The connection between breathwork and hormone health and wellness cannot be ignored. My experience, from the very start of exploring this practice, is the perfect example.
In mid-2020, my stress hormones (cortisol) were at an all-time high. As was the case for so many of us. I was chronically in fight or flight, and as a result, I was feeling anxious, worried, and far from connected to myself.
When I started doing breathwork, I felt the stress start to melt away. This meant that I was shifting into my parasympathetic system, which is the “rest and digest” system. It’s also the opposite of fight or flight, which is when you’re in the sympathetic system.
Shifting into this parasympathetic state allowed my body to activate the “happy” hormones, like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. In this state, I felt safe and that allowed me to connect with my loved ones and myself more effectively. I was also able to release some of the anxiety and feel all the goodness that those happy hormones were sending my way.
As you know, we strive to keep our discussions here at Lindywell rooted in evidence while keeping things simple and approachable. So let’s bring some science to this scenario with a few practical tips on how to use breathwork for your hormone health and wellness.
First: Why Do Hormones Matter?
Let’s break down the key hormones that impact us as women and what they do.
- Estrogen: Estrogen keeps us on our toes! It’s a multi-purpose hormone that supports everything from your menstrual cycle to bone health and that glowing skin we’re all trying to achieve. This hormone naturally fluctuates throughout your life as a woman, all the way through menopause.
- Progesterone: Progesterone (sometimes called the feel-good hormone because it can make us feel calm—yes, please) varies throughout your cycle each month. Its main role is to prepare your body for pregnancy and support fetal development.
- Testosterone: Testosterone is not just a hormone in men! This hormone supports muscle growth, bone health, and libido for women.
- Thyroid hormones: Your thyroid hormones are the unsung heroes of health and wellness. They come from the thyroid gland and regulate many of the most popularly discussed aspects of our health, like metabolism and energy levels.
When I talk about supporting hormone health and wellness, I’m referring to the steps we can take to keep these hormones (and all the others that are at play in our bodies) in balance. This means we feel good and our body can function.
If any of these hormones are out of balance or not being produced, you may notice a wide range of symptoms. These symptoms, which depend on the type of hormone imbalance and underlying cause, can include fatigue, mood changes, weight gain, hot flashes, acne, low sex drive, depression and so much more.
How to Breathe Your Way to Healthier Hormones
Breathwork activates the parasympathetic system, and when your body is in this state, it is better able to produce and activate the hormones you need to feel safe, loved, connected, and happy. This is also when your metabolism improves, digestion works well, and your body can function exactly as it should.
While it’s not necessary to always be in one of those states to keep your hormones happy (that’s not even possible!), breathwork helps you come back to that place of “rest and digest” regularly, rather than staying in fight or flight.
The good news is, you don’t need to be experienced in the art of meditation to reap the hormone benefits of breathwork. Even better, you don’t need to spend hours each day doing it! Here’s what you need to know about using breathwork as a tool for your hormone health and wellness.
Start Slow and Simple
Breathwork can be intimidating (I get it, I’ve been there!) so I encourage you to start slow and simple with box breathing. Breathe in slowly and deeply for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, hold for another four, and start again. You may be surprised by how at ease you feel after doing this just 4 or 5 times.
You can try a guided breathwork session from yours truly in the Lindywell app! If you’re not a member, start your 14-day trial and get instant access to a variety of breathwork sessions and techniques.
Make it a Part of Your Routine
As with anything, consistency is key to success. A single breathwork session is helpful. Still, the goal is to continually bring ourselves back into the parasympathetic system over and over. This is what activates those happy hormones needed to help us thrive.
Remember that taking even just 2 or 3 minutes for breathwork can have benefits like less stress and anxiety, better focus and mental clarity, and boosted energy levels (yes, please!). Longer sessions can offer even more benefits, like better lung capacity and sleep, and the ability to release blocked emotions that are making you feel stuck or anxious.
Short daily breathing exercises are important and effective. However, longer sessions guided by an expert can increase the benefits and provide an opportunity for significant transformation. If you want to experience the power of these longer, guided breathwork sessions, reserve your spot for Exhale Hour. Join me for live breathwork sessions that deeply support you, both mind and body.
Pair Breathwork With Pilates
There are many ways to support your hormones. Breathwork is one of them and exercise is another, specifically Pilates. Research has found that this form of movement is especially beneficial for women’s hormone balance. One study saw a significant decrease in participants’ menopausal symptoms, which are directly impacted by hormone health, after practicing Pilates.
The best way to pair these two powerful hormone helpers is to join Lindywell. Sign up today and you’ll get your first 14 days for free!
Once signed up, you get immediate access to 250+ Pilates workouts, multiple guided breathwork sessions, and hundreds of recipes created to support hormone health and reduce inflammation.
Breathwork is a Powerful Partner in Hormone Health and Wellness
Our hormones want to support us, but if we’re constantly in fight or flight, we inhibit their ability to do so. This is why breathwork is so important and can’t be overlooked for your hormone health and wellness.
Deep breathing gets us into that all-important parasympathetic state, which in turn supports our hormones. When we commit to breathwork (and Pilates!), we feel happier and less stressed. In the process, we also feel more connected and our bodies can function exactly as they’re supposed to. A win-win!