Day 21 - Pranayama & Circular Breathing Techniques #22DayChallenge
Updated: Aug 3
As I arrive on the penultimate day of this 22 Day Challenge I wanted to write about the importance of breathwork and focus on 2 techniques that I studied and practiced and have found to have a beneficial knock-on effect in my life in a myriad of ways. They are also great for bringing us back into centre when life can become overwhelming and last year these 2 techniques became the core work and focus when I set myself my first ever 22 Day Challenge to give up smoking (you can read about that on my Facebook Page in the link below)
Whenever you want to break a habit you have to replace it with a new habit otherwise the old habit will continue to play on loop. When I was preparing for that challenge I had to stop and think about what would be the best new habit to replace it with and that's when I discovered Pranayama breathing. It was perfect because every time I had a craving I would do 3-5 minutes of Pranayama Breathing and after years of deoxygenating my body, I started to reoxygenate my body. This is key to breaking any habit, you have to go to the root and do the opposite of what you were doing before so you can reverse the momentum of the behaviour.
In this last week of my 22 Day Challenge, these old techniques have been knocking on my door again as they are tried and tested tools that allow me to decompress and increase my energy levels. I wanted to include breathwork in this blog because this year we have all felt overwhelmed during lockdown and it is also the perfect solution to stay healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have to wear masks which causes shallow breathing so take time out today to learn these simple yet effective techniques.
1. Pranayama Breathing - 'Prana' is the Sanskrit word for Life Force and 'Yama' means control or restraint so by practicing this ancient technique which has been practiced by Yogis for thousands of years we take back control of our lives and increase our life force moving it around our bodies, through our meridians allowing the energy to flow where it needs to go most.
There are essentially three stages of pranayama breathing.
This is a great short video by Into Sport on youtube which teaches you how to do this technique
2. Wim Hof Breathing techniques - In yesterdays blog I focused on Part 1 of the Wim Hof Method so today I wanted to show you Part 2. Watch the breathing tutorial below which teaches you how to do the breathing technique
Now that you have learnt the technique we can begin with 3 rounds. In the first round, you hold your breath for 30 seconds, the 2nd round is 60 seconds and the 3rd round you hold your breath for 90 seconds. Don't worry if you are not able to hold your breath the first time you do it, with practice, it soon becomes easier and you will find that you can go longer than 90 seconds. Follow the rhythm of the breathing bubble as this helps you to get into the flow more easily and relax into it.
One of my favourite things about this technique is the holding your breath part. Don't worry if your body starts to tingle this is normal as the body is taking in a lot more oxygen than it usually does. The moment between the in-out breath also teaches you how to live more fully in the present moment and has the secondary benefit of helping you not react to things that would have triggered you in the past. You become more resilient with practice and I am so grateful that these techniques came into my life as they have helped me become more focused as well.
For those that do yoga, go running or swimming or have done other breathwork techniques, this is the more advanced video and if you want to do more than 3 rounds you can simply press the refresh button and go again
The first thing we do when we come into the world is breathe and it's also the last. Yet most of us don't give it a second thought. I hope you enjoy these breathwork techniques as much as I do and you will love the mental clarity and emotional balancing they bring as well. The best things in life are the most simple, try both and see which one resonates with you the most. You will be grateful that you added them to your daily routine.
Below is a link to some online courses if you want to explore the Wim Hof Method in more detail