Breathwork is about being able to control how you breathe and it has many health benefits for your mind and body.
But what exactly is is breathwork? Is it the same as meditation? How do they differ, and what benefits do you get from breathwork? Let’s find out!
What Is Breathwork?
Breathwork is a breathing exercise or technique performed to improve mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. In this process, you consciously change your breathing pattern and bring balance to your body. There’s Breathwork for trauma, energy, healing, manifestation, grief, focus, etc. Whatever you need, there sure is a technique for you.
Alicia Barmon, LCPC, C-IAYT, SEP, specializes in Breathwork for trauma. When searching for breathwork near me Practice Breathwork is the breathing community you have been looking for. Alicia also provides Somatic Practices and Psychotherapy at Ahimsa Therapy in Frederick Maryland. Although her services are offered primarily in the virtual space, Alicia also has a physical sacred space in Frederick Maryland, please inquire.
While breathwork has become more popular in recent times, it is not a new concept. There’s a growing breathing community that has existed for thousands of years and has its origin in yoga practice. The basic idea behind this breathing exercise is to help release stress and toxins from your body when you exhale and nourish your mind.
Practicing breathwork leaves you feeling relaxed and energized. People engage in breathwork for several reasons. They include:
- Positive self-development
- Boosting immunity
- Processing emotions and healing emotional trauma and pain
- Developing life skills
- Developing self-awareness
- Enriching creativity
- Improving personal and professional relationships
- Increasing self-image, confidence, and self-esteem
- Overcoming addictions
- Releasing negative emotions
Is Breathwork the Same as Meditation?
Breathing is an integral part of most meditation sessions.
But breathwork and meditation are not the same. Instead, breathwork is an alternative technique, especially for people who struggle to sit and concentrate on their thoughts. It is a form of active meditation that involves using breathing practices to alter your mood or mental state.
Meditation focuses on present moment awareness while seeking to generate a more settled and focused mind. Additionally, breathwork exercises seek to influence the autonomic nervous system by changing the amount of air that is inhaled and exhaled It is sometimes argued that breathwork is more effective than meditation. First, however, it is essential to consider why you want either of the two and go for the one that best meets your needs.
What Are the Different Types of Breathwork?
There are different ways you can practice breathwork. While some are basic and can be done at home, others require the help of a breathing expert. Below are some of the breathwork techniques you can try.
Deep Abdominal Breathing
This technique involves taking a long, deep breath. While breathing, visualize your breath filling your body. As a result, your belly and chest expand when you inhale.
When you exhale, your chest relaxes, and your navel pulls inward toward your spine. Doing this signals your body to relax and release stress.
During this technique, you count seconds as you breathe in and out to focus your mind. Here’s how the process works: inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. If you exhale longer than eight seconds, it helps you completely clear your lungs.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Start with using your right thumb to apply pressure to your right nostril. Next, breathe in using your left nostril, and hold your breath while switching sides. Then, release your right thumb and use your right index finger to apply pressure to the left nostril while exhaling through the right nostril.
Afterward, pause, take a deep breath, and then alternate again. This breathwork technique helps create balance in your mind and body.
Breath of Fire
Breath of fire is a more advanced breathwork technique. When you breathe in, your abdominal muscles relax. Conversely, you engage your core to help push air out of your body when you breathe out. This technique requires a bit more work than the others. But once achieved, it provides a sense of steadiness.
If you choose this technique, it would be best to have an experienced instructor guide you. Holotropic breathwork helps to achieve a continuous inhale and exhale pattern without pausing. Doing this floods your body with oxygen and renews your cells.
Is Breathwork Safe?
Breathwork is generally a safe technique without any adverse health effects. However, it is possible experience one or more of the following if a technique is done wrongly or there is an underlying health condition:
- Ringing in your ears
- Irregular heartbeat
- Tingling in your arms, hands, arms, feet, or legs
- Muscle spasms
- Change in vision from lack of oxygen
It’s best to consult a professional for advice if you notice any of these symptoms.
What Are the Benefits of Breathwork?
There are physical and emotional benefits when you practice breathwork. Below are the physical advantages:
- It Alkalizes Your Blood’s pH: Respiratory alkalosis results from the physiological changes seen during sustained and rhythmic breathing. It causes a shift in the pH that follows hyperventilation. So, when you take faster breaths, you get rid of more CO2 and shift your body towards a higher alkaline pH.
- It Increases Muscle Tone: When blood alkalizes, calcium ions floating in it go into hiding. The calcium ion then binds onto large proteins in the body called albumin. Consequently, you experience smooth muscle contractions and increased muscle tone.
- It Improves Blood Pressure and Circulation: breathwork is beneficial to people with high blood pressure and improves blood circulation. This is mainly for people dealing with stress.
Other physical benefits of breathwork are more time in deep sleep, reduced PTSD and anxiety, and a better immune system. The emotional advantages are:
- Less depression and anxiety
- Better mental focus
- Decrease in addictive behaviors
- Allows emotional scars to heal
- Better outlook on life
- Contentment and joy
Final Thoughts on Breathwork.
Breathwork is effective in increasing your quality of life. However, the technique requires focus to get the best out of it. It also needs a quiet place where you’ll not be distracted by noise.
To achieve both, work with a professional counselor. When searching for breathwork professionals near you, look for Alicia Barmon, LCPC, C-IAYT, SEP, a Yoga Therapist, Experiencing Somatic Practitioner, and Adjunct Faculty at the Maryland University of Integrative Health to assist you.
Alicia is interested in helping you land in a peaceful place in this chaotic world while uncovering new possibilities to help you face challenges in life.
Start your free breathwork class today.