Kickstart your New Year with SI Swimsuit’s 31 Days of Wellness! This January, SI Swimsuit will unlock exclusive offerings with brand models, wellness experts, fitness gurus and more, who will guide you through 31 days of rejuvenating workouts, recipes and self-care rituals.
So far this month, 2024 SI Swimsuit rookie Penny Lane has taught us how to create an energizing morning routine and shared the top 10 superfoods she enjoys incorporating into her diet for maintaining a nutritious—and fulfilling—diet.
Today, the certified holistic health coach is here to help us deal with stress. While we all have different ways to decompress when we’re anxious, the 29-year-old Cheshire, England native relies on one tactic in particular: breathwork.
“Utilizing specific breathing techniques is a powerful tool in stress reduction from a holistic health perspective,” Lane explains. “Deep, intentional breathwork engages the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a shift from the stress-induced fight-or-flight response to a more relaxed state.”
She cites diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing or alternate nostril breathing as methods that can help enhance oxygen intake, calm the mind and balance the body at once.
“This not only reduces cortisol levels but also fosters mental clarity and emotional balance,” the 2023 Swim Search co-winner says. “Moreover, conscious breathing helps cultivate mindfulness, allowing individuals to stay present and manage stressors more effectively. Incorporating these techniques into a daily routine promotes overall well-being, addressing the interconnected nature of mind, body and spirit.”
Lane’s two favorite breathing techniques
While there are numerous breathing techniques that can help regulate stress, Lane personally prefers deep belly breathing and the 4-7-8 method.
“If you have ever seen a baby sleep, you can see when they breathe. They take a breath and their belly rises, they exhale and their belly deflates,” she says. “I like this exercise, as I think this visual is useful for two reasons. Firstly, it calms you down, but secondly, if you visualize yourself as the happy baby breathing blissfully [and] feeling safe, it puts your mind into a state of calm.”
Her other go-to method, which is a favorite among the yogi community, requires you to inhale through your nose for a count of four. The breath is then held for seven seconds before being exhaled for a count of eight through your mouth. Lane notes that the pattern has a calming effect and also works to reduce the heart rate.
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The benefits of regular breathwork
While breath exercises are a great way to deal with stressors, Lane reminds us that regular breathwork offers great benefits to mind, body and spirit.
“Consistent practice enhances mindfulness, reducing stress and promoting emotional resilience. Physiologically, it optimizes respiratory function, improving oxygenation for increased energy and cellular health,” she explains. “The engagement of the parasympathetic nervous system contributes to long-term cardiovascular and immune health. Emotionally, it fosters mental clarity, creativity and better sleep. Beyond the physical and mental, breathwork has a spiritual dimension, cultivating inner peace and connection.”
Tune in next Wednesday, Jan. 24, for the next installment of Lane’s wellness series, in which she discusses the relationship between hormones and nutrition.