THE HEALING BREATH
We live in stressful times, and many of us are overwhelmed by the pressures of life – overextending ourselves with work and family duties, worrying about money and inflation, not to mention the global pandemic we just lived through. All this stress and tension takes a toll on the body, putting strain on the nervous system and jeopardizing health. The healing breath can reverse this course, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the body and calming the mind.
Not only that, a breathwork practice of deep, even, and conscious breath heals the nervous system, releasing negative emotions stagnating in the body and resolves chronic pain and even physical disease. The breath is the potent medicine that we have been searching for—granting us the rich opportunity to heal the system that dictates how we operate in day-to-day life.
We live in a world of constant stimulation and distraction that pulls us out of the awareness of our bodies and into a world of continuous pressure and action—resulting in the inability to notice the fact that our bodies are taking a massive toll from the amount of pressure and stimulation.
Because we live in our minds, often disconnected from the body, many don’t feel the effects until too late. However, when you take a few moments to consciously breathe every day, you enter back into your body. It’s like you are taking an elevator from your mind and into the sacred vessel that governs your soul. This vessel needs to be honored and protected from the stresses of this life; breathing deeply allows you to alchemize and clear this dense energy from your body.
The moment you begin to breathe, you directly tune into the sensations that arise with this newfound presence, allowing you to feel and understand what is going on in your body and what needs your awareness.
Breathwork is conscious controlled breathing that improves mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
BREATHWORK AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
The healing breath moves us from the sympathetic nervous system and into the parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system governs our fight or flight response, which activates a rush of cortisol through your system to keep you on edge for the threat of danger—creating the fertile grounds for anger, stress, and frustration to rise and fuel you for an attack. This system was necessary during our days of living in the jungles and having to constantly protect our life. However, the threat of danger isn’t as prominent, yet we remain in a sympathetic state throughout our days, leading to excessive feelings of worry, stress, and fear from being on the lookout for danger all the time.
These feelings are a result of the festering cortisol that pumps through your system when activated, it is a chemical reaction to get you to take immense action, and it stagnates when it is not utilized- leading humanity not to feel safe in their bodies and not trusting in life, which leads to the dissociation from our bodies and into our fears. Stress and pressure from life overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system. The excessive overflow of cortisol that is not processed and utilized leads to heart disease, high blood pressure, weight gain, osteoporosis, and more.
The parasympathetic nervous system controls the resting state of our being. It is known as the “Rest and Digest” state that assists with the body’s daily functions, allows us to digest and extract the nutrients of our food, rest our heart rate, and stabilizes our mood. The healing breath immediately shifts us from the sympathetic nervous system into the parasympathetic nervous system. One of the many benefits of breathwork healing is parasympathetic activation which calms the mind and body.
Have you ever caught yourself sighing at the end of a long day? This is the body’s natural way of relieving stress from the body. Can you imagine how much stress can be reduced by consciously breathing for 5-10 minutes a day? It can change the entire dynamic of your life!
The Parasympathetic and Sympathetic are the two branches of the Autonomic Nervous system
BENEFITS OF BREATHWORK HEALING:
1. Reduces stress, anxiety, grief, depression, and anger
We live in a world of constant stimulation, movement, and devastation from a lack of connection to our bodies. Breathwork offers the opportunity to shift into the parasympathetic system, which governs our ability to rest by shutting down the sympathetic nervous system. The word sympathetic is derived from two Greek words, Symp- with and Pathos- feelings (With feelings). In other words, you are bombarded with emotions when you are in the sympathetic state of the nervous system.
A daily breathwork practice also silences the mind, which opens the connection to your intuition or inner guide. This gives you access to your healing abilities. Breathwork benefits the body and mind, allowing you to pinpoint the roots of your emotional turmoil and release through this process of conscious breath.
Try setting the intention to exhale what no longer serves you the next time you consciously breathe!
2. Increases your Energy levels and Boosts your Immune System
Breathwork practice improves oxygen capacity in the blood, leading to overall improved energy levels and stronger stamina. The amount of oxygen we inhale directly influences the amount of energy released into our cells. The body can use this increase of energy to fuel immunity when necessary.
3. Increases Self- Awareness, Presence, Happiness, and Joy
The healing breath creates a deep presence and self-awareness by allowing you to slow down and go within, where stress and even time seem to dissolve. This creates the habit of living moment to moment instead of being bound by the past or worrying about what the future holds.
4. Releases Trauma and Fear Stuck in the body
When you experience trauma, it creates a strong emotional reaction that imprints within the body from the excess energy exerted. Unprocessed negative emotions, fear, and trauma can get trapped and stored in the body and become energetic blocks that often take a physical toll on the body. Breathwork practice allows you to dive into your inner realms and exert the excess energy through conscious exhalation. This is the gateway to deep healing.
5. Improves Digestion
Our current “resting” state as a population is in the nervous system's sympathetic state, which halts digestion. One of the primary breathwork benefits is that it moves you into the parasympathetic system, which stimulates and increases the blood flow throughout the digestive tract. You are also more likely to choose healthier foods because you are in a relaxed and blissful state. Overall improving all areas of your health through this simple and free practice!
6. Explore the Altered States of Consciousness
Breathwork creates a powerful space for spiritual awakening through this expansion of consciousness. You are diving into the depths of your inner realms and have access to the secrets of the Universe through this portal. Like plant medicine, a breathwork experience can be psychedelic that helps you connect to your higher self in a completely safe and effortless way. It’s very common for people to experience a deep sense of oneness, bliss, and a connection to the divine through this practice, leading to an overflow of creativity and inspiration.
Breathwork healing is a powerful way to access the inner guide within you by getting out of the mind and into your heart. It is the gateway to profound transformation as it diminishes the fear and anxiety that prevent you from taking action.
The conscious awareness of your breath is a practice that is thousands of years old. The basis of this ancient practice stem from the fourth limb of yoga, known as pranayama. The word pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words: Prana: (life force) and agama (Expansion). Breathwork beholds numerous variations, paces, styles, and labels, yet all offer the opportunity for profound transformation within your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.
There are many different breathing techniques, each having a specific effect on mind-body physiology. The following are five simple breathing methods to help you get started. Make sure you are sitting in a comfortable position with your spine erect or lying down. If at any point you begin to feel dizzy or uncomfortable, be sure to pause before resuming, or simply stop and try again later.
You can explore altered states of consciousness full of joy and oneness with breathwork practice.
BREATHWORK HEALING TECHNIQUES:
1. Adham (The Belly Breath)
Adham is one of the core breathing techniques often used in meditation and yoga practices. It assists with bringing awareness to the body and calms the mind. It helps to begin this practice by lying down until you familiarize yourself with this technique.
- Place one hand on your belly.
- Take a deep breath through the nose, drawing air toward your lower belly. Feel the belly expand and rise as you inhale.
- Exhale through the nose and feel the belly contract and lower. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position. The breaths should be deep and elongated.
- Practice this technique 3 to 5 minutes several times a day or whenever you feel stressed
- We recommend taking CBD oil 15-10 minutes before your practice to add to the calming effects.
2. Dirgha Pranayama (The Complete Breath)
The Complete Breath is known as Dirgha Pranayama. Dirgha means “long” in Sanskrit and includes the expansion of the abdomen, chest, and neck region. This breathing technique helps to calm the mind and develop deeper awareness.
- While lying down or sitting, place one hand on your belly and the other on your upper chest.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose, drawing the air into the lower abdomen and pelvic area, feeling your hand rise with the belly.
- Continuing to inhale, feel the rib cage begin to expand outward as the mid-section of the torso becomes engaged.
- Finally, draw the air into the upper chest and allow the collar bones to rise. Feel the hand rise with the chest.
- At the peak of inhalation, pause for a moment, then exhale gently in reverse order, releasing the upper chest first, then the diaphragm and ribs, and finally the lower abdomen. Slightly contract the abdominal muscles to push residual air out of the bottom of your lungs.
- After some practice, it should start to feel like a gentle wave motion.
- Perform a few rounds and then notice how you feel.
3. Nadi Shodhani (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
When feeling anxious or ungrounded, practice Alternate Nostril Breathing, known as Nadi Shodhani, in the yogic tradition. This will immediately help you feel calmer.
- Hold your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril.
- At the peak of your inhalation, close off your left nostril with your fourth finger, lift your right thumb, and then exhale smoothly through your right nostril.
- After complete exhalation, inhale through the right nostril, close it off with your right thumb at the peak of your inhalation, lift your fourth finger and exhale smoothly through your left nostril.
- Continue with this practice for 3 to 5 minutes, alternating your breathing through each nostril. Your breathing should be effortless, with your mind gently observing the inflow and outflow of breath.
Alternate nostril breathing clears and balances the energy channels and calms the nervous system.
4. Ujjayi (The Ocean’s Breath)
When you feel angry, irritated, or frustrated, try Ocean’s Breath. This will immediately soothe and settle your mind.
- Take an inhalation that is slightly deeper than usual. With your mouth closed, exhale through your nose while constricting your throat muscles. If you are doing this correctly, you should sound like waves on the ocean.
- Another way to get the hang of this practice is to try exhaling the sound “haaaaah” with your mouth open. Now make a similar sound with your mouth closed, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages.
- Once you have mastered this on the outflow, use the same method for the inflow breath, gently constricting your throat as you inhale.
- Continue for 3 to 5 minutes or however long it feels comfortable.
- Try taking a CBD gummy 15 minutes before your breathwork practice for an extra bit of calm.
3. Bjastrika (The Energizing Breath)
When feeling blue or sluggish, try the Energizing Breath or Bhastrika. This will give you an immediate surge of energy and invigorate your mind.
- Begin by relaxing your shoulders and taking a few deep, full breaths from your abdomen.
- Now start exhaling forcefully through your nose, followed by forceful, deep inhalations at the rate of one second per cycle. Your breathing is entirely from your diaphragm, keeping your head, neck, shoulders, and chest relatively still while your belly moves in and out.
- Start by doing a round of 10 breaths, then breathe naturally and notice the sensations in your body. After 15 to 30 seconds, begin the next round with 20 breaths. Finally, after pausing for another 30 seconds, complete the third round of 30 breaths. Beginners are advised to take a break between rounds.
Breathwork benefits the mind and body in so many ways. The healing breath calms the nervous system, which removes stagnate and stuck emotions and activates the parasympathetic or healing branch of the nervous system. A daily or even weekly breathwork practice can boost the immune system and help you find a natural sense of joy and present moment awareness. Additionally, breathwork healing can improve digestion and even lead to mystical or spiritual experiences.
We welcome you to give breathwork a try; we know that you can transform your nervous system and change your life by implementing breathwork techniques into your self-care. Leanna Organics partner and author of this blog, Ciara, put together a video, a breathwork guided meditation to help you on this journey!
This Blog was written by Ciara Muir