Reviewed By Pamela Kirkpatrick - Senior Accredited NCS & Registered Member MBACP Adv. Dip.
Why You Should Try Breathwork
08 February 2023
Breathwork practices can have a profound effect on our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
Often, I get the same reaction from people when I mention breathwork, an eye roll or a snigger. I get the impression that some people believe it just isn’t for them. But Breathwork is for everyone!
Why Is Breathwork So Popular?
- Scientific research on breathing techniques and practices are now really robust. The research clearly shows the benefits breathwork can have on your over all mental health & wellbeing.
- Breathwork exercises are really accessible, they are free, can be done anywhere and are easily integrated into your daily routine. Breathing is something you do every day, something you are doing right now.
- Your brain is super reactive to your lungs and the messages they send. If you think about it you can go for a couple of weeks with food, a few days without water but for most of us, only a few minutes without oxygen. Therefore your brain is hardwired to very listen carefully to your lungs.
- Breathing is one of those really amazing things that is both under our conscious and subconscious control. This means that you can consciously shift and change your breathing patterns, you can lengthen your exhales, you can hold your breath. Yet, over the span of 24 hours you are not controlling your breathing, that’s your subconscious control taking over, it’s running the show, it’s doing its thing to keep you alive and functioning. This means that we can make conscious changes to our breathing to elicit subconscious responses to our body & mind!
- The great thing about breathwork is; different methods can be used for different benefits. Whether you need to awaken your body & mind, to feel energised, or to help you focus. Or maybe you want to relax your body & mind, to calm your nervous system, or prepare for sleep.
How Do Breathwork Practices Benefit Wellbeing?
Let’s use an example.
You’ve had a really stressful day and you feel that tension in your body, your mind is racing, you may be feeling anxious or angry.
You practise a breathwork technique like alternative nostril breathing. You can use any method that consciously elicits a strong relaxation response.
Your lungs are sending a message to the brain that says, “I am safe, I am in control, it’s time to relax”.
Your brain will receive those messages loud and clear. It will automatically send a huge cascade of messages to your body which can result in:
- Reduced cortisol and adrenaline (the stress hormones)
- Lower heart rate
- A drop in blood pressure
- Digestive system regulation
- Promoted healing
- Boosted immune system
All these physical changes result in feeling calmer, more relaxed, more in control and better able to handle your emotions or circumstances. You’ve just hacked your body & mind!
All this and more from just a shift in your breath! That is why breathwork is an amazing tool to have in your wellbeing tool kit.
Is Breathwork Difficult?
Creating a new habit or trying something new for the first time can be frustrating. Especially if you aren’t sure where to start or are concerned you are not doing it “right”. It’s important to remember that Breathwork is a practice, and practice makes progress.
Often when practising, you may worry that your mind is wandering, that’s completely normal, that is human.
Just notice your mind wandering, acknowledge the thoughts and then gently, compassionately, with no judgement, draw your attention right back to your breath.
With practice it will become easier and feel more natural. Some people may notice the transformative benefits after trying an exercise for the first time, others may need to commit daily over a period of time, particularly if you live a busy lifestyle or have experienced high levels of stress for quite some time. Either way, it’s a tool that can be used daily in order to continuously reap rewards.
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