Throughout our lives, we are often told to take a deep breath. Whether we are at the doctor for a checkup, moving our bodies, experiencing pain, or being overwhelmed in a situation, bringing our attention to our breath helps us navigate and relieve our possibly unpleasant experiences.
While the instinct to take a breath during these scenarios is deeply present in our minds, we may wonder how deep breathing actually aids us. The truth is that breathwork has been extremely beneficial in assisting those suffering symptoms from chronic pain, anxiety, PTSD, COPD, and other health issues.
Breathwork Benefits for the Elderly
The importance of exercise and strength training in older adults is common knowledge. Many people focus on creating a well-balanced diet regimen and regularly moving their bodies in ways that will help keep them flexible and strong. But what if there was another way to stay healthy?
Breathwork is a deeply beneficial practice. The sessions can take as little as five minutes, and those who practice breathwork regularly have decreased levels of daily stress. And stress is one of the leading causes of health issues in adults.
Breathwork teaches us to focus on our breath in its entirety. From which muscles we engage as we inhale to ensuring all the air is pressed from our lungs, breathwork requires our full attention. We can also learn how to apply this level of mindfulness in other areas of our lives.
Mindfulness is just one benefit on the seemingly endless list that breathwork has been proven to provide. Breathwork can also help with other common health issues that seniors face, like chronic pain and digestive issues, and can reduce brain fog and improve memory.
How to Safely Participate in Breathwork Sessions as an Older Adult
Breathwork is truly an inclusive practice. Almost anyone can participate safely in breathwork sessions from almost anywhere in the world.
Like all new exercises or lifestyle changes, it’s best to consult your doctor before starting your breathwork journey. You must also listen to your body, as it is common to become lightheaded or dizzy when you begin to manipulate your breath for the first time.
While you can practice breathwork by yourself, it may be more beneficial to participate in a session with others present, especially at the beginning of your breathwork journey. The more you practice, the better you will understand how your body reacts and feels during sessions, and you can better gauge your limitations.
What to Wear
Before beginning your breathwork session, be sure you are dressed in comfortable clothes. Clothing that is too tight, itchy, or bothersome can prevent your diaphragm from fully expanding or being distracting as you breathe.
Generally, loose-fitting clothes with elastic waistbands that allow enough stretch for deep breathing are best.
Where to Practice
To safely do a breathwork session, work with a trusted and trained breathwork mentor either in person or online. Ensure you are seated in a safe area and inform another individual that you will be doing a session.
You can do a breathwork session from just about anywhere, including sitting in a chair, bed, or even on the floor. Be sure that the space around you is clear. If you need additional support, practice near safety bars or a sturdy table.
It’s important to stop immediately if you begin to feel unwell and remain seated until the feeling has passed. It’s a good idea to always keep drinking water within reach during a session.
How Do I Start My Breathwork Journey?
For centuries breathwork has remained an integral part of millions of people’s lives. Today, more and more people are seeking holistic and natural approaches to well-being. Yoga and breathwork are becoming healthy habits and household terms.
Like yoga, breathwork classes are popping up everywhere. Many yoga studios also include breathwork-specific classes. Breathwork and guided breathwork training classes can also be found online, making it incredibly easy to access knowledgeable instructors and sessions to address specific health issues.
You want to ensure you are seated comfortably and safely in a chair or on the floor. You can also lie on the floor if that is more appealing to you.
Deep breathing is an excellent option for those new to breathwork. This simple exercise takes our normal breath and slows it down, creating an intentional and mindful session.
- First, place one hand on your tummy. Then put your other hand on your chest.
- Draw a deep breath into your lungs through your nose, taking care to use your diaphragm.
- Exhale through your mouth, focusing on expelling the entire breath from your lungs.
- Repeat at least three times. You should feel your stomach rise and fall with each inhale and exhale.
Similar to deep breathing, a lion’s breath is commonly used as a beginner breathwork exercise. If you have spent time in a yoga class, lion’s breath may be familiar.
- Draw a deep breath through your nose, focusing on filling your lungs with fresh air.
- Once your lungs are filled, breathe out through your mouth by opening it as wide as you can and allowing a loud “AH” sound to escape.
- This sound is meant to be loud and is thought to mimic how a lion roars.
- Lion’s breath will also help stretch and tone your jaw, face, and neck muscles.
Other types of breathwork involve inhaling for 5 seconds, holding for 5, exhaling for 5, or repeating mantras during deep breathing. Almost any type of focused breathing exercise is considered breathwork and can benefit health.
Breathwork is well suited for seniors because it’s a light exercise that offers numerous benefits. It does not require any equipment and can be done in any safe space at home with minimal supervision. It requires focus but is doable and gets easier with further practice. Breathwork is an effective exercise to help you age gracefully.
About the Author
Niraj Naik is a certified pharmacist turned holistic health and breathwork expert, professional musician, serial entrepreneur, founder of Soma Breath, and one of the world’s most sought-after spiritual ceremony facilitators.
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