The autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulatesall the systems in your body that you don’t have to think about, like yourheart rate and digestion. The ANS has two parts: the sympathetic nervous system(SNS), which is responsible for the “fight-flight” response, and theparasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for the“rest-and-digest” or “freeze” response. A balanced autonomic nervous system iskey to good health, but modern life has a tendency to tip the scales towardsthe sympathetic side. This is where breathwork comes in.
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork is any type of breathing exercisethat helps you regulate your autonomic nervous system. When you breathe deeplyand slowly, it activates the PNS and helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Whenyou do breathwork, you are essentially telling your body to calm down bysending it more oxygen. Oxygen is a natural calming agent, so when you dobreathwork, you are helping your body to relax.
There are many different types of breathwork,but all of them share the same goal: to help you find balance in your body andmind.
There are many different types of breathwork,but one of the most popular is called 4-7-8 breathing. This type of breathingis named after the count that you do for each inhale, hold, and exhale. To do4-7-8 breathing, simply follow these steps:
1) Inhale for four seconds through your nose
2) Hold your breath for seven seconds
3) Exhale slowly for eight seconds throughyour mouth
4) Repeat this cycle three more times
This type of breathing is easy to do anywhere,anytime. You can do it sitting at your desk at work, lying in bed at night, oreven while taking a break from studying for finals. And the best part is thatit only takes a few minutes to do! So if you're feeling stressed, try some4-7-8 breathing and see how it makes you feel.
Some of the most popular types of breathworkinclude:
-Pranayama: A form of yoga that focuses onbreathing exercises. One of the most popular pranayama techniques is alternatenostril breathing, which involves closing off one nostril and breathing throughthe other.
-Box breathing: A breathing exercise thatequalizes your inhales with your exhales by using a 4-second count for eachinhale and each exhale.
-Ujjayi breathing: Used in yoga, this type ofbreath work creates an ocean sound while you breathe in order to lengthen yourexhalations.
The list goes on, but these are just a fewexamples of breathwork activities that can help regulate your nervous system.You can also explore other options for breathwork using apps like Insight Timeror Calm. Both offer helpful guided practices for you to get started!
So take a deep breath, exhale slowly, anddiscover the breathwork activity that’s right for you.