Change Your Experience with Your Breath

By Andrew Jovanovic, LPC, RYT

Air is such a mutable element.  Walking into a closed-off room we can feel, and perhaps even smell, the still air.  No motion, or momentum until you walked into the room.  With a change in the environment, air can quickly move and take a life of its own.  For me, the act of breathing is very much akin to the life-giving element our lungs intake.  While sitting or watching something, our breathing is slow – perhaps you can even feel your belly move as you inhale.  It is a calm and relaxing feeling, very pleasant to the mind.  However, if you were confronted with a situation for which you were not prepared, your breathing could be quick, and you probably feel it in your chest.  In my experiences with this breathing, I find my mind racing from one thought to the next.  It is a very unpleasant experience.

Now imagine, just like air and how it exists within a space, so is your breathing and the spaces you occupy.  One of the common experiences I hear from my clients when it comes to panic or anxiety symptoms is quick, shallow breathing, or a slowing down of the breath until they are not breathing at all.  Both ways of breathing contribute to the very troubling symptoms which then further perpetuate the symptoms in the future.  There is a secret that runners, yogis, weightlifters, dancers, gymnasts, and singers (for example) have known for some time now that helps them manage their anxiety and panic symptoms. It’s called Breathing Exercises or Breath Control.

By effectively and skillfully controlling the way you breathe, you can create physiological, emotional, and cognitive changes within yourself.  A simple version of this would be to take 10 deep breaths when you are angry before saying anything.  A complex version of this would be Alternate Nostril Breathing Exercise.  And as with anything that we can practice, repetition of breathing exercises increases our ability to engage in the breath control effectively when we need them, increasing our feeling of being more capable in handling our symptoms as they arise to help us feel calm and safe again.  There are a ton of different breathing exercises out there and there is some “hardware” that we need to be aware of when practicing.  So, there can be some understandable confusion when beginning down this path.  This is where my Breathing Exercise Class will come in handy.

For four weeks I will be hosting a virtual Breathing Exercise Class.  My aim for this class is to provide the foundation someone would need to start practicing breathing exercises.  We will be engaging in exercises that range from simple to complex.  We will be doing this from the comfort of your own home,  giving you the ultimate space to practice without judgment and with people who share a common interest as you.  If you are interested in learning more about my Breathing Exercise Class or want to sign up, check out the video below for your next steps!