Are you breathing?
I know it seems like a ridiculous question because… of course, you are. But, how often are you aware of your breath. My guess is not very often…
Breathing is a vital part of life as it delivers oxygen to your bloodstream and removes carbon dioxide from the body. Because it is vital to life it’s an autonomic function – meaning that we breathe without consciously thinking about breathing. BUT when you spend time focusing on your breath and breathing intentionally it can shift your self-awareness.
Our Breathing is the only system in the body that is both completely automatic and also under our control. That is not an accident of nature, not a coincidence. That is an opportunity, an invitation, to take part in our own nature – our own evolution! – Dan Brulé
You may have heard of breathwork but what is it exactly?
Breathwork is the practice of manipulating your breathing rate and depth to bring awareness to your breath. Breathwork advocates report an increased mind-body connection, feelings of clarity, enhanced alertness, and emotional releases.
There are many different types of breathwork practices. Some practices are simple to do by yourself and others require a practitioner to teach you the sequence. I’ve utilized many breathwork practices like the simple practice outlined below to the yogic Pranayama, Kundalini, Wim Hof, and Numa Breathwork.
Last week I was fortunate enough to participate in a breathwork session with Trevor Yelich of Numa Breathwork. What I can tell you from that experience is that the act of conscious breath is remarkable. It is amazing how through breathwork you can have an experience that puts you directly in your body – feeling every part of your body vibrate at the cellular level. It really is like getting high on your own supply.
I believe that it is the body awareness that breathwork promotes which makes it an important tool in ending emotional eating. Because breathwork allows you to connect deeper to your body and witnessing the movement of breath you can make space to witness an emotion instead of reacting to it with food.
We’ve long known that breath changes in response to emotion: When people get panicky and anxious, their breath becomes shallow and rapid. - Sat Bir Singh Khalsa
Breathwork is your best intervention when it comes to stress eating. When we’re are under high periods of stress not only are releasing high levels of cortisol but we are running on our sympathetic nervous system (aka fight n’ flight). Fight and flight responses are typically associated with a quickened and shallow breath.
What I have found is that even 6 deep belly breaths have the ability to calm the nervous system and shift you into a state of calm. This is because through deep breathing you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system (aka your rest n’ digest mode) which slows down your heart rate and lowers blood pressure.