Breathe like you LOVE yourself
In this week’s “Show up for yourself” series, we’re coming back to my favourite topic: the breath.
So, my lovely, do you breathe like you LOVE yourself?
What does that even mean?
We take our breath for granted. We trust implicitly that the next breath is ALWAYS going to be there for us.
It’s those things we take for granted that we have a tendency to not pay much attention to, to not ensure it is taken care of. And so what can happen when we don’t pay attention to something? It can suffer. It can become dysfunctional.
The breath is one such thing that is so often dysfunctional.
In just about every person I meet, I notice dysfunctional breathing. It’s pretty rare to meet someone who breathes correctly.
Why does this happen?
Like most things, we aren’t taught how to, in this case, breathe properly.
Then we add stress and other lifestyle factors into the mix and here we are.
Now it’s time to check in with your breath. As you read this, assess yourself:
Are you breathing through your nose or mouth?
Where is your tongue placed? On the roof of your mouth or the floor?
Now notice how you’re breathing:
Are you breathing quickly or slowly?
Are you holding your breath or holding in between the breath?
Are you sighing or taking an occasional and sudden big breath in?
Can you see the breath moving your body? Where do you notice your body rising and falling?
As someone who values the breath and facilitates Breathwork, I want people to be educated on how they should be breathing because getting oxygen into your body the right way (through the nose via long, slow, deep breaths) should be something that naturally occurs and it’s really easy to learn. But, when we breathe incorrectly, we reduce the amount of oxygen we intake which affects our body and brain in so many ways from our heart rate to blood pressure to stress levels, immune function, hydration levels, even the mouth and teeth and structure of our face can be impacted!
So when you see your cute kids sleeping with their mouths open, don’t take a picture and laugh at how cute they are! Take a picture, laugh AND THEN close their mouths (yes, we have to train our kids how to breathe too)!
And when you suffer through another night of your partner snoring or using a cpap machine, drooling and tossing and turning, not getting a good night’s sleep and affecting yours, maybe it’s time to suggest they learn to nose breathe??
Or maybe this is you and you’re feeling so depleted all the time, you just don’t know what a good night’s sleep is, maybe it’s time for you to learn how to breathe as Nature intended and see if that helps (I have no doubt that it will)!
Or it could be a myriad of other things you notice you do, like being breathless during your workouts, chewing with your mouth open because you are unable to breath through your nose, constantly sighing or holding your breath, feeling the need to breathe through the mouth even while sitting…
So there’s breathing through the nose and then there’s Conscious Connected Breathwork.
Now it may confuse the heck out of you when I tell you that Breathwork is a conscious breath taken in and out the mouth (it can be via the nose but the most activation occurs via the mouth) so let me quickly explain.
The important distinction is that daily breathing should be in and out the nose via long, slow, deep breaths, but when we want to move energy in the body, the most effective and quick way to change the state of the body is by breathing in and out the mouth. This altered state allows the nervous system to release tension which actually helps us to regulate our breathing in general. (You’ve probably noticed when you’re emotional crying or stressed, you might shake or move your body but you usually always take one or more big breaths out the mouth as this releases the tension from the body in the moment.
So a mouth breath has its place and in my opinion is a way to totally breathe like you LOVE yourself, but it’s not the way we should breathe 99% of the time.
Now this is where things get crazy and it’s something I do every night when I go to bed and is the number 1 way to train yourself how to nose breath:
I tape my mouth shut.
I’ve been doing this for around 2 years. I take a tiny piece of micropore tape and place it on my lips. It’s very sticky so it stays put all night and is very light (I can still talk if I want to – see picture for how I use it). It’s just there as a reminder for me to keep my mouth shut while I sleep which forces me to breathe through my nose.
Now while I thought I was a nose breather prior to doing this (I would fall asleep nose breathing, never snored and was a quiet sleeper), there were times when I couldn’t breathe through my nose and I’d wake up with drool on my pillow, a dry mouth and just feeling not particularly well rested.
Taping my mouth has changed this and I now don’t get the blockages I used to and can breath much more freely.
Like any body parts we build when we work out, the same is said when we train ourselves to breathe through the nose. It strengthens the muscles and cartilage and other tissues, training them to open more allowing the passages to become wider and stronger. This can even impact the shape of your face and jaw even as an adult, but it’s incredibly transformational in a child with mouth/teeth/jaw issues as the way we breathe impacts greatly on the way our face/jaw/teeth develop. Needless to say, if your child has teeth that don’t fit in his/her mouth, or an under or over bite, no chin etc, working with the breathe and placement of the tongue can see a lot of change occur (and there are some great dentists out there working holistically like this).
So, breathing like you LOVE yourself, to me, means breathing in and out the nose as much as possible.
And to teach yourself this requires a lot of conscious awareness of how you breathe and then working with mouth tape to train yourself.
If you’re too nervous to do it at night, do it while you sit on the couch and watch tv. Then, when you’re ready, do it when you go to bed and know that you can always take it off part way through the night. Just keep building up until you can comfortably sleep the whole night through.
I had one clients who suffered incredible anxiety, never slept well, snored terribly, had sleep apnea and he completely transformed all of this just by training himself to breathe through his nose.
And then once you can do this at night, you will become hyper aware of how you are breathing during the day.
You can train yourself to nose breathe as much as possible and you can even tape your mouth while you’re at home doing any other activities.
One final thing to mention is a book all about how to breathe well called Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown. He details loads of brilliant yet simple techniques to help us to assess our lung function as well as increase it with things like breath holds. When it comes to your breath, this is, in my opinion, super powerful stuff to learn.
The other way you can breathe like you LOVE yourself is via Breathwork.
I’m going to offer you two versions of this to practice.
The first version is a nose breath practice.
You sit in a comfortable position and you breathe in and out for 4 counts. When you feel ready, you can extend your inhale and exhale to 5 counts. You’re just going to focus on the breath coming in and going out without any pauses in between.
Breathe in for 5, breathe out for 5 and repeat.
Now, if you have time to stay in this meditation/breathwork practice, I want you to keep going with the intention of extending your breath again, always maintaining inhale and exhale at the same count, so maybe you extend to 6 counts in and 6 counts out. When I do this, I can usually extend my breath comfortably to counts of 12, occasionally more, but it requires time, patience practice (lots of it) and focus.
You most definitely don’t have to keep extending the count, I’m only telling you about what’s possible. I just love the feeling it brings me when I do it, total peace. I space out yet feel super present and the next minute, 30 minutes has passed and I don’t even realise.
There is an organisation called the Heart Math Institute who have studied the connection of the breath to the heart and mind and they believe that the optimal breath count is 5.5 seconds in and out… it’s also super achievable for everyone but you do what feels good for you, what’s important is that you can do it, maintain it, and do it through your nose.
Why is this breathing like you LOVE yourself?
- It improves the health and quality of the lungs
- It improves the health and quality of the nose
- It improves the health and quality of the diaphragm
- It allows the heart and brain to become coherent
- It allows you to feel peace and calm
- It brings so many other beautiful benefits that come with nose breathing (mentioned earlier)
The second breath practice that is all to do with breathing like you LOVE yourself is Conscious Connected Breathwork, where we breathe in and out the mouth, the type that I facilitate regularly online.
As mentioned above, this is an active breath that allows you to become really connected and present to your body.
This enables you to release tension, stress, stuck emotions, trauma from the body. As you breath, you open up the energy centres, allowing the energy to be moved as you breathe. It’s incredibly transformational, especially when practiced regularly, like anything really 😉.
If you would like to join me for some Breathwork, I’m running a free session online this Saturday, the 3rd September at 12pm AEST. (And if you’re reading this after this free session has passed, keep an eye on this link as there will likely be another coming up soon).
Come join and see how it works and see why I think Breathwork is so incredibly powerful
and a true way to show up with love for yourself!
(Click the button below to join)
So to reiterate, breathing like you LOVE yourself is:
- Nose breathing majority of the time, no matter the activity.
- Doing a seated meditation/breath practice to extend your inhale and exhale and find coherence between heart and mind.
- Practising Conscious Connected Breathwork on a regular basis.
So what do you say? Will you take on this week’s challenge and start breathing like you LOVE yourself??!!
You’ve got this! Now, take your first of many long, slow and deep nose breaths and say to yourself now and every day for the next week:
“Today I am going to breathe like I LOVE myself!”
(Literally breathe it into your reality every single day!)
An important reminder from me to you…
YOU can do this for YOU.
YOU have the choice to take responsibility for yourself.
If YOU don’t like the way something is, the way you feel, only YOU can change it.
You’ve got to have your back, change starts with YOU!
Choose to sit each morning and do some connected nose breathing.
Choose to tape your mouth at night and practice nose breathing as much as you can.
Do it because you choose yourself and your wellbeing over anything else.
ENJOY breathing like you LOVE yourself.
You’ve got this!
(Comment below with any questions, I’m happy to help!)
Much love and lots of long, slow deep nose breaths!