Posted in Achieve, Health & Fitness on 13 August 2020 | by Amit

Taking a Breather – Sophrologist Advice

The year 2020 has frankly, been crazy. What started with hope and excitement has evaporated into a covid-fuelled pool of stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue. As humanity slowly turns the corner and a sense of normality – if ever there was one – begins to return, how does the discerning gent cope?

 

Elysium Magazine sought the advice of Dominique Antiglio, a Sophrologist at BeSophro clinic. If this term sounds new to you (it did for us) then let us enlighten: Sophrology is a self-development method and practice using body and mind, allowing each individual to create more balance and harmony in themselves and the world around them. It is both a philosophy and a way of life, as well as a therapy and a personal development technique.

 

It is worth a try. After all, given the world events that seems so far-fetched in February but ultimately turned out to be months of negatively for many, let’s give this one some consideration. It might be able to assist, helping with tips and advice on breathwork techniques that can be used in various situations i.e. quelling stress, calming anxiety, releasing negativity, neutralising anger, processing sadness etc. – basically all the things lockdown has pushed many to.

 

Breathwork only takes a few minutes and is proven to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to calm the body down from heightened states. Dominique’s advice touches on the role the breath plays in our emotions, how it presents under various situations, and breathing techniques that can be engaged to manage those emotions. So let’s get her thoughts on some key areas.

 

Dealing with working from home during tough periods in a typical workday (video calls, meeting with clients/boss etc.)

One feeling most commonly associated with work is stress. Stress is healthy in small doses as it keeps us alert and energised but experiencing regular or prolonged stress is unhealthy and takes its toll on the mind and body. Breathwork is a really easy way to ground yourself in the body when thoughts start taking hold. Here are a couple of breathwork exercises that will come in helpful when working from home:

 

Managing stressful situations

When we are stressed, the breath naturally becomes fast and shallow, and more centred in the chest. Use a technique called abdominal breathing to shift the breath from your chest down to your tummy where you can breathe more deeply, slowly and calmly.

 

Abdominal breathing:

  • Place one hand on your chest, the other on your tummy
  • Imagine you have a balloon where your tummy is, and as you inhale, the balloon starts to inflate, then as you exhale, the balloon deflates
  • Exhale to double the count of your inhales, so in through your nose for three counts and out through the mouth for six. For experienced deep breathers, you can increase those counts proportionally i.e. in for 5, out for 10
  • Repeat mindfully for 2-3 minutes

 

Boosting energy

 

We’re all prone to daytime slumps so when you need a natural boost of energy, especially for that last-minute afternoon meeting, try this breathing technique to boost your oxygen intake instantly, which will wake you up so you’re alert and ready for that Zoom call.

 

The Pump:

  • Do this standing up
  • Exhale through the mouth first vigorously for the length of that out-breath
  • Inhale through the nose to a count of 4
  • Hold the breath
  • “Pump” your shoulders vigorously 5 times to get the blood circulating
  • Relax the shoulders
  • Breathe out for 8 counts through the mouth
  • Repeat three times

 

Dealing with family life at home (with partner, children, relatives etc.)

If life feels a bit crowded at home, you’re feeling the pressures of work encroaching into family life, you can’t socialise freely and or are unable to take to the outdoors, it can be really easy to feel negative about your situation. Left alone, this can fester into irritation from those around you, and then potentially escalate into anger.

 

When we are ruminating on negative thoughts or have negative energy, the body closes up and the breath gets cut short – essentially, negativity interrupts our breathing patterns.

 

To counteract both negativity and anger, using the following breathing technique to firstly calm the nervous system, and secondly, to transport more oxygen to the brain, will help you to think more clearly:

 

  • Breathe in for four counts through the nose, thinking of and breathing in more positive emotions as you do so
  • Hold the breath
  • Gently rotate the head over your left shoulder, then back to centre
  • Then rotate your head over the right shoulder, then back to centre, these exercises oxygenate the brain
  • Do a long exhale to clear the breath cycle, to double the count i.e. out for 8 counts if you’re inhaling for 4 counts
  • Repeat three times – the positive thoughts should feel easier with each breath, and strong emotions should also lessen

 

During exercise – tips on controlling your breathing before/during/after intensive exercise

Breathing from your abdominal area is the quickest way to keep your heart rate down so you can exercise for longer, so it is best to employ the abdominal breathing technique. It aids focus before a workout, helps you go for longer, and post-workout, helps to slow down the racing heart rate to aid recovery.

 

  • You do not have to place your hands on the body for this one
  • Imagine you have a balloon where your tummy is, and as you inhale, the balloon starts to inflate, then as you exhale, the balloon deflates
  • Exhale to double the count of your inhales, so in through your nose for three counts and out through the mouth for six
  • It will be difficult to keep this control during intense exercise as you need more air, so don’t force it, breathe through your mouth when you need to, and engage inhaling through your nose (with the mouth close), then exhaling through the mouth, when you can

 

But generally, when you’re exercising vigorously, it’s more important to focus on being as present as possible. Use the breath to bring focus but then try to connect with the body’s sensations or tensions – feel the ground under your feet, be attentive to how your muscles feel. Tuning into these sensations will help you recognise when you can push yourself further or when you need to pull back, or stop and recuperate. This is crucial for effective and safe training, so you don’t injure yourself.


 
 
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