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Have you ever noticed what happens to your breath when you encounter stressful or anxious situations? Managing stress, or our reactions to events, conversations, emails, etc… can be a huge step towards taking better care of ourselves, our mind and body.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

Charles R. Swindoll

We all encounter situations that can increase our stress levels but focusing on the power of the breath can be a huge way to harness your inner calm and reduce anxieties or stress. In Yoga and in particular Forest yoga, we are taught a more conscious connection with our breath. Conscious control of breath allows us to shift our nervous system state on demand and downshift when we are high strung or up level when we feel dull or apathetic. Conscious connection to breath also allows us to develop more of an ability to receive and react to stimuli coming from within.

Brenee Brown in Rising strong talks about “The four part breathing”– it is used by athletes, performers, doctors, and even navy seals, to quickly enter a calm, focused state of mind and body; especially when they are in an intense situation where they need to be fully present and directly connected to their best self.

How to do a Calming Breath: (your eyes can be open or closed – whatever is more comfortable for you)

  1. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. Count to four.

  2. Hold your breath in for four.

  3. Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach for a count of four.

  4. Hold your empty breath for a count of four.

  5. Repeat.

The great thing about this is you can do this anywhere, anytime. Lying down or sitting comfortably in a chair with your feet on the floor.

The pace of your breathe doesn't matter; it should just be something that feels good to you. Try and make the exhale smooth and have almost all of the air leave your body. Do it with the counting as long as you need to get the pace down before going to the next step. If you are feeling particularly anxious, holding in your breath after you exhale can be soothing.

Breathing can be a huge positive steps towards self-love and self-care. It’s not about meditation. It is sitting with our feelings and managing them. We can learn to heal through breathing.

If you are interested in learning more about breathing to heal, check out this Tedx talk by Max Strom:

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