A few weeks ago, I attended a Commonwealth Club meeting by Valerie Moselle who wrote the book Breathwork: A 3-Week Breathing Program to Gain Clarity, Calm, and Better Health. Tow things I learned, I immediately put into practice.
First is the concept of “Resistance Breathing” – passing air with resistance through the throat, like singing “ha” when you breathe in (lung expanding – a few practices would make this much easier) and breathe out (lung collapsing). As I practice this, I can feel my breath become slower and fuller. What is the benefit of this? Slow, deep, full breathing helps to moderate the stress response in our body. The more oxygen you can give to your body and cells, the healthier they can be. I found the best time to practice this – before I close my eyes in the bed. The practice of resistance breathing completely makes me sleepy, and I can easily fall asleep.
Second is the importance of the hormone, oxytocin (the bliss hormone, the hormone of well-being), which increases when you slow down your breath. Often, people confuse dopamine with oxytocin, with the former giving pleasure but not providing well-being, which to me is more important for health.
What are the activities that release more oxytocin?
- getting a massage
- giving someone’s a hug for 30 seconds
- playing with pets
- singing in groups
- eating chocolate
One time, I hurt my ankle pretty badly and was limping. Once I attended the community choir and sang with a big group, I not only could stand for hours, but my pain was gone, and I could walk again. Such was the power of Oxytocin!
To aid my practice of breathing, I have begun using the Balance app, which provides personalized meditation with the help of a “personal” coach. The app is really beautiful and clean and clearly engages you. The foundation course is about breath control. There are tracks for you to adapt to your needs such as “energize”, “wind-down”, “anxiety”, “relax”, “sleep”, “commute”, which appear to be all free. Many users have commented that many meditation apps do not stick, but this one does. I tend to agree.