Looking for a way to overhaul your life for the better? Believe it or not, it has a lot to do with how you choose to inhale and exhale.
Breathing may be an automatic function of being, but so many of us are doing it wrong, ignorant of the power that it holds over our mind, body, and spirit. To put it in context, if you’ve ever attended a yoga class where pranayama (the practice of breath control) was part of the session and emerged with increased mental clarity, you’ve experienced the benefits of a breathwork practice.
What is breathwork?
“Breathwork is any type of breathing exercise or breathing technique sequences done with conscious effort,” shared Niraj Naik, founder of SOMA Breath, a unique combination of breathing techniques guided by the rhythm of the music. “By intentionally changing the breathing pattern, a breathwork practitioner can experience many physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits.”
Before you laugh off the idea of learning how to breathe, there’s an entire universe of guided breathing exercises to explore. Some are as simple as bringing awareness to your breath and the thoughts that accompany it, while more complex breathwork tools like circular and rebirthing can be a powerful bridge to connect with the subconscious mind and past traumas.
More physical forms, like facilitated breathing focuses on fixing physical ailments, while yogic breathing techniques are used to help those suffering from PTSD. Another enormous advantage? Unlike some other forms of therapy (e.g. behavioral talk therapy) which can take time to see changes, breathwork brings results almost immediately.
“What impressed me about breathwork was the relatively fast access the practice can give people to a higher, expanded state, all with the breath, completely healthy and without risk,” shares Peter Nathaniel Lee, an Australia-based breathwork teacher.
M. R. Jab from Movement & Sports Medicine Centre agrees and points to the crucial linkage between breathwork and adopting a more conscious approach to life: “When one practises regular breathwork to a point that you don’t need a reminder to be mindful of it, you start to just be in the moment of whatever you do. You have less of your external surroundings disturbing the internal surrounding. Mental health is how our physical body improves, [there’s the saying that] “where the mind goes, the body follows” and regular breathwork changes your day-to-day experiences.”
On a deeper level, anecdotally, breathwork practices add a boost of wellness to your life. “People who practise breathwork regularly develop vitality in their body. You can see even after one hour how beautiful people look compared to before, shiny eyes, glowing skin, but more than that, is the development of being comfortable in the uncomfortable. Familiar with uncertainty,” says Jab.
So before you brush off breathwork as just another passing wellness fad, read on and find out more about this powerful and therapeutic practice, and which technique appeals to you most.