We do it about 20,000 times per day. Automatically. Without thought.
We came into this World with an inhalation. We will leave this World with an exhalation. Every moment in between our entry and exit, breathing is our faithful companion.
Yet, the power of breathing is often ignored. It can be used as a powerful fuel to carry us forward on the wings of change and breath can change how we feel and how we perform at work.
Learning how to breath intentionally is one of the greatest skills for leaders who are seeking ways to positively cope with stress, manage their energy, rest for rejuvenation and optimise their performance.
If it’s so powerful why don’t more leaders breathe with intention?
Possibly because they simply may not be aware of the power of breath, or they haven’t been taught how to focus and use breathing for effective leadership.
Or, perhaps intentional breathing hasn’t been a part of their daily or life habits. I was very fortunate that my father taught me intentional breathing when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I thought everyone was taught how to breathe and how to focus and was shocked to find 15 or so years later that most people have never been taught how to breath, focus, meditate or create their future.
Breathwork is so simple that our minds can often discount it because it is easy! We’ve programmed ourselves to expect solutions from expensive, complexity when the opposite is often true.
Breathwork is so powerful it can be transformational.
And with transformation we sweep away what’s been holding us back and reveal a new, clean, clear pathway. But for many they choose not to face the often intense emotions that may surface through dedicated breath practice and instead they live in a life filled full of “stuff” they don’t want.
As someone who, since childhood, has integrated breathwork into everything I do, I also integrated breathwork into business improvement, leadership development, 1:1 executive coaching and therapeutics.
There are many ways to breathe with intention and like anything in life or business having clarity of the outcome is essential. Knowing whether you wish to feel full of vitality and wide awake or whether you want to enhance the feeling of calm will inform which practice to choose. Some breath practices include bellows breath, kapalabhati, threefold breath, alternate nostril breathing, box breath or simply a satisfying physiological sigh – each will give you a different outcome. One thing each breathing technique has in common is the ability of every person to make a constructive energy shift.
When to Consider Using Intentional Breath
Consider for a moment that an intentional, mindful breath has the ability to help a leader transform fatigue into vitality, anxiety into relaxation or take a breath to disrupt a toxic thought or act that may be permeating through the team.
Here are 4 situations you may consider to focus on your breathing:
- Before a presentation. Breath to interrupt anxious thoughts. This may be a big presentation, a sales pitch or a weekly networking meeting. You can bring greater clarity, intention and vitality to your presentation whilst remaining calm and present.
- During a team meeting. A couple of minutes of intentional team breathing can set a calm, focused, steady tone for working together. Please remember that inviting anyone to join you for a breathing exercise is an invitation and should never be forced onto anyone – someone may be contraindicated from intentional breathwork or be experiencing a physical pain which would be exacerbated by intentional breathing. Be kind. Be courteous. Be respectful.
- After a work crisis. A few minutes breathing can bring a sense of acceptance and learning to a missed deadline that seriously impacted the business. It can also help you support your team too.
- Anywhere, anytime to maintain inner balance. Develop your own self-care ritual as a foundation for choosing you first which in turn supports your enlightened leadership journey.
To learn more about intentional breathwork you can contact me for 1:1 coaching.