Harnessing The Power of Breathwork: A Pathway to Self-Care

Amidst the ceaseless demands and pressures of the New York City lifestyle, finding moments of tranquility and self-nurturance becomes paramount. While many self-care practices ecist, one often overlooked yet profoundly crucial option is breathwork. We may think about our favorite "self-care" practices as getting a massage or going to a yoga class, but consider that what lies at the center of those self-care moments is actually giving ourselves a chance to breathe.


At the epicenter of this practice lies the diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle separating the thoracic and abdominal cavities. With each inhalation, the diaphragm contracts to expanding the lungs, but more importantly to initiate a cascade of physiological responses. Controlled by the vagus nerve, these physiological responses include lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, modulating inflammation, impact your GI tract and digestion, and most importantly: decreasing your stress response. 


One measurable indicator of your body's physiological stress response is HRV, a metric that has emerged as one of the most trendy to capture with today's wearable devices (Whoop vs. Oura, anyone?). Elevated HRV signifies a resilient autonomic nervous system, capable of swiftly adapting to stressors, whereas diminished HRV signals the contrary—a system beleaguered by chronic stress. A conscientious breathwork practice can directly impact your HRV in the moment as well as over time, demonstrating a lasting impact on your body's stress tolerance. 


To help you get started on your breathwork journey, here are a few resources from the MOTIVNY community, whether you are just curious or fully committed.


  • To nerd out: Yogabody
    • Lucas Rockwood offers education-based courses for you to truly understand your breath, in formats from youtube videos to 21-day courses to full certifications.
  • To stay accountable: Open
    • A beautiful sensory-forward app, Open makes it easy for you to keep breathwork in your daily routine, with guided meditations of different lengths and purposes.
  • To double up: Kinstretch
    • Check your mobility and breathwork box here at MOTIVNY with our Kinstretch class, a practice that is rooted in using breath to channel more strength and flexibility. 


The next time you go for a self-care day whether it be a day at the nail salon or the mountain trails, observe how your breath changes. Notice how breath is actually the common denominator of all the self-care routines we put in place for ourselves, and consider how working on your breath may be the best self-care of all. 



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