Breathe in for four. Now hold for seven. Through your mouth, exhale for eight.
How often do you really focus on your breathing? Perhaps you’ve taken notice of it as masks have come on, off, on and apparently back off again — thanks to COVID. With the stress that has skyrocketed over the past year — thanks COVID — we’ve been told how to breathe (through your nose, please).
We can’t claim that breathing is making a comeback — like we did ashwagandha, or acupuncture — breathing is vital to life, and we all (have to) do it. But we can talk about being more conscious of our breathing. Yes, as the headline suggests, we’re discussing conscious breathing.
So what is conscious breathing? As primal health coach Charlene Gisele tells Stylist UK it’s about “being aware of when we inhale and exhale” — as the name infers. One study goes further, and says it includes “being mindful of the breath” as well as “controlling the breath through the use of numerous breathing techniques.”
And it’s beneficial to the body. A study hailing from Korea, published in Perspectives in Nursing Science, claims that conscious breathing could change “heartbeat rhythms and brainwaves” — it really could change your life. The same study claims it can also “affect emotional status”.
One study showed that when it comes to pregnant women, conscious breathing can “help women avoid unnecessary medical intervention.” In addition to this, it can assist in them having a safe, healthy birth. For leaders, it can mitigate the physical effects of stress (including disrupted sleep and digestive ailments) and “reduce the sense of time pressure.”
In The Guardian, claims are made to conscious breathing “activat[ing] the body’s relaxation response, which in turn reduces blood pressure, which in turn lowers the risk of stroke and improves cardiovascular health.”
As for what type of breathwork will help you breathe more consciously? The aforementioned 4-7-8 method is highly recommended, and we’ve previously covered how you can practice it.