I watched a video the other day, which says that mindfulness and meditation are like superpowers and part of the next public health revolution. I agree. But, I think the picture isn’t quite complete without breathwork.
Whether it’s yoga, meditation, or mindfulness… the breath is at the center of all these activities.
Even when practiced by itself, breathwork brings a host of benefits that don’t require years of dedication to master.
In fact, you can feel the benefits right away!
What is breathwork ?
What differentiates the way you’re breathing right now to breathwork?
The easiest definition is that breathwork is intentional breathing where you focus on your inhales and exhales to have an immediate effect on how you feel.
In other words, you consciously bring your focus to your breath.
By bringing your awareness there, you also get to change the quality of your breath.
Your breath can be faster, deeper, held for longer…
This is breathing with a purpose, and it can be used in various circumstances.
The benefits of breathwork
1. It helps you beat stress (fast!)
Have you noticed that when you are facing a stressful situation, your body reacts by taking short and shallow breaths?
When faced with physical danger, this response is useful as it provides more oxygen to your limbs to run or fight.
But what happens when the cause of your stress doesn't put you in a life or death situation?
Sometimes, a presentation, a meeting, or an argument with your partner can trigger a stress response and make things worse for you.
By using breathwork, and taking long and deeper breaths, you can hack your body's natural breathing response to calm yourself down and make better decisions.
2. It can help you focus
If you’re struggling to concentrate on a project or keep focused in a conversation, breathwork can help.
Everyone from CEOs, to neurohackers, and navy seals use breathing techniques to help them keep their mind “in the game” and so can you.
3. It can help you manage your depression
Breathwork cannot cure depression, but it can certainly help you manage the symptoms of depression or anxiety by calming down your thoughts, body and mind.
For more information, watch this depression counsellor’s advice on the topic.
4. It can help with pain management
Pain causes stress to the body and proper breathwork can help you better manage the debilitating effects of chronic pain.
Not only can breathing have an immediate effect in lowering pain (as this study on women suffering from fibromyalgia shows) it can also help improve the overall quality of life of chronic pain sufferers which in turn, helps them better manage their pain.
5. It can help with digestion
Ever felt nauseous or had stomach cramps before a presentation or an exam? Well that is due to stress.
Stress takes a toll on your digestive system.
Usually, short-term stress can cause a loss of appetite and slower digestion. Chronic stress may cause some of the following gut symptoms: bloating, constipation or loose bowels, reflux.
By practicing breathwork, you are able to better regulate your nervous system and usually this helps in managing and reducing the negative gut symptoms you may feel.
Breathwork offers a number of benefits that can change how you feel immediately. Above are only a few of those benefits.
And the best part is, that it doesn’t take a lifetime to master.
Most breathing coaches (including me) will teach you the basics in four sessions.
If you'd like to know more, you can watch this TED talk from my personal coach, Lucas Rockwood who talks about the different breathing categories that exist.
And if you'd like to try breathwork and are not quite sure it’s for you, you’ll be happy to know that I offer a 20-minute breathing session which is completely free (no commitment!). You can book your free discovery session here or just send me an email by clicking here and let’s talk.