Welcome to the MOTHER MINDFULNESS SERIES:
A series of Q&A’s with various experts that goes beyond topical products (and internal products) and instead focuses on the indirect influences of skin health.
When you live in a chronic state of stress, routinely bathing your body in cortisol, it becomes harder and harder for the skin to repair itself naturally or to continue to form healthy collagen levels. This is where Breathwork steps in……
Meet our first guest, Meg Sanderson from School of Breath. Meg is not only a breath teacher but also a yoga teacher, wellbeing consultant & counsellor - so she knows her stuff when it comes to calming the mind.
I was first introduced to ‘breathwork’ through Meg last year. My stress levels were through the roof and meditation/yoga just wasn’t cutting it. Learning to breathe correctly has honestly been life changing! (Thanks Meg!) My stress levels have calmed, my concentration levels have dramatically improved and I have noticed my skin looks clearer and more radiant - thanks to the daily increased oxygen supply it’s now getting!
When people think of health, they think exercise, sleep, nutrition etc but breathing is something that usually doesn’t spring to mind. Why do you think this is so?
This is so true and I think it’s purely because people take the breath for advantage. It’s an automatic action that happens in the body without needing to think about it (not that it’s always the correct way of breathing). However, the breath is actually a key ingredient to optimal vitality and health and hopefully over time this changes so more people do start to include breathwork into their health regimes.
Yet we now know that there is nothing more essential to our health and wellbeing than breathing - why is it so important? How do our physical, mental and emotional states benefit so greatly from it?
Breathing correctly or engaging in breath exercises to help condition the lungs and body bring SOOO many benefits to our health, some of these including:
- Generates creative thinking
- Improves focus & concentration
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety
- Reduces mental chatter
- Reduces symptoms of burnout
- Lowers heart rate and blood pressure
- Activates the calming response
- Improves digestion
- Increases immunity
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves sleeping patterns
- Boosts self esteem
- Reduces social anxiety
- Strengthens relationships
- Strengthens trust bonds in relationships
- Increases release of feel good hormones: oxytocin, melatonin & dopamine
- Increases positive emotions: joy, compassion, happiness, love
- Assists with emotional regulation
What are the most immediate noticeable benefits of a daily breathwork practice?
It’s a little different for everybody, but for me and from the feedback I’ve received from students in classes, I’d say the feeling of calm throughout the body and the quietening of mental chatter in the mind.
** From MOTHER SPF - Breathwork is my biggest “hack” for cultivating energy at the moment. When I am exhausted but still have a long day ahead of me I will take 10 minutes and do a breathing practice. It’s like I have just had a coffee!
We hold unconscious stress and trauma within our body without even realising. Any suggestions or tips on how to start connecting back to yourself? Is this where breathing helps?
Breathwork is the perfect starting point to connecting back to yourself if you are someone who has experienced some form of trauma or if you have been holding stress in the body for long periods of time. We call this reconnection back to the body ‘reassociation’. In short, breathwork facilitates this as it encourages focus on your body whilst breathing and through the movement of the diaphragm in breathwork it tones a large nerve in the body known as the vagus nerve. Vagal tone turns on the calming part of the nervous system - the calmer you are, the more you can feel – hence the reconnection.
I have noticed in some of your breathwork practices you hold the breath - What does this do?
Holding the breath after a series of breath sequences activates the ‘Parasympathetic Nervous System’ which is also commonly known as the rest and digest response in the body or the calming response. The Parasympathetic Nervous System is responsible for healing cells in the body and encourages the organs of the body to turn on and function at their optimum.
How does breathwork “detox” the body? Which in return can greatly benefit our digestion and skin health.
Breathwork detoxes the body by boosting our metabolism helping foods to break down quicker, stimulating the liver and kidney assisting in the filtration of toxins from the body and by increasing the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide around the body filling our cells with fresh oxygen providing them with lots of collagen, giving our skin that dewy glowy look and our body that fit, healthy feeling. Breathwork also helps to regulate the body’s natural thermostat, when this is working well toxins are able to be filtered out of the system quicker allowing for greater detoxification within.
Besides breathwork, do you have any other tools for helping to calm the nervous system?
Yes, I have many. This is my forte and something I love to talk about on a daily basis. Some other tools that can help assist in calming the nervous system
- Talk therapy
These are all practices that help you to reconnect to your body and allow you to feel safe in your body. When the body feels safe, the body is calm which in turn means the body stays under the influence of the calming response for longer periods of time.
What is your favourite way to calm your mind? Or do you have some form of daily ritual?
Breathwork is definitely my go to in terms of calming my mind and body. That followed by a daily meditation practice and daily movement – walking, yoga, yin or pilates.
I always feel my best when I start the day with a breathwork and meditation - it sets the tone for the day. I also like to breathe and meditate before bed if I’ve had a busier day at work or feeling a little overwhelmed with life things. Generally I’ll set aside 30 minutes a day for this and if I have some extra time on my hands I’ll push it out and make the practices longer.
You have created an incredible platform (Breath TV) for those interested to get started on their journey with breathwork, I know I have benefited incredibly from it. Do you have a practice on Breath TV you would recommend to begin with? Or any suggestions on the best way to get started with breathwork?
Thank you. It is a great platform for those interested in breathwork or who are wanting to do breathwork in the comfort of their own environment and can't make it to classes. The guided practices on there run anywhere from 5 minutes – 30 minutes depending on how much time you have to spare and depending on what you are hoping to get out of it.
All the practices are so different so it’s hard to pinpoint one as a starting point. What I would rather suggest is look at what feeling you are trying to create within the body – if its more energy, try the energising practices like morning boost or transform.
If it’s to feel calmer, try the wind down or calm practices. I would recommend checking out the breathology part of breathe tv too. Here I provide education on specific techniques in breathwork which can help individuals understand what they are doing better.
Here is the link to Breathe TV for those wanting to try it out https://www.schoolofbreath.com.au/breathe-tv
You can also follow School of Breath here: https://www.instagram.com/schoolofbreath/