The term ‘take a breath’ is often thrown around in casual conversation, but how often do we actually practice what we preach? Finding time amongst the constant trickle of emails, shrilling sounds of social media notifications and the many career and life goals to work towards – we can sometimes forget to take a breather and collect our thoughts.
Yes, we breathe constantly, to stay alive, but mindfully doing breathwork is totally different and can bring incredible health benefits. As a twenty-something, I sought to find out more.
Instead of starting my ‘New Year, New Me’ campaign in 2019, I decided to get on the front foot and try out this breathing challenge that an awesome friend of mine is coaching , and I can admittedly say I was shocked with the results.
Catching my breath.
Something that I’ve long struggled with (as do many of my friends) is finding the time to take a breath and relax. Living in a world where we are constantly connected can make it harder for us to really connect with ourselves practice mindfulness. As part of the 21-day , I learned to do just that – starting my practice with some incredible lessons from Nicole Rager – the master of breathing.
At first, I felt a little silly ‘just breathing’ but then I noticed a number of positive changes. So I continued with a big deep breath. (Did you just do it with me?!)
I practiced my breathwork each morning for thirty repetitions, on an empty stomach, and the first thing I noticed was my much calmer demeanor… goodbye morning anxiety! Plus I was way more focused throughout the day, not relying on multiple caffeine hits to get me through my work.
Wim’s practice details the incredible effects breathing can have on our body, namely with our mind, circulation, and alkalinity – and he wasn’t lying. These are just some of the benefits I enjoyed from the breathwork during the 21-Day Masterclass.
1. Improved Alkalinity
If, like me before this practice, you’re familiar with what alkalinity is – it’s basically the biological balance in our bodies. What we consume can have a huge impact on the internal pH of our bodies, and sometimes our body has to grapple with the substances we feed it to bring us back into balance. As we swing between states of acidity and alkalinity, it can cause our body to manifest:
- Chronic Fatigue
• Weight Gain
• Brain Fog
As a mild sufferer from the symptoms mentioned in the above, I was pleasantly surprised with the results of the breathing exercises that effectively enabled me to swing my body back into a state of alkaline.
2. Improved Circulation
After several days of practice, I immediately noticed increased connectivity between my mind and body. By practicing breathing exercises, you are allowing your muscles to relax, dilating your blood vessels and improving circulation whilst also lowering your blood pressure. Allowing yourself to shut off the outside world in this state can also trigger the release of endorphins which can relieve pain and keep you in a happy, healthy state – WIN.
3. Decreased Stress
What you might not be surprised to hear is that deep breathing decreases stress. When we become stressed, our brain releases cortisol the “stress hormone”. Allowing ourselves the time to take a breath, relax and re-evaluate, we can slow our heart rate which allows more oxygen to enter our bloodstream – ultimately allowing us to relax and alleviate stress.
4. Improved Energy
One thing I can always use more of is energy. Keeping up with the daily grind, sleep can sometimes fall by the wayside. One of the best benefits I’ve noticed with the breathwork challenge is the increased energy I’ve had throughout the day. This is due to the increased amount of oxygen in the blood that assists our body to function better and longer – whilst also improving stamina.
5. Better Sleep
What also attributed to my increased energy levels was the quality of sleep I was getting. Slow, deep breathing actually helps the body override the sympathetic system (the control panel for your flight-or-fight response) and allows our parasympathetic system to take the wheel and let us relax. This can strongly influence the physiology and thought processes that allowed me to have a better-quality rest.
6. Immune Boosting
When our body is fully oxygenated, it carries and absorbs nutrients and vitamins more efficiently – which is what essentially provides our immune system the tools it needs to fight infection. During my 21-day challenge, I not only noticed increased energy but improved immunity; any sluggish feeling I had I was able to shake off after my exercise.
Follow this link for the best breathing challenge ! (day1)