If you are like most people, myself included, managing stress levels has become a daily activity. If Covid 19, America’s racial reckoning and arguably the worst president ever occupying the White House wasn’t enough… add in the challenges of your day to day.
To be honest, these have been tough times for me emotionally. In addition to regular therapy… my friend and Wellness Coach, Jasmine Graham recommended a list of self care activities for me to engage in. At the top of that list is breathing. And much to my surprise, it works and has helped me manage my anxiety.
I wanted Coach Jaz to share more details about breath work, just in case any of you want to give it a try.
VSC: Why do you love breath work so much when it comes to managing stress?
Coach Jaz: It just works! It is the first recommendation that I offer women as part of their STRESS PROTOCOL. Science has proven that deep breathing takes us out of a stress reaction.In other words, we have a built in escape hatch that we can activate with our breath. We are dealing with stressors caused by this pandemic that range from financial distress to emotional distress and loneliness due to the lack of socializing and true connection with others. In addition to breath work I recommend:- Daily movement that can be a specific workout, walking, dancing or stretching. – Get outside to get fresh air and sunshine when possible- Add daily mindfulness practices that include prayer, breath work, journaling, practicing gratitude, affirmations, intention setting and meditation.- Improve nutrition which includes drinking more water, eating 80% clean/20% processed, limit sugar, limit sodium, limit alcohol and caffeine- Foster meaningful relationships, create a positive circle of friends that support each other, look for a mentor..- Set boundaries in your personal and work life to protect your emotional space and this includes time management, turning off news notifications, setting specific times to start and end work, refrain from answering calls or meeting with negative people that are triggers.
VSC: Is Breathing a form of meditation?
Coach Jaz: Breath work Meditation helps to calm the mind and invokes inner peace as it moves more oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. It is healing and transformative as it takes you to “rest & digest”and out of the sympathetic “fight or flight” stress reaction. The release of endorphins may make you feel a tingling sensation which is normal.
VSC: Break down the breathing technique you taught me into steps.
Coach Jaz: I teach clients the 4-7-8 breathing technique created by Dr. Andrew Weil. I’ve followed him for years even before I even got into wellness and I find this technique easy to follow. I use these techniques at the beginning of all my coaching sessions.a- you take a deep inhale through your nose for a count of 4b- you hold it for a count of 7c- you exhale through your mouth for a count of 8d- you continue the 4-7-8 technique for 4-8 rounds as many times a day as you feel you need it.
VSC: What is the best body position to get the optimal effect of breathing exercises?
Coach Jaz: The best position is either sitting or laying down. You can also do standing but not more than 10 minutes as you may feel a bit dizzy
VSC: In one session, how many times and how long should be do this breathing exercise? How many sessions in one day?
Coach Jaz: You continue the 4-7-8 technique for 4-8 rounds as many times a day as you feel you need it.
VSC: How is breathing related to wellness?
Coach Jaz: 6- Breath work improves your immunity and releases tension and stress. Stress is directly related to many health conditions including high blood pressure, depression, decreased libido, obesity,and autoimmune issues just to name a few. Practicing breathwork daily will definitely improve your overall health and well being. I like to visualize positivity coming into my body and I release negativity on my exhale.
VSC: How can breathing help shape our mindset and set our intentions of the day?
Coach Jaz: Breath work gives you the space to be present and just focus on the breath as you set your positive intentions for the day. Your intention is the way you want to be and feel during your day. An example would be : strong, calm & a great communicator. Intentions reflect how I want to feel after my session. Breath work and intention setting every morning is a powerful practice to ground you daily. I tell my clients that when you set your intention in the morning you are in control of your narrative for the day and you’re less reactionary. You also have something to tap into if your day gets stressful, take a moment to breathe and repeat those intentions.
VSC: Should we have music or any sound in the back ground or should there be silence?
Coach Jaz: You really want to focus on your breath or follow a recording that helps you keep count during breathwork. There are some types of breathwork that uses music, but I suggest starting with a recording or doing it quietly as you focus on your intention.
Coach Jaz is a wellness coach, nutritionist and all around cool chick! You can follow her on IG @CoachJaz