Your breath is a powerful thing. It can help regulate your mood, increase your strength and propel you forward. Breathing techniques have been used for centuries from cultures around the globe. From meditation to achieving astounding athleticism, practicing breathing techniques can change your life in so many ways.
I first realized how powerful breathing can be when I watched David Blaine hold his breath in a tank of water for 15 minutes. The average person can hold their breath for about 2 minutes, whales and dolphins can hold their breath between 90 and 20 minutes. It was the most uncomfortable 15 minutes of my life, pretty sure he also broke the record of most sweaty palms in a room that night. Before he dunked himself, he was using a breathing technique called Lung Packing. It’s a popular technique used by free divers. You fill your lungs with as much oxygen as you can, hold it for a second and then take in a little more in. This allowed his lungs to be filled to their maximum capacity before he went in the tank. It sounds super human but it was accomplished through years of training and breathing.
Most people are familiar with breathing techniques to reduce stress and anxiety. Breathing in for three counts, counting to three then exhaling, repeat 3 to 5 times, is a very common way to reduce these symptoms. As we take oxygen in, it stimulates our brains while tightening our lungs and as we exhale, we release the tension in our bodies. One of the coolest stress relieving experiences I’ve has has been with horses.
I attended a meditation facilitated by an equine therapist. We sat in a circle surrounded by horses as we tapped into our our thoughts. The meditation was so powerful because horses hearts are five times the size of ours, and research shows that they emit an electromagnetic field that can influence our heart, causing a more coherent heartbeat. When you are in a coherent state, your thoughts and emotions are balanced, and you experience ease and inner harmony. During the meditation we had to breath with horse lips meaning on every exhale we vibrated our lips simulating a horse. Horses use this type of breath as a from of relaxation. It sounds silly but it actually felt really good so give it a try the next time you need a stress reliever.
Another type of breath that is most commonly used during yoga. or pilates is the Ujjayi Breath (ooh-JAH-yee). This technique is also known as ocean breathing. It gets it’s name ocean breathing because on the exhale of your breath you mimic the noise you hear when you hold a seashell to your ear. It also sounds like the noise you make when you fog up a mirror. I love using this type of breathing for ab work because it gives me an extra burning sensation in my abdominals and helps me be more present in my practice.
There are literally hundred of breathing techniques out there, so when you need a little extra help in your wellness routine try exploring changing your breath.