by Whitney Yarnall | October 27, 2020 8:44 pm
If you’re engaged in the yoga and meditation community, you have likely heard of Breathwork by now. A common claim is that “Breathwork is the new.. [ insert yoga or meditation]. ” It continues to gain popularity in the wellness space, and I’m here to tell you a few reasons why, if you try it, it just might change your life.
The first thing you need to know is that breathwork is an umbrella term, just like yoga. There are many styles and ways to breathe, but a style that’s becoming most well-known is commonly referred to as 3-part breath or circular breathing. That’s the primary style of breathwork I’ll be sharing about.
As a yoga teacher and studio owner, I’m no stranger to the concept of breathwork. I have learned breathing techniques in all of the various teacher trainings I’ve participated in, and from over 13 years of practicing yoga. However, a class solely focused on active breathing was not on my radar until a couple of years ago.
I unknowingly participated in my first “full ” breathwork experience when auditioning a perspective teacher at my studio. I expected to feel relaxed and refreshed after class, but what really happened was actually incredibly transformative and almost unbelievable. I felt like I was floating on a cloud, free from the chaos of my mind, relaxed tingly in my whole body. It was similar to a “yoga high ” but amplified 20+ times, and longer lasting.
I left that class speechless. I had no words for my experience yet, I just knew that we had to offer this healing experience at my yoga studio. I decided right then that I would study this mysterious new modality and incorporate it into my regular practice.
So what can we experience during this practice?
Simply put, the breathing pattern in breathwork is different from how we breathe in everyday life. We are striving to hyper oxygenate the body, to move energy, emotions, old thought patterns, even trauma. The goal is to (either consciously or subconsciously) process these things and eventually release them during this practice. The technique itself can commonly create physiological responses – body tingling, throbbing, numbness, emotional release and more. The important thing to remember is that while this feels different, it is completely normal and safe.
Below are the 3 key benefits of breathwork:
By breathing in a specific pattern over a period of time, your body naturally relaxes and shifts into the parasympathetic state (rest and digest). From this space, your mind begins to relax as well and that inner critic (we all have it!) disappears.
Boosts Your Immune System
Our amazing lungs not only keep us alive, but they detoxify and eliminate toxins in our bodies. Conscious circular breathing alkalizes your blood, increasing pH (less toxicity in the body), adds muscle tone, detoxifies and has serious benefits to our mood, and immune system.
Releases Emotions and Trauma
The areas of the brain that regulate emotions become activated during this breathwork practice. And you’re continuous to clear space there over the length of the class (30-60 minutes). So, it’s incredibly common to release heavy or unpleasant emotions that you may not even have been aware of.
These are just some of the benefits and scientifically proven explanations of this beautiful practice. I encourage you to give it a try and see what it does for your life!
If you’re ready to jump in to a breathwork class, here’s what the experience might look like:
First step is to find a reputable teacher or studio that offers Breathwork. If you’re not already integrated in a yoga or meditation community that you can ask, look up where the master teachers and instructors teach, such as David Elliot or Jon Paul Crimi.
We offer live virtual and in person breathwork classes at Sojourn Healing Collective weekly, as well as themed quarterly workshops.
A live breathwork class will typically begin with some background from the instructor and an overview of the various physical and emotional things that might arise for you during the practice. They will also review and have you practice the breath pattern that you’ll use for the duration of class. You will then lay down in savasana to begin the breathing technique. You may hear music, queues to modify your breath, you may even feel the instructor’s presence (or hear them speak to you in a virtual experience) if they witness you experiencing a lot of sensation or emotion. As long as you find a safe and reputable space to take your class, you will feel fully supported and safe to experience whatever it is that comes up for you. And the best part is that you ALWAYS have control over your breath.
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