Along with 4 Ways You’re Breathing Wrong and 7 Benefits to Getting it Right
I have been a regular meditator for almost a decade. Constantly drawn to the medium of Breathwork, I believed it would deepen my mediation practice. Breathwork is a technique used to control breathing to achieve improvements to your mental, physical and spiritual well-being. In fact, I’m so fascinated by this field of study, I’m currently studying to become a certified breathwork teacher.
My Breathing Journey
As I reflect on what it is about breathwork that I’ve been drawn to, I began recalling the challenges I’ve had throughout my life (and still have) with the simple act of breathing. It’s so weird to admit that my journey with breathing has been a challenging one. It’s a skill and ability that is a natural biological occurrence that technically, you shouldn’t have to think about. Throughout my life and from the first moments of my life, my ability to consume oxygen has been, well – difficult and something that I need to pay attention to.
Let’s Start at the Beginning
I was born blue at 5 pounds and rushed to an incubator. With this in mind, it’s evident that my struggles getting enough oxygen began in utero before breathing with my lungs was a thing. Although all witnesses to my birth are no longer here, we can assume that the struggle continued, at the very least, for a short period of time after I made my entrance.
While in grammar school, when forced to run laps in PE, I was unable to regulate or catch my breath. I’m not sure if this is a learned skill. If so, I did not. Learn it, that is. This failing continues to this day. During my Crossfit days, I would practically break out in hives at the mere thought that running was part of the workout that day. I would stealthily try to get inside information from other members who had attended class already that day. Having an inside mole (a trainer) who took pity on me, there was a ready-made alternative, if he was coaching that day. I have tried so hard to adapt and develop this skill over time but eventually, my inability to breathe always caused me anxiety and usually physical pain. I’ve given up thinking that running will ever be in my cardio mix.
When I was around 15, I had a tonsillectomy. Likely an unnecessary procedure, finally I was rid of the occasional sore throat while also gaining a severe milk allergy. It’s the fun type of allergy that causes anaphylaxis. When presented with the result of his handy work, the doctor cleverly said, “so just don’t drink milk”. Easier said than done. Milk is a magical hidden ingredient in all sorts of foods. I have been a careful label reader ever since but have still had several episodes of not being able to breathe due to a reaction.
And finally, as I have come to terms with and nearly mastered milk-avoidance, a chronic sinus allergy arose where breathing through my nostrils has been obstructed daily for 10 years. Sniffling and mouth breathing creates more breathing impediments that plaque me to this day.
For all of these reasons, I bet it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to a practice that teaches me to breath more effectively. And bonus, it has spiritual and yogic type elements that align with all of the woo woo stuff I’m interested in.
Likely, you do not have even one of my breathing challenges, but breathwork can still be used by anyone as an enriching technique that allows you to release toxins and manage stress. It allows you to deepen your meditation practice, so you can achieve more alignment with the core of who you are and connect with your intuition. Breathwork is referred to as pranayama in Sanskrit. Prana refers to “life force energy” and Yama means “to regulate or control”. Read a little more about the connection between meditation and breathwork here: What is Breathwork Meditation and How Will It Benefit You? | The Art of Living
Not convinced yet? Check out these ways you may be breathing incorrectly.
- Holding your breath during stressful situations. I’ve had my fair share of presentations in front of medium sized crowds. It wasn’t until I was intentional about my breathing that I would run out of air as I was speaking. I would lose my voice because I wasn’t actually taking air in. I still tend to hold my breath when confronted with situations that are full of conflict.
- Breathing only through your mouth. This practice causes a host of physical issues from bad oral health to sleep apnea while also decreasing lung functionality.
- Sucking in your stomach on the inhale. It may seem like you’re taking a good deep breath of oxygen however sucking in your stomach when you inhale cuts your breath short and restricts the oxygen you would otherwise receive when expanding your belly on the in-breath.
- Hunched over breathing. We are all spending more hours each day hunched over our keyboards. Being hunched over requires more energy than standing up straight while also constricting the ability to take a good strong breath in. A consistent hunched over posture inhibits your ability to properly oxygenate your vital organs
The Healing Powers of Intentional Breathwork
- Having a regular breathwork practice allows you to calm your emotions. Taking slow deep breaths has long been used as a technique to assist in returning to a relaxed state
- A breathwork practice brings you to a state of centeredness – connects your mind, body and spirit by promoting mental, physical and spiritual well-being
- Breathwork oxygenates your cells more effectively
- It strengthens your immune system
- Causes increased oxygen and blood flow to your brain promoting increased mental clarity
- Provides increased energy levels
- Aids in better digestion
The health benefits are incredible of a regular breathwork practice. Techniques differ based on what you’re trying to achieve. As I learn more about these techniques through my training, I’ll share them here on my blog.
As always, do your own research and do what is right for you. Pay attention to how you feel.
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