Dan Brulé, author of Just Breathe, is a pioneer in the field of Breathwork, and a world-renowned leader of the Spiritual Breathing movement. A former US Navy Deep Sea Diver, he is one of the originators of Breath Therapy, a Master of Prana Yoga (The Hindu Science of Breath), and an expert in Chi Kung (Chinese Medical Breathing Exercises). His new book, Just Breathe, is on sale now from Atria Books, an imprint of our sister company, Simon & Schuster.
If you are among the more than 40 million Americans who suffer from an anxiety disorder, or if you are one of the 75 million who have high blood pressure, I have good news for you. You can make stress and anxiety—and even high blood pressure—a thing of the past! How? Through conscious breathing, also called breathwork.
Ancient monks, masters, mystics and yogis have long used breathwork to overcome stress and anxiety. Today, corporate executives, professional athletes, Navy SEALs, and peak performers in every field use conscious breathing to manage and control their physiological, psychological and emotional states.
The fact is anyone who is willing and able to learn and practice breathwork can significantly alleviate their stress, reduce their anxiety and lower their blood pressure to some degree. You can actually reduce your cortisol levels—that's the stress hormone—by as much as 20% in as little as five minutes!
Having trained over 100,000 people from every walk of life in more than 50 countries over the last 40 years, I simply don't have the luxury of doubt. The secret is to combine conscious awareness, deliberate relaxation and paced breathing. This stuff works, especially if you develop a regular daily practice. Here's what you need to do:
Tune into your breathing. This is called mindfulness training. Is your breathing fast or slow? Deep or shallow? Smooth or irregular? Focus your attention on the feelings and sensations of the breath as it comes and goes. Where do you feel those sensations? What moves when you breathe? What muscles do you use? Begin to observe your breathing from time to time though the day, especially when you feel anxious or stressed.
Learn diaphragmatic breathing and get comfortable with a rate of four to eight breaths per minute. This is called the "therapeutic zone." You may want to aim for six breaths a minute to start, and then adjust your pace as needed or able. Breathe in through your nose and out through pursed lips, or make a "shushing" sound.
This means lengthening or extending your exhale. Slow the exhale down, and don't rush into the next inhale. Breathe in gently, breathe out slowly, and then linger for a time in a state of quiet stillness before breathing in again. Practice this three times a day for at least 5 minutes.
If you feel anxious or stressed, shake your body while you yawn and give yourself big sighs of relief for a minute or two. Loosen your muscles and wiggle your joints to release physical tension and blocked energy as you breathe in and out. Make pleasurable sounds.
Forget about how you look or what other people might think. With practice, you can learn to get more from a few minutes of breathwork than most people get from a weekend in the Bahamas!
- Just Breathe: Master Breathwork For Success In Life, Love, Business And Beyond by Dan Brulé
- The Healing Power Of Breath by Drs. Richard Brown and Pat Gerbarg
- 365 Heart Coherence by Dr. David O'Hare
for more features.