How can breathwork nourish your soul?
Breathwork is a bridge to our body, mind and soul. Consciously controlling our breath impacts our psychological and physiological state via the autonomic nervous system. Breathwork may assist with the body’s natural ability to heal, as well as promoting self awareness and personal transformation.
Our life experience is mirrored in our breath. When we are nervous our breathing is rapid, when surprised we gasp, when sad we sigh and when we are relaxed our breath is deep and slow. Breath awareness allows us to adjust our respiration to recognise and hinder health and happiness.
The birth of breathwork can be traced back to timeless traditions of Buddhism, martial arts, Sufism and yoga. Meditative breathing was often used to manage emotions, focus awareness and elevate energy. Conscious breathing is the practice of breathing with awareness, intention and attention to your inner experience, in the present moment.
A number of breathwork specialisations have emerged over the years. Modern breathwork pioneers include Dr. Wilhelm Reich of 1920’s Reichian Breathwork, Leonard Orr of 1970’s Rebirthing Breathwork, Jim Leonard and Phil Laut of 1979 Vivation, Stanislav Grof of 1970’s Holotropic Breathwork®, Jacquelyn Small of 1991 Integrative Breathwork and Giten Tonkov of 2006 BioDynamic Breathwork Trauma Release System.
The Australian Breathwork Association sets professional standards for breathwork practitioners who practice breathwork based on the conscious connected breathing cycle as the breathing technique. Each breathwork specialty has their specific governing body to ensure consistent qualifications.
Benefits of breathwork
Breathwork is reported to have a range of anecdotal and clinically proven benefits. In general, deep breathing oxygenates the bloodstream, alkalises blood pH, decreases cortisol, lowers blood pressure, increases parasympathetic function, raises nitric oxide and improves respiratory muscle tone. It has also been shown to regulate and release emotions.
Breathwork may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Blood pressure
- Dementia and alzheimer's
- Energy and vitality
- Fatigue, burnout and exhaustion
- Headaches and migraines
- Immunity issues
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
- PTSD and trauma
- Respiratory and breathing issues
What to expect from a breathwork session
Breathwork varies according to the discipline, patient and practitioner. It can be conducted in an individual or group setting facilitated by a qualified breathwork practitioner.
Prior to a practical session it is vital to communicate any existing health concerns including issues with breathing, heart issues, injuries, surgeries, psychiatric or vision impairment.
Following a thorough consultation and briefing the experiential journey begins. Depending on the discipline you may be asked to move, sit or lie down for the practice. Touch, sounds and exercises may be incorporated into the therapy.
Common sensations arising during breathwork may include calmness, connectedness, cramps, dizziness, energy, exhilaration, memory recall, palpitations, tightness, tinnitus and tingling. If past trauma arises, an expert practitioner should gently guide you to release it rather than risking re-traumatisation.
It is generally recommended that new participants commit to 3-10 sessions. Do also ensure you get sufficient rest and hydration after a session to ensure your emotions and metabolic processes can stabilise. Take a deep breath for a profound path towards optimal health and longevity.
While breathwork is a non-invasive, gentle modality which is unlikely to cause any adverse effects, it is always important to consult your medical professional before commencing. If you have an injury, health issue, or any concerns, do inform your practitioner who will be happy to address these and explore how the session can be adjusted to best suit your requirements.