My last two blogs on morning and evening routines have been a window into my world of the natural tools I have discovered over the years to cure many of my chronic symptoms, from awful sleep and lack of energy to brain fog, anxiety and panic attacks. The fact that I felt I had no control unless I dropped a pill just made matters worse.
As mentioned in my first blog, it was mushrooms that healed me. I now wake every morning with an abundance of clarity, gratitude, sharp-eyed focus and total grit to perform at my optimum.
In my curiosity to see what other tools were out there to support my wellbeing, I discovered one so powerful that in a single moment you can shift your body from angst to calm, from tension to surrender and from inner noise to silence. A tool so close to us. The first thing we bring into this world and the very last thing we leave behind in this world when we leave. Breath.
We take over 25,000 breaths per day, but to date, even with something we do so unconsciously, studies are showing us that we are literally the worse breathers in the animal kingdom.
However, if we harness the power of breath and breathe properly, we will heal, improve mental focus, suppress illness, improve our sleep and surrender deeply to traumas, expelling this gunk from us and stepping into a new dawn with more conviction, passion, purpose and hope.
Below are the six easy steps I have implemented that have cured my burn out and has allowed me to reclaim the power of breath to help me sleep better, loose anxiety, calm down and improve my immune health.
Many of us are constantly breathing from the mouth and not the nasal passage. By constantly breathing from the mouth we increase the risk of inhaling unfiltered air, consequently exposing us to allergens, asthma, bad breath, tooth decay, gum inflammation, snoring, sleep apnoea, teeth or jaw abnormalities. The list goes on.
By simply shifting to nasal breathing we will be able to rid of the above symptoms by: increasing air flow to arteries, veins, and nerves, increasing oxygen uptake and circulation, stop snoring, improve lung volume, lower your risk of snoring and sleep apnoea, improve immune health and support the correct formation of teeth and mouth.
The question is.. How do we nasal breath more?
Stay with me! There is nothing fetish about this part of the blog, I promise! By simply placing mouth tape over your lips prior to sleep, you will force your body to learn nasal breathing.
Since doing this I now breathe through my nose during the night and am more conscious to breathing through my nose throughout the day.
I personally use sleep strips and have found myself waking up in the mornings with no dry mouth, less body aches, no brain fog and less interrupted sleep. I have also been using Whoop for the last 2 years to track and measure my sleep and have found my Respiratory Rate (RR) has slowed down from 16 breaths per minute (BPM) to 13 BPM which has attributed to lower blood pressure and a lower resting heart rate. As a side note, for a healthy RR we should be between 12-20 Respiration Rate per minute. Anything higher could indicate a virus.
Coined by Ex US Navy seal Mark Divine, Box Breathing is a very simple breathwork that distracts your mind, allowing you to return to your normal breathing patten, increase your focus and suppress anxious thoughts and be present.
Before commencing, I will always find a quiet place, dispel of my iPhone, or anything else that will prove as a distraction, and I pour some Cordyceps Mushroom Tea. Why? Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of Cordyceps, this mushroom has shown ability to relax the bronchial walls and promote enhanced oxygen utilisation efficacy. This is one gift from Mother Nature that almost instantaneously allows me to feel a sense of calmness. I then observe my breath for a minute (from chest to stomach).
Something to remember: if you notice that your chest is rising but your stomach is not, you maybe shallow breathing. If your stomach is rising, you are deep breathing which is activating full relaxation in your body.
As this may be your first go, push your stomach out while focusing on smooth, deep breaths.
Step 1: Breathe in through your nose counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
Step 2: Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
Step 3: Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.
Step 4: hold for 4 seconds
Step 5: Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you feel centred.
What I've personally noticed and from studies that have supported my experiences:
- Lowered blood pressure (because of bad sleep I suffered from hypertension).
- Less anxious about going to sleep.
- Lost all symptoms of nervousness when speaking on stage.
- The ability to achieve greater focus.
- My cortisol levels started to decrease.
I have recently added the 'focus mushroom' Lion's Mane after Box Breathing and have experienced greater focus and in some cases entering flow. As a reminder, Lion's Mane has the ability to stimulate the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus. This increases focus, memory and a reduces anxiety. I find Lion's Mane Tea after Box Breathing a perfect dance. Click here and scroll down to the the video where I briefly explain this mushroom and its magical powers for the mind!
4 count in, 7 count hold, 8 count out
This is a perfect weapon to unleash before bed and a total game changer to my sleep. Coined by mushroom lover Dr Andrew Weil, a true inspiration in the world of naturopathic medicine. Here is how you prepare yourself for a perfect sleep with his 4, 7, 8 breath practice:
- Place your tongue against the back of your top teeth and keep it there. This is a yoga position that completes the energy circuit.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Purse your lips if it helps.
- Close your lips and inhale through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth making a whoosh sound, for a count of eight.
- This completes one cycle. Repeat for three more cycles.
The “4 count in, 7 count hold, 8 count out” also works for me in any stressful situation. When you take a long relaxed exhale you activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), which is a state allowing you to slow the heart rate and allowing to feel more resilience and de-stressed.
For this practice I literally only get to 4 rounds and its lights out for me.
CONSCIOUS CONNECTED BREATHWORK (CCB)
This is by far one of the most powerful and safe way to infuse the body with oxygen and energy, recharging our own (often depleted) systems to work to their healing capacity. CCB facilitates openings to higher levels of consciousness. Some people compare their experiences to psychedelic visuals and a feeling of total surrender.
CCB allows us to tap into our deeper resources and live our lives joyfully, in abundance, with emotional clarity and experience an ever-deepening relationship with ourselves. Now who wouldn't want a dose of that!
Next week I will be releasing a podcast with our very own DIRTEA Breath coach and founder of The Breath Space, Jamie Clements. In this podcast we will be sharing everything about breath and CCB! I cannot wait to share. We will drop this on Dirteaworld.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING
This is a simple stress-reducing tactic. By simply inhaling through the left nostril, the rest/relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system) is triggered and by inhaling through the right, the fight/flight response (sympathetic nervous system) is stimulated. By choosing which nostril you use to inhale, you can make yourself either more relaxed (left nostril) or more energised (right nostril).
An easy approach to this process is simply pressing your thumb on your right nostril whilst breathing out gently through your left nostril. Next, breathe in through the left nostril gently, and press the left nostril closed with a different finger. Remove your thumb from the right nostril and breathe out through the right nostril. Next, breathe through the right nostril, close the nostril, and then exhale from the left.
I truly believe that by observing the breath we will be able reduce stress and open a door to a more healthy and mindful lifestyle.
Okay, how was that? Do you have any questions about this post? Is this too long? I'm starting to keep my sharing to only 6 simple practices with each subject. I want to ensure I can share enough of the basics, so you can be armed with the knowledge and use these tools any time to further upgrade your body. Please share this post with anyone you feel needs these simple practices in their lives. It changed my life and my hope for them is to enrich yours too.
For now, keep clean and drink DIRTEA.