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- 25JunEvery Breath You Take
“Breath is the link between mind and body.” - Dan Brulé
Breathwork has been around for hundreds of years. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, written some 2500 years ago, the practice of breath control or breath therapy is termed pranayama, and it is one of eight ‘limbs’ of Ashtanga or Classical Yoga.
Pranayama is a Sanskrit word derived from prana - meaning life force or breath - and ayama, which means stretching or restraining. Pranayama can thus be roughly translated to mean breath suspension or control. It is believed that controlling the breath determines the flow of energy and ‘life force’ throughout the body. In Hatha yoga texts and ancient Hindu scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali’s sutras, pranayama refers to the complete cessation of breathing. While there are some pranayama practices that involve stopping or holding the breath for extended periods of time, the majority of pranayama practised in modern times is focused on the control of the breath’s duration, flow and rhythm.
Breathwork or breath therapy is said to help with a number of things, including sharpening concentration and focus, reducing stress and anxiety, calming the body, improving or maintaining lung capacity, promoting cardiovascular health, boosting the mood, and preserving longevity. Breath exercises are often paired with holistic health practices such as meditation and mindfulness, and disciplines such as yoga, tai chi and qigong. There are a number of breathwork masters around the world, including our very own Dr Ela Manga – a South African medical doctor who incorporates breathwork into her practice - as well as Dan Brulé, a celebrated breathwork coach who has worked with celebrities, Navy Seals and, notably, world-renowned philanthropist, author and life coach Tony Robbins.
Breathwork is a popular and well-loved practice, and can be employed for a number of different uses due to its wide range of uniquely beneficial techniques.
Five Breathwork Techniques for Any Occasion
“Breath awareness and conscious breathing is the absolute foundation in the management of health, stress, and energy... Breathwork sessions will help you build a set of breathing techniques that can be applied in every aspect of your life.” - Dr Ela Manga
There is a wide range of different and uniquely beneficial types of pranayama, so there is an exercise for just about everything! This handy guide will walk you through five of the key techniques, each of which can be applied for a different purpose.
If you begin to feel dizzy or light-headed at any point during your practice, stop immediately and return to your normal breathing.
Dirga Swasam for Stress Management
Dirga Swasam is also known as ‘three-part breath’, referring to the movement of the breath through the chest, ribs and belly. It is a very simple and easy technique, and a great introduction to the practice of pranayama. Performing it for just 10 minutes each day will help you to maintain your composure and tackle the challenges that life throws at you.
- Begin in the savasana or ‘corpse’ pose – lying down with your feet relaxed and your palms facing up – for maximum relaxation. You can also perform this technique in a seated position if that is more comfortable for you.
- Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest, and take five slow, deep breaths, paying attention to how your breath moves through your body.
- You will notice that when you inhale, your belly will expand, followed by your ribcage and finally your chest. On your exhale, the flow will be reversed as the air is released, first from your chest or heart centre, then from the rib cage, and finally from the belly.
- If it feels comfortable for you, modify your breathing by breaking it into the three parts. On your inhale, breathe in until your belly is full, pause for a few seconds and then slowly draw in more breath to expand the ribcage before pausing again, and finally finishing your exhalation by bringing air into your chest. Exhale slowly, again separating the flow into its three parts by releasing the breath in increments to lower first the chest, then the ribcage, and finally the belly.
- Release your hands to the ground, palms facing up, and return to a smooth flow, letting the breath move naturally through these three parts. You can continue to practise for as long as you need in order to calm your mind and lower your heart rate.
- Once you feel still and relaxed, slowly bring feeling back to your body by first wiggling your fingers and toes, and eventually rising to a comfortable seated position. Take three deep breaths, raising your arms to the sky on your inhale and bringing your hands together at your heart on your exhale to welcome peace and calm to your day.
Ujjayi for Focus
Ujjayi breathing involves slightly constricting the throat as you breathe, and is sometimes referred to as ‘victorious’ or ‘ocean’ breath due to the sounds made while practising. This is a great technique to stimulate and energise the body in order to sharpen your focus and improve concentration.
- Begin in a comfortable seated position.
- Close your eyes and let your shoulders relax and fall away from your ears. Focus on releasing any tension in your face and body.
- Breathing through your mouth, inhale deeply and exhale slowly for five breaths.
- On your exhales, begin to constrict the back of your throat slightly so that you are restricting the passage of air. Try to imagine that you are fogging up a pair of glasses.
- When you feel comfortable with this, maintain the throat constriction through your inhalation as well as your exhalation – you should be producing an audible hissing sound (think Darth Vader!).
- Once you have mastered this, close your mouth and continue to constrict the throat as you breathe through your nose. Repeat for 10 breaths, with intent focus on the rhythm and sound of your breathing.
- With your eyes still closed, slowly return to your normal breathing until you feel calm and steady. Open your eyes and rise to meet the challenges of the day.
Kapalabhati for Energy
‘Kapalabhati’ can be loosely translated to mean ‘shining skull’ in Sanskrit, and involves short, powerful exhalations and passive inhalations that are naturally triggered by the expansion of your lungs and abdomen. This is an intense practice that brings energy and stimulation to the brain and body, and some practitioners believe that it can assist in the detoxification process.
- Begin in a comfortable seated position with your back straight and your eyes closed, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Place one hand on your stomach and inhale deeply. When you exhale, focus on contracting your abdominal muscles and pulling your belly button towards your spine (you will be able to feel the movement of your muscles with you hand).
- After your exhale, allow your abdominal muscles to relax and your lungs to fill with air. Try not to focus on breathing in, but rather allow the movement of the muscles to control your inhalation.
- Continue with this movement, contracting your muscles as you exhale, and releasing them on the inhale. The more powerful the exhale, the more passive your inhalation will be. You are aiming to produce short, forceful breaths with a pattern similar to that of a dog panting.
- Once you have mastered this technique, repeat for 10 breaths and then allow your breathing to slowly return to normal. Focus on releasing any tension in the body, and pay attention to how each muscle feels.
- When you are ready, repeat your kapalbhati breathing for another 10 breaths.
- Arise renewed, refreshed and energised.
Nadi Shodhana for a Mood Boost
This is one of the most well-known forms of pranayama, and is sometimes referred to as ‘alternate nostril breathing’. It’s a fantastic practice for days when you are feeling the blues, as it forces you to focus on your breath, your body and the movement of your fingers.
- Begin in a comfortable seated position with your eyes closed.
- Raise your right hand, and use your thumb to close your right nostril as you inhale deeply through the left nostril. Hold here for a few seconds.
- While you are holding your inhalation, remove your thumb and use your ring and pinkie fingers to block your left nostril. Exhale slowly through the right nostril.
- Keeping your left nostril closed, inhale deeply through the right nostril. Hold, unblock the left nostril, and close the right nostril with your thumb. Exhale slowly.
- Repeat for 10 breaths.
- Release both nostrils and take five deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Repeat your nadi shodana for 10 more breaths, this time using your left hand.
Bhramari for Crisis Management
Also known as the ‘humming bee breath’, this pranayama technique is perfect for moments of peak stress, anxiety, sensory overload and anxiety attacks. It’s a calming practice that calls for you to cover your eyes and block your ears, allowing you to shut out external stressors and focus purely on your breath.
- Sit in a comfortable position on a chair or the floor.
- Close your eyes and take three deep breaths.
- Use your thumbs to block your ears by pressing down on the tragus. Place your index fingers just above your brow bone, and allow your other fingers to cover your eyes, with your middle fingers pressing very gently against the sides of your nose.
- Keeping your mouth closed, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale slowly while making a humming sound with your throat (it should sound like a bee buzzing).
- Repeat for at least five breaths, and continue for as long as you need in order to steady your breath, calm your heart rate, and quiet your mind.
- 21MaySonja's Supplements of the Month
Our National Training Manager Sonja Hindley gives us an insight into the powerful plants of our indigenous soils, and lists some of her favourite winter supplements...
Medicinal plants have been our allies for centuries, and numerous cultures still rely on indigenous plants for their primary health care needs. There has been a major resurgence of interest in the benefits of traditional medicine, and we are starting to tap into the powerful history of indigenous wisdom in South Africa. While scanning our shelves, you may have noticed African potato, aloe ferox, rooibos, buchu, devil’s claw and sceletium – these are all beautiful, healing plants from African and South African soil.
While we stock a wide variety of super supplements, my current favourites for winter immune support are:
Sutherlandia is a traditional African herbal supplement that was first used by the Khoi and Nama people as a multipurpose adaptogen. Because of its adaptability, sutherlandia has several vernacular names which reference its ethnomedicinal significance. These include “phetola” which means “it changes” in Setswana, referring to the plant’s ability to change the course of (i.e. remedy) a multitude of illnesses.
You can use sutherlandia in a tincture, or try out the Wellness Herbal Sutherlandia Tea with added peppermint and ginger for maximum immune support.
Pelargonium sidoides, also known as the black geranium or Cape pelargonium, is a plant that has long been used in South African traditional medicine. Pelargonium is bacterio-static, meaning that it inhibits the growth and reproduction of bacteria, and it may be used to assist with the treatment of acute and chronic upper respiratory tract infections (coughs, colds, ear, nose and throat ailments).
Trying using a pelargonium tincture, such as the Wellness Pelargonium Oral Drops, at the onset of infection to assist in treatment.
The baobab tree is known as the tree of life, and with good reason – for centuries it has provided animal and human inhabitants of the African savannahs with shelter, clothing, cordage, medicine, food, and water. It is a powerful antioxidant superfood thanks to its high vitamin C levels, as well as it’s impressive mineral content which includes calcium, magnesium and potassium. The prebiotic fibre in baobab feeds beneficial gut bacteria to keep the health of your gastrointestinal and immune systems humming.
- 22AprHelp a Frontline Fighter Today
One of our top priorities at Wellness Warehouse is to do our part in uplifting our community so that we can all live #WELLTogether. As we have struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown, there has been a beautiful outpouring of support, love and appreciation for our healthcare workers, who are selflessly and courageously putting their lives on the line to protect the weak and vulnerable. But there is another class of hero that is not celebrated nearly enough – the frontline fighters in all other industries.
Store cashiers, cleaners, pharmacists, security guards, civil servants, and a host of other essential workers have continued to perform their duties in this time of crisis so that we may get the goods and services that we need. Along with their own personal, familial and financial responsibilities, these exceptional individuals carry the responsibility of ensuring that society continues to function during and after the coronavirus crisis. In addition, these workers face an increased risk of infection and illness as they continue to battle the outside world while the majority of us stay safe and healthy inside our homes.
Something has to be done, and we are the ones to do it.
Although lockdown may keep us apart, we are all in this together. We are being called to support and protect the bravest and most vulnerable among us so that we may rise from this with strength and unity and live #WELLTogether.
And so, as part of our continued efforts to support our unsung heroes, we are running a donation drive to supply frontline workers with face masks and hand sanitiser. All you have to do is purchase a protective face mask from us at cost (either online or in store), and we will add hand sanitiser and donate these items to a frontline fighter on your behalf.
- 16MarApril - June 2020 Editor's Choice
From CBD supplements and ambient home touches to natural beauty and free-from foods, our magazine editor reviews this season’s must-have products.
- 18FebNATURAL HAIR CARE ESSENTIALS
The past few years have seen a great transformation as natural hair care products have taken the place of chemically-laden shampoos, conditioners and supplements. This means that our hair can enjoy wholesome and planet-friendly nourishment, rather than the suspect and damaging commercial products that have been pushed on us for years.There are tons of benefits to treating your locks with nature’s best! Here are just three of our favourites:
- 11FebFinding the Quiet Inside
You’ve no doubt read or heard something about meditation as the secret sauce to a happier, healthier and more productive life. If this simple and free practice really does enable us to tap into the golden luminous nature of existence that doesn’t sweat the small stuff… why aren’t more of us doing it?
- 11FebConfessions of a Teen on Social Media
As adults, we can postulate about the effects of social media on the younger generation. We may feel concern about our children’s engagement with the platforms, or even wonder what life would have been like if we had grown up in a world captured on – and largely dictated to by – Instagram, Facebook (although already outdated), Twitter and Snapchat.
But how accurate are we in our assumptions of the toll the technology is really taking on the youngsters of today? We ask 17-year-old Tayla de Bruyn to enlighten us.
- 11FebThe most good you can do
According to moral philosopher and utilitarian Peter Singer, we should be donating every spare cent we have to charity. As you can imagine, this hard-line moral obligation argument has not enamoured Singer to all. The guilt-inducing example for which he is most (in)famous is that of a child drowning in a shallow pond. If you walked past said pond, would you jump in and save the child’s life, or would you not want to run the risk of ruining your expensive clothes? If you saved the child, congratulations - you have proven yourself to be a moral human being.
- 10FebThe Economics of Enough
“Growth is one of the stupidest purposes ever invented by any culture,” commented systems thinker Donella Meadows at a 1994 sustainability conference in Costa Rica. “The only reason it can be sold so easily in every policy arena is because there is no alternative vision on offer,” she continues. “We’ve got to have enough.”
- 10FebIce, Ice, Maybe
Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He has set Guinness World Records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and still holds the record for a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow.
Lara Potgieter, also known as The Editor, is a South African extreme non-athlete noted for her inability to withstand cool temperatures. She has set a world record for remaining in an ice bath for the shortest period of time ever completed by a participant on a Wim Hof Method training weekend.
- 10FebAfrica’s Largest Vegan Event
More and more people are starting to explore a plant-based diet, whether for health, ethical or environmental reasons. The Economist even labelled 2019 ‘The Year of the Vegan’, marking the lifestyle’s firm entrenchment in the mainstream.
- 06FebWired for Relationship
A desire for connection and understanding is deeply wired into the human psyche. From the moment of birth, we are neurologically primed to seek out close attachment bonds with others, as human babies cannot survive without someone to take care of their basic needs.
- 03FebEat the Rainbow
It’s important to eat a variety of veg and fruit, as each contains a whole spectrum of different vitamins and minerals - all of which play a part in keeping our bodies healthy and happy. Explore the benefits of eating a rainbow of different colours with this handy list...
- 27JanCHRONIC PAIN: OUR EXPERTS WEIGH IN
We ask our in-store Wellness Consultants for their advice on addressing chronic pain.
- 27JanThe Ins & Outs of Male Sexuality
Our sexuality lies at the core of what makes us human, contributing significantly to our sense of overall wellbeing and – in particular - what it means to be a man. A doctor explores the often-oversimplified field of men’s sexual wellbeing.
- 27JanHealth and Wellness Checklist for Women
Each decade of a woman’s life brings with it new needs and opportunities. While the best advice, generally, is to know your body and recognise any unexpected orabnormal changes, you may also want to follow this general overview of suggested check-ups…
- 17JanA WORD FROM OUR CEO
Simon Alston shares what’s sprouting at Wellness this year
- 17JanJanuary - March 2020 Editor’s Choice
From superfood snacks to natural beauty hacks, we review this season’s must-have products.
- 13JanCreating Your Zero-waste Home
“Refuse what you do not need, reduce what you do need, reuse what you consume, recycle what you cannot refuse, and compost the rest.”
– Bea Johnson (Author of “Zero Waste Home”)
- 15OctCapturing Confidence
Confidence. Perhaps you feel you’ve never had it, or you used to have it until that thing that happened to leave you drowning in a sea of self-doubt.
- 15OctTowards Conscious Commerce
Large corporations today employ between 200 to 400 times more people than what populated any of Europe’s most prominent medieval cities. It’s predicted that by 2020, the size of the global middle class will have almost tripled to 4.9 billion, from 1.8 billion in 2009.
At last count, the number of unique mobile connections operating across the internet outnumbered humans by1.2 billion. This dense interconnectivity removes the effect of the physical barriers (like oceans and mountains) that forced separation between nations. It also means that more machines than humans are communicating with one another to share information about and make decisions on behalf of humans in real time.
- 15OctDo Your Om Thing
My relationship with yoga is a complicated one. I’ve become fast friends with some poses, while engaging in long-standing feuds with others. It’s taken me some time to accept that yoga is not about performance, but practice – both on and off the mat.
- 10OctOctober - December 2019 Editor's Choice
Our magazine editor Lara Potgieter reviews her favourite products for the season.
- 03OctGREEN HOME A-Z
Transform your home into an eco-haven and decrease your carbon footprint with our handy A to Z guide.
- 03OctSummer Skin Savers
It’s time to face the sun! Makeup artist Debbie Ellis shares her top skincare tips and products for the warmer weather.
- 03OctFLOAT TO FREEDOM
The sensory deprivation tank has been the most important tool I’ve ever used for developing my mind.”
bold statement by legendary American stand-up comedian, UFC commentator, entrepreneur and
podcast host Joe Rogan.
- 03OctBUILDING EMOTIONAL RESILIENCE IN CHILDREN
Challenges in life are inevitable, but they don’t always have to yield negative emotional consequences. Instead, theycan be reframed as positive experiences - especially for children. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges and even trauma.
- 01OctFind Your Movement Mojo
We all know that physical activity is beneficial to our overall wellbeing, and yet we often can’t seem to get ourselves going. For many of us, creating healthy exercise habits amidst the busyness of daily life can be a daunting act of courage and self-discipline.
- 01OctThe Rise & Rise of CBD
Commonly known as CBD, cannabidiol was discovered in the 1940s. It’s one of the 113 known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and constitutes up to 40% of its extract.
- 17SepWhat's Fresh at Wellness?
Shop our in-store fresh offering to stock your fridge with vegan, organic, small-batch and other speciality health foods. We share a taste of two of our favourite local fresh suppliers for the month…