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  • Julia

When should you do breathwork?

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Breathwork is any practice used to manipulate or alter your breathing patterns, usually to achieve a specific outcome. It involves controlled breathing techniques that can be used to help regulate emotions, reduce stress, promote physical and mental wellbeing, and so much more!


With so many different types of breathwork and different outcomes, you might ask yourself- when should I practice breathwork? Let’s take a look at a few common situations and times of day in which you might practice in order to help figure out what’s best for you!



Breathwork in the morning:

Doing breathwork in the morning can help to energize you for the day ahead. Breathwork works to balance oxygen & CO2 levels in the body and increase circulation- all of which works together to energize you and help boost alertness and productivity. Many types of breathwork also act on the vagus nerve, which works to regulate the parasympathetic nervous system (our fight or flight response.) Stimulating this system can lead to feelings of calmness and relaxation, which can be carried throughout any stressful situations that may pop up during the day.


Overall, a morning breathwork practice may be extremely beneficial in setting your day up for success. No matter how busy your schedule is, there are many techniques which can be performed in a short amount of time or while doing other activities. For example coherence breathing can be practiced while doing just about anything else! Adding a breathwork practice to your morning may help to make it a part of your routine, allowing you to experience the benefits all day long.



Breathwork during the day:

Practicing breathwork can be a great way to reset during the day. Whether you’re looking for a boost in energy or productivity, need a few moments to de-stress, or want to enhance your workout, there’s a breathwork style for that!


At work:

Controlled breathing has been shown to improve circulation, regulate oxygenation of the blood, balance pH levels, and regulate heart rate. All of these markers also lead to increased focus and endurance, which are beneficial while performing any activity which requires your full attention! Certain types of breathwork such as Conscious Connected Breath have also been known to enhance creativity and awareness. Breathwork can be practiced during break times or even at a desk or on a job site!


While exercising:

Breathwork exercises have been used to increase lung capacity and the ability for breath retention. Practicing controlled breathing through the nose is especially beneficial in improving overall endurance, allowing you to perform for longer periods of time and potentially get more results from your workouts. This can also help with fatigue- better breathing during exercise can help regulate oxygenation of the muscles, leading to less cramping and faster recovery times. Breathing exercises help to focus your mind on your breath instead of on what your body is experiencing. This may allow you to maintain control of the experience and possibly to push through any discomfort or feelings of fatigue.


During times of stress or anxiety:

Breathwork can be a powerful tool for managing stress. During times of stress our nervous system responds by placing us into a fight/flight/freeze/flop reaction. Breathing exercises can be used to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is our body’s counter-balance to a heightened nervous system response. Activating the PNS acts to regulate our stress levels and stress response, bringing us back down to baseline. Breathwork is easily accessible in that it doesn’t require a prescription, generally has minimal side effects, and is always available to us no matter where we may be.


One disadvantage to practicing breathwork during times of stress or anxiety is that it can be much more difficult to maintain focus on the breath. Oftentimes during these periods of high-activation our breath is shallow and rapid, and the idea of trying to regulate it may feel unachievable. For these situations, it may be helpful to have an already-established breathwork practice to fall back on. Not only will it help make you feel more comfortable practicing breathing techniques during times of stress, but it is likely to help lessen these stressful moments in frequency, duration, and intensity!



Breathwork at night:

Practicing breathing exercises in the evening or before bed is a great way to boost relaxation and feelings of calmness. Breathwork can help to regulate your heart rate and stress levels and prepare your body for a restful night’s sleep. The act of focusing on the breath may also act to wipe any other negative thoughts or worries from your head before settling down for the night. Evening breathwork may make you so calm that you fall asleep- so it’s important to be mindful of what position you’re practicing in if that’s not the intended outcome!


CONCLUSION:

In general, there are breathwork practices and techniques which can be used for any time of the day or any situation. When starting any breathing practice it’s important to consider your health & mindset going into it, and to examine what your desired outcome is. For example, it may not be advisable to practice a very activating breathwork before sleep, or to practice a very relaxing breathing technique while driving! Use your own judgment and listen to your body’s needs when figuring out what’s best for you. For anyone experiencing a medical condition which impacts their ability to breathe it is recommended to seek medical advice before starting any breathwork practice. When in doubt, go slowly and seek consultation before.



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