In one of my previous posts, I had promised to write about breathing exercises in a separate post. Here it is. Breathwork is the phrase!

Incidentally, I discovered the importance of breathwork in a funny way. Let me tell that story first. In the early days of my holistic wellbeing programme under Rachna’s guidance, I was trying to make time for many things that I hadn’t done before. On certain days when I was short of time in the morning, I was allocating the available time for sleep (having been persuasively told about sleep’s healing powers at the beginning itself, after noting about my short-sleep schedule for years), and for physical exercises (since I had assumed this was a more vital input for weight loss), I was skipping the recommended breathing exercises.

Those exercises needed twenty-five minutes, split into five minutes of Sheetali, fifteen minutes of Anulom Vilom, and five minutes of Bhramari, in that order.

The skipping soon showed up on my daily weight tracker, and I had to confess about my trade-off to Rachna when she probed. Then she gave me a solution – “if you don’t have twenty-five minutes at one go, split the exercises but do them in the same sequence; just ensure that you are on a relatively empty stomach each time you do”. I lapped up this practical tip and started doing Sheetali in the morning, Anulom Vilom sometime during the day, and Bhramari just before sleeping. The weighing scale wouldn’t budge even after a week. That prompted Rachna to probe me beyond the first report back that I was now complying fully, using the split formula. And we had a big laugh at my foul-up. Apparently, by the split, she meant doing all three exercises in the same sequence for eight or ten minutes, and then repeat all three when I find another eight or ten minutes.     

Even for the uninitiated, breathwork is not a new subject. It refers to deliberate and systematic breathing to improve both mental and physical wellbeing.

Breathwork oxygenates the blood and heals the body’s cells, thereby increasing our energy levels. It relieves stress and fatigue. It also helps increase focus and concentration. Repairing the digestive system and promoting better sleep are among its many other benefits.

There is a wide range of breathing exercises, and I am told that all the exercises are not necessarily good for everyone. Each exercise has a different purpose and some are context-specific too. Some, when you are stressed out and some when you are low on energy and so on. How you do these exercises, in what order, and for how long is the key. It is therefore important to practice the exercises as taught by a certified coach. 

As mentioned earlier in the post, following three exercises were recommended for me, given my stressful work schedules and high blood pressure. Rather than describing them in text, I have given the video links of these exercises for understanding easily. A description like “roll your tongue to form a tube, and breathe slowly and deeply through the tube-like tongue” is tough to visualize. Isn’t it?  

Sheetali or Cooling Breath: Sheetali has been clinically shown to reduce blood pressure in chronic hypertensive people. Reducing high blood pressure is key to protect the organs and reduce inflammation levels. 

Anulom Vilom or Alternate Nose Breathing: Anulom Vilom reduces anxiety and negativity. Within a few weeks, you will begin to experience calmness and positivity. Your pulse rate and blood pressure will stabilise. This reduces stress, inflammation, and repairs the gut.

Bhramari or Humming Bee: Bhramari releases cerebral tension and calms the mind. Bhramari is also known to bolster the health of the throat.

I know this post is not exhaustive by any means. My idea was to just stimulate your interest in breathwork, so you read more about it or ask for expert guidance. 

There’s nothing that’s “easier yet more effective” than breathwork in your wellbeing journey. 

 

Disclaimer: Please consult with a certified Yoga Teacher before attempting any of the above breathing exercises.

S. Sivakumar

A senior business leader at ITC Ltd. He could hide behind lack of time but has healed himself, lost 35 kg and walks the talk on making time for yourself to get healthy.

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