As we go through our daily activities, we don’t often consider our breath and how important it is to our overall health. Besides providing us with oxygen, our breath is imperative to our overall physical and mental health. While breathwork is practiced for a variety of reasons, it boasts plenty of mental health benefits.
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork refers to a specific type of meditation with special breathing techniques that enhances inner peace, improves our health, and gives room for personal transformation.
Breathwork is different from normal breathing because it focuses on active breathing and breath utilization. As part of the autonomic nervous system, we don’t have to consciously think about breathing on a regular basis. Breathwork puts our focus back to our breath so we can appreciate the process.
Why is Breathwork Important for Mental Health?
The benefits of breathwork are many and vary from one person from another. However, most people should be able to enjoy the following breathwork benefits:
- Releases sadness
- Minimizes stress
- Relieves anxiety
- Enhances creativity
- Helps you to develop new ideas
- Releases unprocessed emotions and access the wisdom that your body has to offer
- Brings peace of mind
3 Beginner Breathwork Techniques
For a proper breathwork session, start by finding a quiet and peaceful place with minimal distractions. When you’re ready, try the following breathing techniques:
1. The 4-7-8 Breath Technique
The 4-7-8 breath technique is recommended by Andrew Weil, M.D and has been proven to calm both the mind and body. It works by slowing your heart rate, bringing your consciousness to fit in the moment, and tones down the nervous system.
This breathwork technique is best suitable for people who are experiencing anger, insomnia, anxiety, or other overwhelming feelings.
The most popular way of going around this technique is by counting 4, 7, and 8 seconds as you breathe strategically. The method aims at emptying your lungs to give you the calmness that your body deserves.
Start by breathing in (using your nose) for 4 seconds then hold your breath for 7 seconds. Finally, use your mouth to exhale for 8 seconds then repeat the process at least 4 times.
When you breathe in, imagine how beautiful the world is. Think of soothing nature scenes, happy memories, or whatever inspires you. When holding your breath, imagine that your breath is spiraling throughout your body.
As you breathe out, imagine that you are releasing all the bad energy from your body.
2. The 4-4-4-4 Breath Technique
Also known as box breathing or square breathing, the 4-4-4-4- breath technique is suitable for slowing your heart rate and improving your concentration levels.
To do the 4-4-4-4 breath, release all the air from your chest then hold your breath for 4 seconds. The next 4 seconds should be spent breathing through your nose, hold your breath for another 4 seconds, again then finally use your nose to exhale for 4 seconds.
For the best results, repeat this process after 5 minutes.
3. The 5-5 Breath Technique
Also referred to as coherent breathing, the 5-5 breathwork technique is suitable for controlling your conscious and calming you down.
To do this, use 1 minute to breathe in for 4 seconds then take the next 4 seconds to remove air from your lungs. Repeat the process as you increase the seconds gradually. Do this for 5 minutes, which you can later increase to 20 minutes.
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