Using Breathwork for Grounding and Centering

Using Breathwork for Grounding and Centering

Before I bring someone out to the herd, or before I enter a session, I will often do a grounding exercise. The purpose of this exercise is for us to be aware of what energy. Horses like us to be congruent, meaning that we are aware of and authentic with what we are holding and feeling.

Breathwork is powerful. I like to use breathwork as a grounding exercise because it helps bring someone back into the present moment, and quickly shows them where they’re at (usually holding their breath, or breathing in a really shallow manner). 

The simple act of breathing slowly and deeply is scientifically proven to decrease the effects of stress, create coherence between the heart and brain, and help you regulate their sympathetic nervous system. At the same time, regulating your breath helps you make better decisions and decreases stress, anxiety and impulsivity. 

The two breathwork techniques that I find to be the most useful for this are the 4-4-8 technique and belly breathing. Here’s how each of these techniques work: 

4-4-8 TECHNIQUE

  • Sit up with your spine completely straight
  • Inhale through your nose for a count of four (4)
  • Hold your breath for a count of four (4)
  • Release your breath through your mouth with a wooshing sound for a count of 8
  • Repeat

BELLY BREATHING

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position
  • Put one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose and feel the hand on your belly slowly start to rise
  • Breathe out through pursed lips so you can hear your breath leave you while also bringing gentle awareness to your hands collapsing
  • Repeat 7-10 times

Using breathwork to ground and center isn’t just something that has to be done in the herd, it can be anywhere. Which technique resonates best with you. 

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