Breathing is the only bodily function that happens automatically and can be consciously controlled. Why would we need to consciously control our breathing when it is something our body will do on its own? Because when relying on our automatic rhythm of breathing, it is often haphazard and irregular.
In moments of tension, fear, suspense, surprise and even excitement it becomes natural to hold our breath. When we do this, our bodies tense, we lose the flow of energy throughout the body. This can stimulate that fight or flight mode which can set us into a feeling of panic.
Conscious breathwork begins with awareness. The first step is to notice when you’re reacting to outward stimuli by holding your breath. Do you stop breathing while you’re concentrating on something testing or when you’re angry or when you’re worried and bracing yourself for something bad to happen? Begin to pay attention and when you notice these times, take a pause and remind yourself to breathe. Use these times as mindful moments to pull your breath down into the belly and practice a few diaphragmatic breaths to activate your relaxation and digestion mode. Practice this every day, and you will retrain your body and your mind to breathe through and into difficult times, making for a calmer response to life in general.