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Breathing can be both automatic and intentional. It is quite arguably one of the most important things that sustain our survival. However, most people neglect to acknowledge the powerful benefits of conscious, deep breathing. Deep breathing, or breathwork, helps to relieve muscle pain and tension, making it an effective method to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Learning the extensive benefits of conscious breathing and breathwork can help to improve your recovery experience while enhancing your overall quality of life. 

What Is Breathwork?

Breathwork is a general term that refers to any kind of breathing exercise or technique. Breathwork is used for a variety of different reasons, mostly to improve mental, physical, or spiritual elements of health and well-being. Slow, intentional breathing elicits the body’s relaxation response, which helps to restore and enable natural healing. Breathwork highlights the importance of tuning into the present moment as fully as you possibly can. 

Why Is Breathwork Powerful?

Breathing is important in general not only because it sustains our survival, but also because it cycles out toxins from our body through the release of carbon dioxide. When we breathe deeply, the body releases feel-good hormones that act as natural pain killers which help to promote better regulation of blood flow. 

Breathwork is powerful also because it offers physical support during challenging times. Our lungs and mind are deeply connected. When you consciously breathe deeply, messages are sent to the brain, telling it to calm down and relax. The brain then sends these messages outward to the rest of the body. 

Breathwork helps to lift mental fog as well as releases mental, emotional, and physical blocks in the mind and body. There are many breathing therapy techniques used specifically to foster clarity in the mind to free it from instances of past trauma or deeply ingrained emotions such as depression, anxiety, anger, or grief. 

While breathwork alleviates and reduces negative distress and pain, it also creates new space inside the body for feelings of clarity and connection. Breathwork is one essential component of many mindfulness practices that help bring openness, love, and gratitude into anyone’s life. 

Breathing Techniques For Relaxation

Although there are specific breathing techniques suggested when you experience different symptoms of distress, conscious breathing of any kind can help to restore healing to the brain and body. Next to there being different types of breathing, there are also exercises that target different muscles in the abdominal region. It is best to start with intermediate breathing exercises before you try more advanced ones, as certain breathing styles can initiate lightheadedness or dizziness if executed without being properly taught. 

Here, we offer two simple and easy breathing exercises to help kickstart your mindfulness journey. For all of the following exercises, give yourself a safe and quiet space to practice. 

#1. Deep, Conscious Breathing

We have been discussing the importance of taking deep and conscious breaths throughout your day, but how exactly do you do it? By focusing on achieving full and cleansing breaths you can use deep breathing as a powerful and valuable relaxation technique in and of itself. It is the easiest breathing technique to learn, and it can be accomplished anywhere, at any time. Deep breathing can also be combined with other forms of therapy, such as aromatherapy or music therapy, to complement treatment. 

To start, find a comfortable position to sit or lay in. If you choose to sit, focus on your posture. Place one hand on the heart of your chest, while placing the other on your stomach. Breath in through your nose, while feeling the belly of your chest rise. The hand that remains on your chest should not experience movement. 

At the top of your breath, hold for a moment, and then begin to exhale through your mouth while pushing out as much air as you can. Contract your abdominal muscles while doing so. Again, the hand on your chest should not move. 

Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Count slowly. Give yourself enough time in your breathing space so that you can experience refreshing results. 

#2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

The second most popular kind of breathing technique is progressive muscle relaxation. With regular practice, this technique will effectively relieve tension in the body. Choose to begin at either the top of your head or the tips of your toes. 

For this example, we will begin at our toes. When you are ready, tense the muscles in the very tips of your toes and try to hold for a count between 3-8 seconds. Breathe deeply here. After you’ve reached your chosen time to stay tense, release the muscles in your tippy toes. Embrace this feeling of relaxation for a moment, continuing to breathe slowly. 

Shift your attention to your foot at large, and perhaps your ankle. Contract these muscles, hold for the same amount of time as you previously tensed your toes, and release. Continue to breathe. Move slowly up through your leg muscles and into your hips, contracting and relaxing each muscle group. You will find yourself experiencing deep moments of relaxation, especially after you have reached your forehead.

Breathing is a automatic process in our body that helps to sustain our survival. Although we understand the importance of oxygen in keeping our bodies healthy, breathing also helps to filter out different toxins within our body. Breathing is powerful because it helps to release deep symptoms of physical pain and mental distress, while creating room to accept more positive emotions and experiences of openness, love, and gratitude. West Coast Recovery Centers believes in the importance of holistic treatment modalities when trying to achieve long-term recovery from mental health conditions or substance use. We offer traditional therapy techniques alongside our holistic options, giving you the opportunity to find therapy techniques that work the best for your individualized care. We want to empower you to find the best version of yourself, while using healthy coping mechanisms, such as breathwork, to help you stay grounded in the present moment. For more information, call us today at (760) 492-6509

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