Tuning INwards with Conscious Breathing
Conscious Breathing, or ”Breathwork” as it is otherwise known, is the key to your physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual well-being. It is the key to your creativity, your intuition, living in the flow, living authentically, and living in pure joy.
Breathwork encompasses a broad range of whole-being therapeutic practices and exercises used to relieve mental, physical, and/or emotional tension.
The physical benefits of deep breathing are often immediate. By breathing deeply, slow down your heart rate and lower your blood pressure creating a feeling of calm. When your body is operating under “fight-or-flight” response, or stress, it releases a surge of hormones (such as cortisol and adrenaline) that causes your breathing to speed up, increases your pulse and blood pressure, and puts you in a state of hypervigilance. Deep breathing can help reverse this response and relax your body.
Try this: Next time you practice breathwork, focus on the physical aspects of your breath:
- Watch your chest and belly rise and fall.
- Notice the temperature and moisture of your breath.
- Tune into the muscles and bones moving in your body.
- Observe how your body feels when you shift from shallow to deep breathing.
Breathwork can help you reach a deeper state of mind. While in this state, you may be able to access buried emotions, grudges, and traumas, and ultimately release yourself from their grip on your mental state. Breathwork is often used to help those who have mental health issues and is seen as a way to calm and focus your mind.
Try this: Next time you practice breathwork, focus on your mind:
- Be aware of the thoughts in your head, but don’t attach to them.
- Feel what emotions come up.
- Notice your inner voice.
- Visualize the intention you set for your breathwork practices.
Breathwork can also be spiritual. When you practice, you can move beyond your body and mind, and connect with your core spirit—your Self. In other words, you can remove your ego and connect to your true Self and the Universe. Many people who practice breathwork experience spiritual awakenings or attunements to their inner being.
Try this: Next time you practice breathwork, focus on the spirit:
- Feel the universe filling you with air on your inhalation.
- Experience the life force (prana) flow through you.
- Allow yourself to make space for this energy within yourself.
- Feel how this energy connects you with a deeper part of your Self.
- As you exhale, send the energy to all the living things around you.
Styles of Breathwork
Breathwork has its roots in ancient eastern practices. Some focus more on the altered state of consciousness than others, but they all can help with self-awareness and inner peace. The three most popular types of breathwork are:
If you practice yoga, you will likely be familiar with this breathwork practice. Pranayama is about controlling (yama) your breath (prana) for positive effects. By controlling your breath, you can move past emotional and energetic blocks that hinder the flow of your life force. There are many different techniques you can try.
Holotropic breathwork is a practice often accompanied with intense music and led by an instructor guiding a group of participants. It involves inhaling and exhaling for the same amount of time at different speeds to induce an altered state of consciousness.
Rebirthing breathwork is grounded in the idea that you carry residual stress from your traumatic experience of birth. Through this type of breathwork, it is believed you can allow yourself to release any emotional baggage and trauma that occurred during your birth.
Breathwork can go beyond the incorporation of breathing during your physical yoga flow and can be a powerful therapeutic practice. If you decide to explore its benefits, talk to an expert in that practice and try out different styles of breathwork to find the one that best works for you.
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