing, meaning, the inhalation and exhalation are different lengths. Why is this? Because we live in a world that frequently activates our fight or flight with constant stress, anxiety, and worry. Moreover, we are never taught how to breathe “properly”.
To fix this, start by just breathing naturally, and observe the length of your inhale versus your exhale. From here, you can start to consciously change the lengths of your inhales and exhales. Try studying your exhalation, and if it is short, breathe deeper. You will notice what a sense of relief a full, intentional exhale creates within the body.
The easiest way to balance the breath is by performing breathwork. This is called Pranayama, which is the act of fine-tuning the breath to strengthen both the breath and one’s energy levels.
To get started, try these breathwork techniques:
Box Breathing (i.e. Sama Vritti):
Step 1: Inhale for 4 counts
Step 2: Hold the breath for 4 counts
Step 3: Exhale for 4 counts
Alternate Nostril Breathing (i.e. Nadi Shodhana):
Step 1: Hold your pointer and middle finger to the space in between your eyes (i.e. your third eye). Place your thumb next to your right nostril and your right finger next to your left nostril.
Step 2: Close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale deeply through your left nostril.
Step 3: Close your left nostril and open the right. Exhale out of your right nostril.
Step 4. Repeat by now inhaling through your right and exhaling through your left nostril (you will exhale then inhale on the same nostril.)
Breathwork techniques can help to relieve stress and anxiety, increase mindfulness, dispel toxins from the body, balance our right and left brain hemispheres, rejuvenate the nervous system, and increase focus. By consciously engaging your mind when breathing, you become tuned in to how your body is feeling. This re-establishes the mind-body-spirit connection. Our breath no longer feels like an unconscious, separate process from ourselves. On a subconscious level, the breath becomes more refined, and we learn how to better control it in times of distress.