Our emotions and our breath are intimately connected. When we feel tense or anxious, our breath tends to be more shallow and erratic. People who suffer from depression often have a hardly noticeable breath; almost like they are afraid to draw-in life. How we breathe mirrors how we feel. Stress, emotional tension, depression, grief and trauma all influence the quality of our breath.
Because of the intimate correlation between our emotions and breathing process, we can consciously alter our breath in order to induce more favourable states of emotions and mind. We call the conscious use of the breath ‘breathing exercises’, ‘breath therapy’ or in yoga ‘pranayama’. When we struggle with challenging emotions, we can use our breathing to feel more relaxed and at peace.
There are many different breathing exercises that can help with different types of emotions. Some breathing exercises help to reduce anxiety, some are energizing to help with depression, and yet others create feelings of safety to help with healing trauma and PTSD.
Here is a 3-step breathing exercise for you to try at home. I designed it specifically to reduce anxiety and depression, and help with insomnia, trauma and grief.
It guides you through 3 steps that are essential in any emotional healing process: embodiment, breath awareness, and creating positive states of mind.
In the video below I will guide you through it, or follow the 3 steps below.
Step By Step
1. Body Feeling. Start by completely relaxing your body. Bring your entire awareness onto the different sensations in your physical body. This is a very important step. Emotional trauma often causes us to disconnect or dissociate from the body. This increases the gap between the body and the mind and can result in our body getting ill. So take your time to feel your body from the inside out. Come fully into your body.
2. Breath Awareness. When you are ready, turn your awareness onto your breath. Notice your belly rising as you inhale, and dropping as you exhale. Keep your entire awareness focused on your breath. Whenever the mind wanders, just gently bring it back to the breath.
3. Affirmation. When you feel that your mind and breath have achieved a harmonious flow, introduce this affirmation. Every time you inhale, repeat inside yourself “I trust in the process of life. As you exhale, repeat inside yourself “I am safe”. Continue like this until you feel calm, centered, relaxed and grounded.