I have written about the power of the breath before, and still recommend the book 'Breathe' by James Nestor to everyone I know. But I thought this week, let's do something about it!
I think often our breathing is thought of as automatic, so doesn't need thinking about, but nothing could be further from the truth. I see breathing practices as a little bit like workouts: we put our nervous system through a specific, controlled amount of stress/discomfort and from that our nervous system adapts to become more flexible and resilient - and therefore more able to truly rest and restore.
Every three weeks, I release a short breathing episode on the podcast (The Plan is Podcast, find it here on Spotify) so I thought it would be really handy to collate a few of my favourite episodes all in one place so we can take them as a challenge together. Each practice is only about 4 minutes in length, so easy to fit into your day!
Please note, that with any breathing practice, you must make sure you are in a safe environment, not walking, driving or near water - depending on the practice there is a possibility of falling asleep or even passing out. If you have high blood pressure, have a heart condition or are pregnant, please get approval by your health professional before embarking on any breathing practice.
We start with resonance breathing, or equal length inhales and exhales. This type of breathing is a simple, easy way to calm the body and a nice intro to breathing practices.
We are now to going to explore breath retention for the first time - remember to relax into holding your breath, and don't take it to the point where you're building tension (and definitely not until you're gasping for air!!)
Box breathing is a very well known breathing practice, but please note holding your breath for a count of 4 or 5 can actually be really hard for many people. Take it easy, and reduce the count if needed. Keep practicing this one, and you'll find the breath retention becomes easier and easier.
Often when we are anxious, our breath can become very high in the chest and shallow - sometimes to the point where we skip a breath altogether! Today we're working with a deep diaphragm breath which is really, really relaxing.
On the last day of our challenge, we close with another very chill breath to truly relax us. This count of 4-4-6 breathing can be lovely to do lying down or when preparing for sleep.
Did you love doing this challenge with me? Then let me know! You can leave a comment below or pop on over for a chat on social media (@theplanbycaroline everywhere). If you loved these episodes, please consider subscribing to, rating and leaving a review on the podcast on Spotify or your preferred podcasting platform - thank you so much if you take the time to do so!
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