My morning breathwork practice [VIDEO]

Ever wish you could experience the calm and balance that comes from a good yoga class (or good therapy session!) in more moments of your life?

You can through meditation and breathwork.

Most people have heard of meditation. It's gotten pretty popular in the recent years as more and more celebrities and big executives reveal that they meditate on a daily basis. Due to it's popularity, meditation has also become more accessible - you don't have to go to a yoga studio to meditate, you can learn and practice in the comfort of your own home with apps like Headspace and Calm. 

Today I want to share a little more about meditation's lesser known cousin: breathwork.

You could totally say that breathwork is a meditation, and that meditation involves breathwork. The two are certainly connected. Today I'm sharing some specific techniques that fall more under the "breathwork" category and are less well known than long, deep and even breathing that's taught alongside most meditation.

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I've been practicing and teaching different breathing techniques for the last few years, but it's only within the last year that I've committed to exploring and owning more of these techniques, mainly through my studies of Katonah yoga (more on that another time!).

Your breath is a powerful tool that you can tap into at any time - in the middle of a stressful meeting, on a packed subway car (or in the middle of a bumper to bumper traffic), when your child (or best friend or partner) is having a meltdown. You don't need to make an appointment with your breath - it's with you wherever you go, and you can practice using it almost without anyone noticing.

Personally, I'm most interested in using breathwork techniques to connect with my body and intuition, and to regulate my mood and energy. There are certain breathing techniques that will chill you out and others that can fire you up. In goes beyond that though:

In their 2012 book, The Healing Power of the Breath, doctors Richard P. Brown and Patricia L. Gerbarg wrote: “Studies are revealing that, by changing the patterns of breathing, it is possible to restore balance to the stress response systems, calm an agitated mind, relieve symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), improve physical health and endurance, elevate performance, and enhance relationships.”

WOW.

Breathwork is inherently a part of most meditation and yoga practices, but it can also be practiced on it's own. I recently participated in a yoga training where we did a full 1 hour breathwork class, which was simultaneously one of the hardest and most amazing things I've ever experienced.

From this training I was inspired (ha ha get it???) to add a more formal breathwork practice to my morning routine, which is what I'm sharing with you today. Even on the days when I'm tired, or don't have time for a full yoga sequence, I do a few minutes of breathwork and I immediately feel better - more grounded, more energized and more in ME.

Watch the video below to experience this practice yourself!

As with a meditation or yoga practice, consistency is key. While you will almost certainly feel something after doing breathwork once, the power comes from making it a part of your regular routine.

Leave a comment below with ONE WORD explaining how you felt during or after trying this breathwork routine. And then challenge yourself - can you do this once a week? A few times a week? The magic of the practice truly comes out with repetition.

Simple stress management techniques

The topic of easy stress management came up in nearly all of my health coaching sessions last week, and I can understand why. We are nearing the end of the summer (I know, I don’t want to admit it either!) and work obligations are ramping back up.  I’ve felt this energy too: even though I’ve been away from the hustle and bustle of New York City, I’ve had lots of emails and people reaching out to plan fall events and workshops.

No matter what you got going on this time of year, here are my top tools for stopping stress in its tracks. You can even do most all of these in your office, without getting strange looks from your co-workers ;)

  • Get away from your desk - Go for a walk or go to the bathroom or go fill up your water bottle (you keep a water bottle at your desk, right???). Whatever you do, just get up from your desk. The act of taking yourself out of the environment where stress takes place can help it dissipate, plus the movement will help relive physical tension that has built up in your body.
  • Focus on your breathing - I’ve shared this breathing technique with you all before and it’s my favorite stress-buster because you can do it literally anywhere. Breathing in this way activates your para-sympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest function), physically calming you down.
  • Visualize your happy place - Okay, I’m about to get a little woo woo on you but trust me on this one because it works: Close your eyes and visualize your happy place. Feel what it feels like to be in that place. For me that’s reading on the beach in Maine, sun shining on my skin, salty sea breeze blowing through my hair, no plans or obligations for the rest of the day. My body is relaxed, my face is at ease. If you know you hold tension in a specific part of your body (brow, jaw, shoulders, stomach, etc), focus on softening that area as you build your visualization. Your mind and your body are connected - when you relax the body, the mind will follow. 

Now I want to hear from you - which of these tools will you try out this week? Or maybe you have another technique that you use to stop stress in the moment? Share with us all in the comments below!