A few weeks ago we reached out to our lovely IG audience and asked you all if you do daily breathing exercises. The response? 26% of you said ‘yes!’, which is great. But that means 3 out of 4 of you don’t use breathwork on a regular basis. However, after you meet our newest Baby2Body Expert we think that’s all going to change.
Before we go any further we want to recognize the perceived barriers to breathwork, because girl, we’ve been there too! We know that the practice of ‘meditation’ and breathing exercises can come off as slightly intimidating and it can feel like another thing we just don’t really have time for. And then you ask yourself: is it really going to benefit me anyway? The short answer is yes it really will benefit you and it’s a lot easier to get into than you think, especially if you have the right person guiding you.
Meet Amrita Das. We are delighted to introduce you to her, as she is one of our newest experts on breathwork and meditation. If you’ve been on the fence about either practice, we’re convinced she’ll change your outlook within minutes. We’ve done a few sessions with her ourselves and she’s just got something special, and we can’t wait to work with her more to bring you all some great things (hint, hint!).
But we want to introduce her properly first. So, here is our earlier catchup with Amrita, where she shares her experience, the importance of breathwork, and how we can effectively incorporate it into our lives.
Baby2Body: Tell us a bit about you and how you got into becoming a breathwork practitioner?
Amrita: My background couldn’t be further away from breathwork! My career has been in international marketing, burning the candle at both ends, finding myself stressed and exhausted. I went on a personal journey to find ways to be happier, looking into the science of wellbeing and ancient practices. A great thinker once defined wisdom as ‘the knowledge of how to cope with life’. Breathwork and meditation have both been ways in which I’ve got just a little bit wiser.
What is breathwork and why is it important to do?
Amrita: Breathwork can change your life. Not in the mind-blowing-major-epiphany type-way but in a more realistic simple-new-habits way. It is a practice of breathing techniques that allow you to control the patterns of your breath. By doing this you can control what messages you are sending to your brain from your body.
Our brains are concerned primarily with keeping us safe by preparing us for danger. By controlling our breath we are signaling our brains that we are safe, and this reduces our fear, anxiety and stress. We don’t always have the solutions to our perceived problems but we can try to manage our reactions to them. Coming back to our breath is a way for us to take small moments of control, during the ups and downs of daily life.
Who do you find benefits most from breathwork practice?
I think everyone can benefit from taking control of their breath. If you ever feel busy, overwhelmed, ‘tired and wired’, or just plain exhausted, concentrating on your breath is a proven way to ground yourself. You can’t always control the pace of life (especially as a busy mother) but you can try to control your experience of the tempo.
One thing we hear a lot from our users is that they don’t have time or patience to meditate. Would you consider breathwork the same as mediation?
Both are important practices (I think we’ll be talking about meditation at another time!) but I think breathwork is a much easier place to start. You can immediately get going in a few minutes and you’re off! You can instantly connect to your body and come into the present moment. Some of the simplest breathing techniques can be the most powerful. Everyone can breathe.
How long — or how often — do I have to do breathwork to see results?
A few minutes everyday is more effective than longer infrequent sessions. If you can take 3-5 minutes twice a day, you’ll feel the benefits immediately. After a few weeks, you will feel real change.
What does breathwork do to the body? How will it make me feel?
Regular breathwork helps us regulate our autonomic nervous system (ANS). Our ANS is made up of two balancing systems; our sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ nervous system (SNS) which kicks us into action and releases stress hormones and our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) which helps us ‘rest and digest’, restoring our energy and reducing inflammation.
Both systems are powerful and necessary but sometimes, particularly if you suffer from chronic stress and anxiety, our SNS can continue to stay highly active when not needed and our PNS can be under-active. Conscious breathing helps us cope with anxiety and stress by changing our physiological state to feel more calm and relaxed. Regular practice can also help lower blood pressure, boost your immune system and increase heart rate variability.
Is breathwork safe to do during pregnancy? Are there any precautions you would recommend taking?
Breathwork is an umbrella term for many techniques. Some are not suitable for pregnant women or people with cardiovascular heath issues. I would make sure you only follow trusted teachers and don’t take quick, forceful breaths when you’re pregnant. If at any time you feel dizzy or faint, stop immediately. As with all physical practices, listen to your body.
How and when would you recommend a busy mom try and incorporate this into her day?
If you can wake up and do 3-5 minutes, it can be a great way to start the day with energy. And then in the evening, take another 3-5 minutes to wind down for the end of the day.
Before we go, what is the key takeaway or benefit of regular breathwork that you want everyone to know?
Breathwork can be a part of your toolbox for self-care. These micro-moments of control add up to help you feel calmer, more grounded and more yourself. Sometimes in our busy lives we can feel like we are running on fumes, only being there to care for others. Coming back to your breath is coming back to you.
Amrita will be back again soon with an introduction to meditation.
Amrita is the founder of Freedom School (www.freedomschool.life), which helps people thrive through resilience & mindset coaching programmes. She teaches breathwork, meditation, yoga and is currently training in Somatic Stress Release™. She has also trained in the science of wellbeing and embodied neuroscience with CPE from UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center and the University of Pennsylvania.