Incorporating breath work into our daily routine might seem like a strange thing to strive for. We breathe naturally everyday – why do we have to park time aside in our already busy schedules to breathe? This is true – we inhale and exhale without even thinking about it and we take around 20,000 breaths a day. The issue is, the majority of us no longer breathe correctly or to our full capacity. This is due to various factors such as poor posture, long periods of sitting down and stress.
Taking deeper breaths has many benefits and so making a breathing practice a key part of your day or week, just as you would a visit to the gym or a Yoga class, can be hugely beneficial. “But, my to-do list is already so long” – we hear you, adding something else to our busy lives isn’t ideal, so here are some tips on how to add a breathing practice into your day seamlessly and without stress.
Why is the breath important?
Firstly, let’s explore the why. Without enough oxygen we can:
- Feel fatigued
- Experience elevated cortisol which in turn can cause weight gain, mood swings and trouble sleeping
- Find it hard to focus
- Lower the strength of our immune system
- Find it hard to relax and wind down
- Be at a higher risk of respiratory illness
- Be at risk of lung disease
- Experience high stress levels
Tips to find a breathing practice that you can stick with
Routine is of the essence
Try to focus on your breathing at the same time each day, whether that’s as soon as you open your eyes in the morning, right before bed or when you’ve made your daily cup of coffee. In turning to your breath at the same time each day, breath work will become both an established part of your daily routine and second nature.
Breathe Little and often
Don’t over-do it. Park 5 or 10 minutes each day for this practice, you don’t have to sit for hours on end!
Set a reminder in your calendar
Block out ten minutes in your email calendar at the same time each day. This will ensure that no pesky meetings get booked in at the time you plan to practice, and the reminder pop up will nudge you to step away and take your deeper breaths. You could also set an alarm on your phone to prompt you into action.
Take a break, have a breathe
Do your breathing practices whilst you do something else. For example, every time you make a cup of tea, every time you are in the car or every time you take a shower or a bath. In this scenario you aren’t actually creating any extra work for yourself – perfect!
Breathing exercise to try:
Here’s a breathing technique, that you only need to do for 5 or 10 minutes, to help you feel more calm, energised and deliver you the beautiful fresh oxygen that your body needs.
- Lie down on your back or find a comfortable seat
- Let your chest open naturally, draw your shoulders away from your eats, place one hand on your belly and the other hand on the centre of your chest
- Inhale slowly. Focus on your abdomen inflating up and pressing against your hand. The other hand on your chest should stay still. Inhale for 4 counts
- Exhale smoothly and feel the pressure on the hand over your abdomen decrease, your belly deflates. Exhale for 6 counts
Take a few deep breaths
Even if it feels hard at first, try to persevere and you’ll really enjoy the benefits of incorporating a breathing practice into your day. Also be open to changing it up, if one technique isn’t working for you, or doesn’t fit with your schedule, then try something different.
Finally, why not take one lovely, nourishing deep inhale now, and a releasing exhalation from the mouth. There you go, you’ve already started!