Why You Should Do Breath Work Now
If you haven’t heard, breathwork is making its way to the mainstream world of wellness and going head-to-head with household-named practices like yoga and meditation.
But wait, what’s the difference? Doesn’t yoga and meditation already emphasize focusing on your breath? I’ve been practicing yoga since 2008, and mediation has been a part of my morning ritual every day since 2018. Why should I practice breathwork now?
I’ve heard whispers of breathwork amongst the wellness community in Vancouver before I moved to Mexico. Now, living in Tulum, a mecca of spiritual healing and alternative wellness practices, I meet people every week that speak about breathwork.
I remember my first yoga class – I hated it. But once I got past the discomfort of trying something new, I loved it. So I decided to give breathwork a shot and do three online sessions with a teacher before I form an opinion.
I decided to partake in Holotropic breathwork. This practice was developed by psychiatrists Stanislav and Christina Grof in the 1970s to achieve altered states of consciousness as a potential therapeutic tool.
In my first session, I recognized the importance of having a guide. The teacher instructed us to breathe through our mouths down to our stomach. Then to our chest, and exhale through the mouth. This technique was challenging, but with guidance, I was able to persist. With each exhale, I became more present and attuned to my body.
By the end of the session, I was in tears. I had put a lot of pressure on myself in the past year, adjusting to the new norms of working remotely. It was a release of suppressed emotions. After three sessions, I was convinced and continue to practice breathwork religiously today.
Before I give you the reasons why we should all add breathwork to our wellness routines, let’s answer the question:
What is Breathwork?
At its core, it’s an active meditation while taking conscious control of your breath. There are different breathing patterns, but most of them are linked to relieving the body and nervous system of emotional debris.
There are many schools of breathwork (i.e., Holotropic, Transformational, Shamanic), and within them, various breathing types (i.e., circular, boxed, ujjayi, breath of fire). But the focus remains consistent: mind-body connection.
During class, your breathwork teacher first guides you through the technique they are trained in.
Once you begin breathing, they might play inspirational music, incorporate mantras or crystal therapy into your session, and perhaps end with a guided meditation.
Whether it’s repressed emotions, things you’re holding back or hiding from, these things will come up. Sometimes, intense experiences can be felt, and the presence of a breathwork professional would help guide you through any emotional or physical discomfort.
Why Should We Do Breathwork Now?
We have entered into a new normal when it comes to social gatherings and events. Breathwork is a practice that can be just as effective when done remotely and can be easily practiced with a teacher over Zoom. To have the ability to cultivate a sense of calm throughout your body and mind is a feeling of control that we can all use in these times of uncertainty. The benefit of it becoming more mainstream is that it can help us relate with others as it becomes more relevant in pop-culture.
Reasons to do Breathwork:
- Process grief
- Release emotions
- Enrich creativity
- Reduce stress and anxiety levels
- Rested sleep
- Lowers blood pressure