AMALAwellness – Gentle Breathwork techniques- calm the nervous system & calm the mind ..

In class, we often cover gentle breathwork at the beginning and at the end of our Yoga and Meditation sessions. Gentle breathwork has an important effect on soothing the nervous system:

Our nervous system is out of balance when we feel stressed, depressed or anxious.

Our nervous system has two main branches:
1. Sympathetic – Fight or flight symptoms (Survival mode)

2. Parasympathetic – Resting/relaxed state

When we are feeling stressed, anxious or fearful, our body and nervous system operate in the sympathetic branch of the nervous system. This causes to body to release stress hormones such as cortisol, which, when released too often, takes a toll on the body both physically and mentally. Being in this over-active state makes our mind race and causes us to feel uncomfortable in our own bodies. Often, our heart rate increases and we feel we cannot switch off or relax.

On the converse, when we operate from the parasympathetic part of the nervous system, it over-rides the parasympathetic leaving us feeling more rested and calmer.

How can we function more from the Parasympathetic?

There are lots of ways to switch to the parasympathetic, such as having a calm environment and home life, balancing work life vs home life and practicing yoga and meditation. However, today we are going to look at a gentle breathwork exercise to practice. This can be done anywhere, anytime!

A gentle breathwork practice – Part One

  1. If you’re practicing at home, set up a safe space and environment where you will not be disturbed. Perhaps, burn your favourite incense, or light a candle (I always like to make a spiritual safe space before meditating or doing breathwork).
  2. Sit comfortably, perhaps on a cushion and focus on the breath.
  3. Focus on the breath as you inhale & exhale – observe the lungs and the ribcage, what is happening?
  4. Start to slow the breath down for a count of four as you inhale and exhale, perhaps elongating the exhale a little longer.
  5. Place your hand on your chest and complete 10-20 rounds breathing like this.
  6. Return to a normal breath, pause and reflect – how does the body and mind feel after this short exercise?

A gentle breathwork practice – Part Two

Four Part Box Breath

  1. Inhale for a count of four, from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.
  2. Retain the breath for a count of four.
  3. Exhale for a count of four, from the crown of the head to the base of the spine.
  4. Retain the breath for a count of four.
  5. Complete as many rounds as you feel comfortable doing, remembering this is your practice. Take normal breaths when needed then come back to the practice. Complete 3-4 rounds.
  6. Return to a normal breath, pause and observe. How does the body feel? How does the mind feel?

These short, gentle exercises can really help to switch the sympathetic nervous system off and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.

Do you practice breathwork? Did you give this practice a try? I’d love to hear your views and experiences.

Aimee x

AMALAwellness – Teesside run Gentle Yoga, Beginners Yoga and mindful meditation classes across Middlesbrough , Stockton and Redcar & Cleveland.

46 thoughts on “AMALAwellness – Gentle Breathwork techniques- calm the nervous system & calm the mind ..

  1. Yes we really need to do this every day for a peaceful mind. In this hectic life we are far away from peace and we are becoming mentally ill. Thanks for sharing this post👍

  2. Great tips on relaxing and finding your calmness through breathing. I like the idea of the Four Part Box breathing technique that you shared.

  3. I’m not so into it but it is something I’d like to try. Taking care of your sould is importanto. To follow. – Amalia

  4. I’m trying to take care of myself and my mind. This is going to help a lot to have more peaceful time and thinking. I do the breathwork to calm down and I can imagine the steps.

  5. Life can be stressful. Fortunately, we also have the power to deliberately change our own breathing. Scientific studies have shown that controlling your breath can help to manage stress and stress-related conditions.

  6. I do a one to two minutes breathwork when things get overwhelming at work. Just by simply closing my eyes and focus on my breath in the car before leaving work, visiting a park and go for a walk.

  7. I can’t emphasize enough how breathwork helps the body. I do Pilates and I have adopted breathwork even when I’m not doing my routine. It doesn’t just reduce stress and increase energy, it also helps improves sleep – it allows us to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. Thank you for these tips!

  8. This is a well written guide to work on this breathwork. It’s something I’m going to try during the work day when I could use a moment to myself

  9. Sometimes before bed I like to take a bit of time to do some stretches on the floor and a bit of breathing to just relax and unwind from the day! Great post.

  10. Thanks for the incredible tips and now that we are so stressed, it’s nice to have some techniques handy and for us to cool down when needed – Knycx Journeying

  11. So I am not the best when it comes to breathing techniques or yoga or even meditation. But I love the whole gentle breathwork practice. I especially love the 4 part box breath idea. I mean who cant stop, breath, and relax for a 4 count. Perhaps I need this to calm down myself and I can definitely see the benefits for those with nervous system issues.

  12. This is very timely. I need to learn to breathe well to help me relax. I sometimes get anxious and I feel like my breathing is not efficient.

  13. This is important for us to learn the breathing techniques, especially to cope with the stress. It will bring positive vibes.

    1. Another set of great tips from you. Breathwork is super important to help use find balance in our lives. I will try your techniques to find more balance in my life.

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