What Is Breathwork?
Sometimes the journey to finding relief from stress can involve a lot of time, effort, patience and expense leading to..… more stress. Fortunately there are easily accessible ways to relieve anxiety and tension, one of which is breathwork.
Breathwork, is a blanket term for a variety of breathing techniques, that involve the conscious control of the rate and depth of our breathing. These exercises might just be the most natural and effective way to bring a sense of calm and balance into your life. All that’s required is the ability to freely inhale and exhale.
The methods of breathing used in can be slow, fast paced, involve breath retention or utilise continuous flowing rounds of breath. The end result can be cathartic for many.
Why Practice Breathwork?
How we choose to breathe has an effect on our heart rate, blood pressure and our stress hormones. When we slow our breath, we trigger our parasympathetic system which brings us to a calm and relaxed state. Yet by adulthood, many of us have adapted our breathing to suit busy lifestyles lived in polluted and often smelly cities. For many adults, breathwork can be the first opportunity that they’ve had in a long time to fully luxuriate in the natural fullness of their breath.
The benefits of breathwork are manifold. It has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, similar to that experienced in meditation. Infact it is often described as a form of active meditation.
The practice of breathwork is notable for it’s ability to bring balance back to people living with psychological conditions such as stress, anxiety, anger issues, depression, PTSD, grief and loss and insomnia. It can also help to release stagnant emotions that no longer serve us, leaving recipients feeling lighter, freer and uplifted.
Breathing with conscious awareness can also have a positive impact on physical conditions such as hypertension, asthma, chronic pain and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Studies have even shown the power of breathwork practices to reduce inflammation, alkalinise blood PH levels and alter the immune system, benefitting autoimmune conditions.
Types Of Breathwork
There are many different types of breath work practices which tend to be a blend of Eastern and Western influences these include:
Transformational breathwork has been described by Deepak Chopra as one of the most effective forms of breathwork used today. This style of breathing uses a full relaxed breath that ‘originates in the lower abdomen and repeats the inhalation and exhalation without pausing’. It also uses other healing therapies such as kundalini yoga, body mapping, breath analysis and other powerful forms of physical and spiritual healing.
Holotropic breathwork uses accelerated breathing combined with music to help the recipient to enter into a ‘non ordinary state of consciousness’. In this state, participants can start the process of healing deep seated subconscious issues. Due to the methods of breathing used, holotropic breathing is contraindicated for people with a history of psychosis and seizures.
Clarity breathwork is said to aid transformation by using the ancient method of circular connected breathing. It’s purported to improve clarity of thinking, relieve stress and tension, unblock emotional energy, increase physical energy, activate the subconscious mind and heal trauma.
Shamanic breathwork uses deep connected breathing with ‘chakra-attuned music’ to help recipients enter into altered states of consciousness. The participant gets to tap into their own innate healing abilities so that they can resolve past trauma and move past unhelpful or dysfunctional ways of thinking.
Is Breathwork Safe?
Breathwork is a safe practice that can be enjoyed by most people without any negative effects. However, it’s not recommended for everybody. People with a history of psychosis, cardiovascular problems or seizures should check with their doctor before embarking on any breath therapy.
How Can I Start A Breathwork Practice?
It’s possible to attend public, private or online classes but in-person classes are always best for access to a supportive teacher. Classes can last anywhere from twenty minutes to one hour. From time to time Evolve Wellness Centre holds transformational breath workshop’s with facilitator Aimee Hartley, utilising circular breathing with sound, movement, positive affirmations, the light touch of acupressure and deep relaxation.
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