The term "breathwork" might sound contradictory at first. After all, isn't breathing NOT supposed to be work? True, most of the time, it's an unconscious practice. But when you practice the conscious control of your breath, this is known as breathwork. And I'm going to tell you all about it today!
So, by now you know breathwork is the conscious control of your breath—but that doesn't just mean your basic inhale and exhale pattern. It also involves using different techniques and exercises to intentionally change your breathing pattern.
As for the "why" of breathwork, it turns out there are all kinds of powerful reasons in its favor.
Consider the findings from this study:
"Slow breathing techniques promote autonomic changes increasing Heart Rate Variability and Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia paralleled by Central Nervous System (CNS) activity modifications...Psychological/behavioral outputs related to the abovementioned changes are increased comfort, relaxation, pleasantness, vigor and alertness, and reduced symptoms of arousal, anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion."
In plain English, controlled breathing practices can have a powerful effect on your central nervous system.
Specifically, it can trigger your parasympathetic nervous system to kick into gear. That's the one responsible for the "rest and digest" response that slows your heart and calms your system.
When the sympathetic nervous system is in control, you're in "fight or flight" mode. Of course, that serves an important purpose in protecting you from danger. But the problem is, many of us are in this state of fight or flight, even when there's no imminent threat. You could be tense, on edge, stressed, and on high-alert as a result.
But by consciously controlling your breathing with breathwork, you can counter the fight or flight mode with the rest and digest response.
Here are just a few of the ways this can help you:
Not to mention, breathwork is available to people of all abilities and ages! No equipment is required, it can be done ANYWHERE, and its effects can be felt immediately.
Now that we've covered some of its benefits, let's explore some different breathwork practices and styles you have to choose from.
During your search for breathwork practices, you'll come across a number of different styles.
Today I'm going to start you off with two of my very favorite breathwork practices.
Let's start with The Double Inhale. This simple technique involves two inhales for every one exhale:
The expanded version also incorporates two inhales for every one exhale:
Whether you call it box breathing or square breathing, this breathwork practice gets its name from the four components (or corners) it incorporates: an inhale, breath hold, an exhale, breath hold, and performing each of these components for four seconds at a time.
There are so many different ways to incorporate breathwork into your life. It's one of the six essential components of a vitality plan (read more about the other five here), and it's a critical component of a Soulful Activation practice to help you connect to your highest self, centering yourself from this place, and activating your innate power, intelligence, vitality.
Have I piqued your interest in this powerful practice yet? I’d love to share even more breathwork resources with you, so let's chat! Reach out here.
In the meantime, if you loved this post, here are three to read next:
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