Breathwork can be a big tool for transformation and healing – and it’s something I like to practice alongside TM meditation. It’s an ancient Eastern therapeutic practice that uses breathing exercises to release mental, physical and emotional tension. Although breathing happens naturally and automatically for our bodies, there’s power and transformation behind the intention and awareness of your breath.
There are a lot of different styles of breathwork – but they all work to help with self-awareness and inner peace (something I’ve been working on finding and maintaining!). My favorite is pranayama, which is about controlling (yama) your breath (prana) to create positive effects. You might already be familiar with this if you practice yoga. Pranayama can help you move past any emotional and energetic blocks that may be hindering the flow of your life force. Here’s how breathwork can benefit your mental, physical and spiritual state.
We know breathing helps deliver oxygen into our bloodstreams and removes carbon dioxide – but it’s also how we release about 70% of the toxins in our bodies. A full breath cycle involves your whole body (your chest, stomach, back and mind) and it takes effort to coordinate all the elements of breath. The physical benefits of breathwork are immediate. Breathing deeply activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. All of this together creates a feeling of calmness. With breathwork, you also rely on your diaphragm instead of your chest, which allows your neck and chest muscles to relax, your abs to engage and more oxygen to reach your cells and organs.
To focus on the physical aspects of your breath, you can:
-Watch your stomach rise and fall with each breath
-Focus on the muscles moving in your body
-Notice the temperature and moisture of your breath
-Note how your body feels when you go from shallow to deep breathing
Deep breathing helps you calm and refocus your thoughts and reach a deeper state of mind. Breathwork can help you release yourself from the grip buried emotions, grudges and traumas may have on your mind. To focus on your thoughts and emotions during breathwork, you can:
-Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up
-Notice your inner voice
-Acknowledge your thoughts (but don’t attach to them)
-Set an intention for your breathwork practice and then visualize it
Breathwork can help you move beyond your body and mind and connect with your spirit. Meaning it can remove you from your ego, thoughts and any distractions and connect you to your inner-self, the universe or whatever higher power you believe in. To be better attuned during breathwork, you can:
-Imagine the universe filling you with air as you inhale
-Imagine you’re sending energy to all the living things around you as you exhale
-Allow yourself to make space for this energy within yourself
-Visualize the life force (prana) flowing through you as you breath
-Notice how this energy helps you better connect with your inner-self
Is breathwork in your self-care routine – or will you be adding it? I’d love to know what you think!