Did you know that recent statistics indicate as many as 1 in 5 Americans struggle with anxiety?
If you are among that 20%, you know how debilitating anxiety can be. It can impact your relationships, your work, and even your ability to enjoy the activities you like.
Luckily, natural treatments like breathwork meditation can help you learn to manage your anxiety so you can live your life fully. And, even if you don’t suffer from anxiety, meditation can be an effective way to help you focus, recenter, and have a clearer mind.
But does breathwork meditation really work? let’s take a look at the facts.
What Is Breathwork?
Breathwork is a form of meditation that uses accelerated breathing to achieve an alternate, elevated state of consciousness. This altered state allows the practitioner to explore their inner personality and achieve healing.
There are different types of breathwork, but they are all generally rooted in principles related to pranayama yoga mixed with modern psychology.
How Does It Work?
We breathe all day, every day. In fact, research indicates that we take 12-20 breaths per minute.
But, if we’re being honest, most of us would admit that we don’t pay much attention to our breathing. This is in spite of the fact that breathing is essential to our very existence.
The goal of breathwork meditation is to disrupt this pattern by breathing in a specific way. This method of breathing saturates the cells with oxygen, which creates heightened physical and mental responses.
Typically, breathwork sessions will be led by a guide who walks participants through when to breathe in, when to exhale, etc. Depending on the class, some meditation sessions may include music, elements of talk therapy, and other features.
First, participants must learn how to focus on breathing with the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.
Often, when we breathe in our day to day lives, we simply focus on our nostrils or our mouths. Taking these short, shallow breaths can cause neck and shoulder tension. Breathing from the abdomen changes our focus, and leads us to think of breathing as more of a full-body effort.
Once participants have this skill down, the guide will lead the group through a variety of breathing patterns. For example, this might include taking a forceful, deep breath followed by a more shallow breath.
What Happens During Breathwork?
If you’re just reading about breathwork on paper, it might not sound that life-changing. In reality, the effects are a lot different than a simple deep-breathing exercise.
This method of structured breathing impacts the way that oxygen is delivered throughout your body, including to your brain. This is what triggers the altered state of consciousness, which many practitioners describe as an intense experience.
In a group of people practicing breathwork, it is not unusual to hear others laugh, cry, or even scream. Some will even describe the sensation as orgasmic.
After the session ends, participants will have the opportunity to reflect on what has taken place. This might include writing notes about the experience, taking a nature walk, or debriefing with others.
What Is the Purpose of Breathwork?
So far, we’ve discussed how breathwork meditation works, and what the experience is like. But what is the purpose of breathwork? How does it help the person practicing it?
There are a wide variety of benefits of practicing breathwork, both physical and mental. Let’s take a look at a few.
As we mentioned earlier, the method of breathing involved in breathwork uses the whole body. This practice, in turn, has benefits that impact the whole body.
The method of breathing practiced will slow down your heart rate and blood pressure. In turn, this will reduce the “fight or flight” impulse we have that sets us on edge and makes our muscles tense. This relaxation can help ease strained muscles.
Moreover, breathing delivers oxygen to every system of the body: the nervous system, the lymphatic system, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, etc. Changing the way oxygen is delivered to these systems, even briefly, can have a positive effect on them.
Reducing the physical stress in your body can help contribute to reducing mental stress as well. The adrenaline and cortisol that create tension in your muscles can also cause your mind to react with anxiety to various situations. Lowering these hormones in your body can help you naturally cope with these conditions.
Who Should Do Breathwork?
Quite frankly, breathwork is appropriate for anyone. That said, there are some people who may stand to specifically benefit from breathwork more than others.
For instance, breathwork has been shown to be effective in treating PTSD, depression, and grief. By helping you achieve a different state of consciousness, breathwork can help you look at memories or situations that are causing distress in a new way.
Breathwork can also be done individually or in a group. A couple, a family, or a group of friends could benefit from doing breathwork together.
Following the session, the participants would have the opportunity to talk together about the experiences they had. This can be helpful for people who need help broaching a sensitive subject that must be addressed.
Get Started with Breathwork Meditation Today
It’s clear to see that breathwork meditation is an effective practice for natural healing. If you believe breathwork therapy could help you, the time to get started is now.
The best way to start breathwork is with the help of a trained guide. Check out our programs to learn more about upcoming opportunities.