How Using Meals As A Breath Session Can Make Your Digestion 100X Better
Big emotions have a tendency to visit during big family meals, like the ones many people will have for Easter and Passover this weekend. The breath is your best friend to turn to during these times to begin feeling more aligned, balanced, and joyous—even when others at your table may not be.
As I've seen while writing my new book Breath LOVE , and working with the International Breathwork Foundation, our bodies are always responding to what’s happening around us. Anxiety and stress, even small amounts, make our heart beat faster, our blood pressure rise, and could cause our brain to release chemicals that make us feel jumpy and jittery. Studies continue to back up what many of us instinctively know: Our emotional and physical well-being are closely linked, and mastering things like breathing may be the key to establishing a healthier baseline.
How to practice breathwork during meals—especially ones that might be triggering.
The heavy food often enjoyed during the holidays can cause physical discomfort. Not to mention, the intense conversations that can occur over a family dinner table can stir up a lot of emotions. Luckily, establishing a breathwork practice can help soothe these mental and physical symptoms by boosting the immune system, increasing lung capacity, and improving digestion.
Staying balanced and calm at the table could be as simple as remembering to take slow, deep inhales every few moments. The calmer we are, the easier it is for us to digest our food, always. From that foundation, you can start to add on some other quick breathwork practices to make your next meal more pleasant, starting this weekend.
A breathwork routine to practice at the dinner table.
1. Set an intention.
What you put your attention to grows. Let’s start with creating an intention for ourselves. On our way to dinner, even before you walk in the door, you could say to yourself, “I am calm and cool. I digest my food with ease.” Saying an intention while taking a few conscious breaths helps manifest our intention.
2. Take a few sighs before the meal begins.
Then, try some silent sighs at the table. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. With the exhale let it all go. Let go of any worry or stress. Think of the exhale as a silent sigh. Release, release, release and you should start feeling more relaxed and balanced by your tenth breath.
3. Do a diaphragmatic breathing exercise.
The next step could be to begin diaphragmatically breathing while waiting for your salad, breathing belly to chest. This brings the body into a rest-and-digest mode. You could try to fold your arms over your belly, breathing the arms out on the inhale and completely melting on the exhale. No one will even know you’re doing it!
4. When you find yourself feeling stressed, come back to the breath.
When we begin to feel tight or constricted, we start to smooth our inhale and exhale. Inhaling for the count of five and exhaling for the count of five can begin to calm your heart rate and put you in a clearer space to be able to respond from a place of wisdom.
By the time you’ve breathed through dinner Aunt Susie can pontificate all she wants and your body and mind will still be calm and centered. At the end of the meal, take a walk around the block. It’s always a good idea to walk after a meal, and nature is healing. Be sure to drink lots of water before and after the meal to rehydrate, too.
Using these tips, you can ride the emotional wave of the family meal with a smile, and your belly will thank you.
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