Breathwork has become increasingly popular in the past years and has taken up an impressive reputation beside practices like yoga and meditation. So what is breathwork you ask?
Breathwork, is the practice of using and manipulating the breath to focus the mind and calm the nervous system. Different types of techniques may seek to achieve different results, but it’s origin can be traced back to pranayama, or breathing exercises which clear the judicial and emotional obstacles in our body to free the breath and encourage the flow of prana, or life energy. Yogis have been practicing pranayama for thousands of years because regular practice can supercharge your whole body with fresh oxygen and energy.
For starters, it can stimulate the parasympathetic system, easing the body from being in a constant state of fight or flight. As we know, our breathing patterns are heavily correlated to our emotional states thus if we are more mindful of how we breathe in stressful situations, we can calm our nervous system down and our emotional systems too as a result. Breathing in it’s essence renews our system with oxygen. If we mindfully breathe, we are providing ourselves with oxygen that can eliminate not only mental discomforts but also physical diseases. This is the very basis for healing modalities like oxygen therapy. There are a variety of forms of breathwork, including Rebirthing Technique, Wim Hof Method, Holotropic are a few leading ones that claim immense benefits like assistance with trauma release.
“A successful tree pose probably won’t change your life. Learning how to keep your breath easy, long and deep no matter what the circumstance? That absolutely will.” - Tara Stiles
Why Breathwork is Powerful & How It Works
“When you can attain your desired state with ease through specific patterns of breathing, you can eliminate a lot of suffering.” - Andrew Huberman, PHD
Unlike traditional talk therapy, breathwork works at a subconscious level. When we use breathing techniques and manipulate our breath a certain way for a specific period of time, we allow a few things to happen: first, we quieten the mind because our conscious brain is pacified. Then, we open up our energy fields that live within our subconscious brain to become activated and alive. Both western psychology as well as eastern philosophies agree that all the experiences we go through as human beings - the joys and heartbreaks, memories big and small - are all stored in our subconscious. They stay live in this layer as trapped energy and are unable to release unless we use tools like breathwork.
This trapped energy affects how we live our lives in the present. For example, let's say you were made fun of for singing at an early age of 6. Since then never dared to share your voice again. The past experience became a conditioning (you told yourself never to sing because singing brings you an unpleasant experience), which affects your present life (you do not sing in the present). Is it true you have a bad singing voice? No. That may not have been a case - perhaps your friends at school may have simply been young and didn’t know better than to tease you. But regardless of whether it was true or not, it affects how you live your life now. We repeat this cycle - turning old experiences into conditioning.
The issue with allowing old experiences to manipulate our present is that they limit our opportunities and limit our possibilities. For example, you could be denying yourself from experiencing the joys of sharing yourself and your voice with the world. This may sound like an insignificant example, but we also limit ourselves in larger more detrimental ways that determine our confidence, our authenticity and thereby curbing off opportunities in the future. Showing parts of ourselves is not wholesome, and it certainly is not authentic. And living authentically is important for a happy life.
When we practice breathwork, we are able to access the layer of the subconscious where these past experiences, trapped energy and trauma live. Once we are there, we use a variety of tools such as making sound and movement. Sounds are vibrational in nature and shift energy that is stuck there so it may release. When you practice breathwork, you may experience physical sensations, feel emotional, or have the urge to move or cry, all common forms of energy being moved or released. Other experiences include feeling very emotional, feeling a sense of peace, feeling extremely connected to a deep part of yourself, feeling like you’re free, seeing visions, or seeing past experience you once forgot about come back up. What’s important to remember is that every session is different, even for the same person. Key advice is this: there is a lot of energy work taking place - so enjoy the ride!
Who Is Breathwork For
Breathwork is great for:
-People who are battling an addiction
-People who want to free themselves from conditioning & step into their potential
-People who have old trauma they need released
-People who want to free themselves from the shackles of old patterning
-People dealing with an ailment that does not seem to go away
-People who want to reconnect with themselves in profound ways
Breathwork is not suitable for:
-People who’ve recently endured a trauma
-People who have high or low blood pressure
-People who have heart illnesses or irregularities
Needless to say it is important to find a practitioner who has proper training and experience. For more information on breathwork check this out