Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

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When I ask some the top holistic health experts in the world what the most important thing a person could do for their health is, they tell me they would teach people intentional breathing.

That’s a pretty powerful statement.

People come to me asking what they can take for their hormonal or digestive problems and I just want to scream from the rooftops – BREATHE & BELIEVE. Meaning, use your breath and mind to make profound biochemical changes in your body.

It takes more work than popping a pill in your mouth, but it’s also 100x more powerful in terms of what it does to heal your body.

People like Wim Hof have used breathing techniques to climb Mt. Everest in shorts and sit for 1 hour and 52 minutes in ice, while maintaining his core temperature.  I am not saying you should go run a marathon above the Arctic circle wearing only shorts or hold your breath with ease for over six minutes while your entire body is submerged under freezing water (which he also did), but He shows us that we are far more capable of doing things we never imagined.

The mind, breath, and belief are the most powerful forces you have access to. It’s time to use them to do miraculous things. 

Why Start a Breathing Practice

1. Control Your Mind

There is a reason Navy Seals, the most elite group of warriors depend on breathing practices, because of what they do to your mind and body.

Breathing is interesting because it is the only thing you can do consciously and subconsciously.

When we choose to consciously control our breath, we are increasing our heart rate variability. With an increase in heart rate variability, we are more in control of our reactions to what life throws at us each day.

As the famous Victor Frankel says there is a space between stimulus and response. Meaning, anytime we get triggered (by your spouse, kids, work, traffic) there is a split second where we choose how we are going to respond.

I know sometimes it may not seem that way as you begin screaming and saying things you wish you hadn’t almost like you had no control, but that’s just because your ability to PAUSE before RESPONSE is just not a habit. . . yet.

When you are faced with an intense situation and you take 1 minute to breathe deep, something incredible happens. The part of your brain that is responsible for self-control and creative thinking gets turned on, allowing you to choose your RESPONSE rather than REACT subconsciously.

Your strong emotions dissipate and you can think clearly, have the right words, and make the world a better place.

If you can make pausing and breathing before reacting a habit, your life will change.

Basically, breathing will make you a better person to be around;)

2. Process Your Emotions

Breathing is like the digestive system for your emotions.

Your breathe moves the energy of that emotion through your body instead of getting stuck and causing problems.

We have an intuitive understanding that the breath can regulate our mind and emotions. Most of us have either told others or been told ourselves to “take a deep breath” when things got challenging. Because breathing happens automatically, many of us don’t give the breath as much attention as it deserves nor have we learned to harness its full potential to calm our minds.

One of the reasons why breathing can change how we feel is that emotions and breathing are closely connected. Negative emotions create short breathing patterns while positive emotions create long breathing patterns.

This means we can change how we feel using our breath! Given the fact that it is so difficult to change one’s emotions using thoughts alone – try “talking yourself out of” intense anger or anxiety – , learning to use the breath becomes a very powerful tool.

Top executives, athletes, and healers have all discovered the power of breath and how to use it to create world-changing days.

Therapeutic drug treatments and talk therapy are finding to have a small impact compared to breathing practices with those experiencing anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

After participating in a 6-day workshop, veterans who said they had felt “dead” since returning from Iraq said they felt alive again. 2 years later, they are spokespeople for the program, volunteering to encourage other veterans to learn to breathe again.

3. Heal Your Body

Did you know that 70% of the toxins inside of your body are removed through the lungs?

Some groundbreaking research is coming out showing how we can learn to consciously control our immune system!

Our cells primary source of fuel is oxygen. When we breathe deeply for a period of time, oxygen is circulated through the body creating a profound healing effect.

I would argue that up to 90% of any disease or imbalance is caused by stess. More specifically, your body being in a sympathetic instead of parasympathetic state more often. When you are in a sympathetic state, your immune, hormonal, and digestive system is shut off! Those three systems control your entire health. If they are on, your body heals on its own.

When you choose to breathe slowly and deeply, you put your body into a parasympathetic state, where your hormone, immune, and digestive track all get kicked into high gear to get your body in balance.

How amazing is it that God gave us a way to intentionally turn on our healing system at will?

If you are struggling with any health issue right now, intentionally breathe to put yourself into a parasympathetic state 3x a day for 3 minutes. This alone will create profound healing.

Breathing is like a wonder drug that can heal and make you feel amazing, but nobody is practicing it every day…

Breathing Practices to for Anxiety and Energy

I like to use different breathing practices for different outcomes, here are a few of my favorite to date.

Alternate Nostril Breathing To Relieve Stress and Anxiety

You can use this anytime you notice yourself feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or full of anxiety. You can do it before bed to calm down before you sleep. It can relieve a headache, relax that tightness in your stomach and even prevent a panic attack.

Benefits:

  • Balance to both the right and left hemispheres of the brain
  • Reduces of anxiety and stress
  • Calms the Nervous System
  • Lowered heart rate to relieve tension
  • Revitalization of a tired mind and body
  • Regulation of the cooling and warming cycles of the body

How to:

  1. You use the thumb and ring finger of one hand (usually your dominant hand) to gently block off each nostril so you are inhaling and exhaling through one nostril at a time.
  2. Throughout this practice you inhale and exhale through your nose only.
  3. Begin by gently blocking your right nostril.
  4. Inhale through your left nostril.
  5. Hold your breath as you close off your left nostril.
  6. Exhale through your right nostril.
  7. Inhale through your right nostril.
  8. Seal the right nostril.
  9. Exhale through the left nostril.
  10. Inhale through the left nostril.
  11. Seal the left nostril.
  12. Exhale through the right nostril.

Repeat this pattern for one or two minutes.

Coherence Breathing to Connect with God and Get into a Healing State

“Coherence” is a term used by researchers to describe a highly efficient psycho-physiological state in which your nervous system, cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems are working together efficiently and harmoniously.

I have found getting into a state of coherence is the most powerful state to connect to God in. It allows me to hear and experience Him more clearly and powerfully.

I like to do this practice right before I pray, in the morning and at night.

This one is powerful, on multiple levels.

Benefits:

  • When you are in a state of coherence, the body begins to heal, you are more creative, you have more self-control, and you can see things you may not have been able to before.
  • Calms the nervous system and puts your body into a healing state.
  • It energetically puts you into a powerful state so you are radiating this powerful energy to everyone around you.
  • It sets the Reticular Activating System in your Brain (learn about the RAS here) so you will see solutions to your problems and the good in your life.

How T0:

  1. Heart Focus: Focus your attention in the area of your heart, in the center of your chest.
  2. Heart Breathing: As you focus on the area of your heart, imagine your breath flowing in and out through that area.
  3. Heart Feeling: As you continue to breathe through the area of your heart, recall a positive feeling, a time when you felt good inside, and try to re-experience it. It could be feeling appreciation for the good things in your life, or the love and care you feel for someone.
  4. Sit in the feeling and continuly to breathe slowly for 2-5 minutes.

Breath of Fire for Focus and Energy

Any Tony Robbins fans out there? Then you will know this one.

This is the practice he does and teaches thousands of people to do every morning.

Benefits:

  • Releases toxins and deposits from the lungs, mucous linings, blood vessels, and other cells.
  • Expands the lung capacity and increases vital strength.
  • Strengthens the nervous system to resist stress.
  • Repairs the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
  • Increases physical endurance and prepares you to act effectively.
  • Adjusts the subtle psycho-electromagnetic field of the aura so that the blood becomes energized.
  • Increases oxygen delivery to the brain, facilitating a focused, intelligent, and neutral state of mind.

How To:

  • Begin by sitting straight with your eyes closed.
  • Inhale deeply through your nostrils while simultaneously lifting your arms in a shoulder press motion
  • Exhale forcefully through your nostrils while bringing your arms back to your body, palms up.
  • Perform the breaths in quick succession.
  • Do 3 sets of 30 with a break in between each set to
    • Focus on what you are grateful for
    • Visualize your future

Counting Breath for Mental Training and Focus

If you want to stand out and be successful in the 21st century, the biggest skill you can have is to put your attention where you want, when you want, for how long you want.

It’s actually really hard. . . try it;)

If you think about it, most of our problems are caused because we are unconsciously focusing on the wrong things (what we don’t like about the world, ourselves, the people around us, lack, our symptoms, and problems.)

Mediation and focusing on your breathing is like lifting weights for your mind. Every time your mind wanders and you bring it back to your breathing, it’s like doing a rep.

When you can go longer and longer without your mind wandering, you are stepping into your superpower that will affect every aspect of your life.

Benefits

  • Calms the nervous system
  • Puts your body into a healing state
  • Increases your ability to put your attention where you want, when you want, for how long you want.
  • Strengths your mental capacity so you are less reactive and more calm and creative.

How to

  • Sit up straight
  • Put your hands on your ribs
  • Inhale for a count of 4, allowing your ribs to fully expand
  • Hold for 2
  • Exhale for a count of 8
  • Repeat for 3-10 minutes

You can inhale and exhale to whatever count you want, just make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale. You can also box breath by inhaling for a count of 4 holding for a count of 4 and exhaling for a count of 4.

How to Incorporate Breathing in Your Everyday Life

If you want to heal your body, get more energy, improve your mood, get rid of anxiety, and prime your body to be able to do impossible tasks – it’s time to start a breathing practice.

  • Do a short breathing practice first thing in the morning – I like to while sitting in front of my JOOVV healing light
  • Make it a habit to breathe before you respond when you are triggered
  • Take any chance you get to breathe – standing in line, driving, showering, cooking, looking at Instagram. . .
  • Take 6 deeps breathes before you eat.
  • Incorporating essential oils with breathing is incredibly powerful. Which essential oil company is best? You may be surprised. . . 
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