Breathwork is an ancient Eastern therapeutic practice that uses breathing exercises to release mental, physical and emotional tension. How incredible that you can use something as natural as breathwork to transform & heal your body.
The breath is a conduit of life. It is the physical manifestation of your chi (qi), prana, or life force energy. And you do it 23,000 times a day!
Your breath is not only there to help animate your body, but also to help it heal, purge old energy and toxins, and invite in what is new and invigorating.
Below are 5 Types that we’ll be discussing in order to use your breathwork to transform & heal your body:
Arguably the oldest form of ‘breathwork’ there is, 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.
Pranayama can either be practiced alongside yoga asanas (poses) or just by itself. Interestingly, there are eight types of pranayama with dozens of individual methods described in the Vedas (ancient Indian religious texts). Some of the more common ones are Skull Shining Breath (or Kapalabhati), Alternate Nostril Breathing (or Nadi Shodhan), and Conqueror Breath (or Ujjayi).
2. Holotropic breathwork
Created in the 1970s by the transpersonal Czech psychiatrists Stanislav and Christina Grof, as a way of helping people to experience deep inner healing and transformation.
They created this holotropic model after studying and experiencing the therapeutic effects of the drug LSD. Their intention was to design an experience that was similar to LSD, with its mind-altered effects but without the side effects.
Holotropic breathwork is practised to the rhythm of primal music with rapid breathing for up to 2 hours or more. and must be practiced with a qualified practitioner. The ultimate goal is to access higher states of consciousness and connect with the soul.
3. Rebirthing breathwork
The goal of this technique is to connect you with the subconscious mind. Rebreathing breathwork also helps to release traumatic childhood memories. And though this experience a kind of invigorating ‘rebirth’ happens (hence the name). Rebirthing breathwork utilizes a circular breathing technique alongside the guidance of a trained facilitator.
4. Shamanic breathwork
Is a modern adaptation of old circular breathing techniques with the purpose of getting a person in touch with their inner healer, called Shaman.
People usually begin by smudging, chanting, and setting an intention and then breathe rhythmically to primal music (such as drums).
Shamanic breathworks aim is to help you experience more wholeness, healing, and inner guidance.
5. Wim Hof breathwork
A unique breathwork developed by a Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof also known as “The Iceman.”
He is known for being able to withstand freezing cold temperatures and ice baths for prolonged periods of time. His method involves three central pillars: exposure to cold, breathing (controlled hyperventilation), and meditation.
You will start your breathwork by sitting in a comfortable place. Then taking 30 quick, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Then, take a deep breath and exhale; hold until you need to breathe in. Afterward, inhale deeply for another 10-15 seconds, retain, and then exhale, then repeat for up to three more rounds.
Here’s how breathwork can benefit your mental, physical and spiritual state:
Did you know, breathing helps deliver oxygen into our bloodstreams and removes carbon dioxide, which also releases about 70% of the toxins in our bodies.
The physical benefits of breathwork are immediate. A full breath cycle involves your whole body (chest, stomach, back and mind) and it takes effort to coordinate all the elements. Breathing deeply will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing your heart rate and lowering blood pressure. All of this together creates an immediate feeling of calmness.
Have you ever noticed how your body feels when you go from shallow to deep breathing? As well as the temperature and moisture of your breath?
Calm and refocus your thoughts to reach a deeper state of your mind. This is where meditation and breathwork mesh perfectly together.
Before starting, set an intention for your breathwork practice and then visualize it throughout. Don’t block any thoughts out, but don’t attach to them. Also allow yourself to feel any emotions that might come up during this time.
Breathwork can help you connect with your spirit by moving beyond your body and mind. Meaning it can remove you from your ego, thoughts and any distractions, in order to connect to your inner-self.
Imagine the universe filling you with air as you inhale, and sending energy to all the living things around you as you exhale.
Breathwork is a powerful practice that can accompany you anytime, anywhere, on your life path. And its ability to aid spiritual growth and transformation is what makes it so valuable to begin with.
In one of our previous blogs, we also dove into Meditation and how it can help manage your anxiety to help you get through these unprecedented times. To start your journey with breathwork and meditation, choose one of the above practices and dedicate just a couple of minutes each day to it.
Have you tried breathwork before? We would love to know if you’ve tried it and what your experience was to use something as simple as breathwork to transform & heal your body.