Did you know that your body is equipped with a powerful tool that can help you reduce stress, anxiety, and even depression within minutes? This tool is readily available to you at any time, and it can help you snap your brain into focus on command. What is this amazing tool, you ask? It’s your breath.
In recent years, the ancient practice of breathwork has gained popularity as people discover its many health benefits. Breathwork is an umbrella term that refers to the practice of consciously manipulating the depth and rate of your breathing to achieve a particular outcome. It is considered an active form of meditation, and the outcome will depend on the type of breathing technique that you use.
Our breath is intimately connected to both our body and mind. By simply changing how we breathe, whether it’s the depth, the rate or both, we can create an immediate response in both the body and mind. Breathing quickly causes the body to activate the sympathetic nervous system, also known as our fight-or-flight system, which can bring on feelings of stress, agitation, and anxiety. On the other hand, breathing slower tends to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as our rest-and-digest system, which can bring about a feeling of relaxation in the body.
Dr. Andrew Huberman, from Stanford University, shares on his podcast, Huberman Lab, that exhale-emphasized breathing, especially where you breathe in through the nose, pause, breathe in again, and then exhale fully through the mouth, promotes feelings of relaxation in both the mind and the body. Inhale-emphasized breathing, where the inhale is longer than the exhale, can agitate the body enough to pay attention. This can be used to “wake up” the mind and body anytime you need to pay attention to something, like when driving or studying.
Breathwork is quick, and you can experience its impact on both the body and mind in a matter of minutes. Within the first couple of rounds of breathing, there is already a noticeable change in the body. This is beneficial for people who already feel short on time or stressed about adding additional tasks to their day. Most forms of breathwork can be done anywhere. Some techniques can be practiced while riding the elevator, sitting at your desk, or watching TV.
There are numerous physical, spiritual, and psychological benefits associated with breathwork, depending on the technique that you use. It can decrease stress levels, oxygenate the body, alkalize your blood pH to decrease the risk of disease, improve mental focus, clarity and help process and release blocked emotion or trauma from the body and mind, regulate the nervous system, boost your immune system, relieve feelings of anger, anxiety, depression, and grief, help with PTSD and C-PTSD, treat chronic pain, and decrease inflammation in the body.
Numerous forms of breathwork can be used to create transformation and change within the body. Some techniques are more advanced and require a certified practitioner to take you through the process. Meanwhile, others are simple to learn and can be done safely on your own at home, including box breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, and alternate nostril breathing.
Holotropic Breathwork is a technique typically done in a group setting under the guidance of a certified practitioner. The goal of this technique is to create change in your psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being. While lying down, you’ll be guided to breathe at a faster rate, allowing you to achieve an altered state of consciousness. After the technique is completed, you will be guided to draw a mandala and discuss your experience with the group.
Rebirthing Breathwork, also known as conscious energy breathing, is used to help people release blocked emotions, energy, and even trauma. Under the guidance of a qualified practitioner, you will be instructed to create a pattern of connected, circular breathing. In this technique, you’ll breathe in a way where there is no space or retention of the breath between the inhale and exhale. Through this continuous circular breathing, you may experience an emotional release as past traumas and blocked emotions surface. After this release, people tend to feel a state of inner peace and even higher levels of awareness.
In conclusion, breathwork is a powerful tool that we all have inside of us that can provide us with numerous physical, spiritual, and psychological benefits. With its quick results and easy-to-learn techniques, it is an excellent option for stress management, focusing the mind, and healing the body. Whether you’re looking to release blocked emotions, improve mental clarity, or just relax, breathwork can help you achieve your desired outcome. Remember to consult with your physician before starting any breathwork practice, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.