Many people who have never done breathwork wonder what is the point of it; they want to know what the value or the benefits of it are.
For those of us who are immersed in the practice, the benefits are obvious, self-evident, and unarguable. But still, it is important to remind ourselves and to inform others of the astonishing power and potential of breathwork, and so that’s what I’d like to do.
We use breathwork for self-improvement and personal growth; we use it to increase our physical, emotional and cognitive wellbeing; we use it to enhance our creative abilities and to boost our self-healing capacities. We apply it for achieving peak performance, for attaining optimum health, and for realizing our ultimate potential.
Breathwork gives us greater physical, emotional and psychological endurance and resilience. With it, we can improve our brain and nervous system activity, and we can strengthen our immune system. Breathwork strengthens and vitalizes our muscles, tendons, nerves, bones, and vital organs.
We use breathwork to eliminate headaches, back aches and other types of pain—and without drugs. And we use it to prevent many illnesses and to avoid injuries. Breathwork is to psychosomatic illness what penicillin was to bacterial infections!
Breathwork gives us more energy on a day-to-day basis, and it helps us to sleep better. Breathworkers are not as tense, stressed, anxious or afraid—as often or as much—as others. Breathwork helps us to maintain a peaceful loving heart, a relaxed energized body, and a clear quiet mind—even in the most difficult moments of life.
Breathwork produces more success and harmony in relationships. It gives us more patience, empathy and compassion. We have a natural tendency to forgive and forget. It immunizes us against caregiver stress and burnout, while supporting us in expressing our greatest gifts.
We use it to overcome inherited limitations and genetic shortcomings, and to free ourselves from negative habits and tendencies. It helps us to recover from birth and infancy traumas; and it helps us to get free of negative or limiting family, cultural, and religious programming.
It helps us access greater intelligence, intuition, and wisdom. Breathwork opens us to non-ordinary and transcendent states of consciousness, and to a felt sense of our own natural divinity.
It takes our yoga and meditation or martial art practice to new and extraordinarily high levels. And it allows us to get more pleasure from sex—taking that naturally wonderful experience also to a whole other level!
And the best part of all is that with practice, anyone can reap these benefits! With good coaching and a minimum amount of knowledge and skills, you can begin to experience life-changing results starting from your very first practice session!
Here are the Two Basic Practices and Two Core Skills in Breathwork. Learn and practice these exercises and techniques and you are well on your way to being a master practitioner of breathwork!
Basic Practice #1:
Breath Awareness. This is mindfulness training. No need to breathe in any special way. Simply witness the breathing. Observing your breath. Take this on as a morning or evening ritual for 5, 10 or 20 minutes each day. And tune into your breathing for a moment or two from time to time as you go through your day. Notice how you breathe during various activities, situations, and interactions.
Basic Practice #2:
Conscious Breathing. Practice regulating your breathing. Learn breath control. Start with a simple practice: Inhale, exhale, pause. To start, make each of these natural phases of equal length. Perhaps a 4 second inhale, a 4 second exhale, and a 4 second pause. Or, you might practice a 5 second inhale and a 5 second exhale, with only a momentary transition between inhale and exhale. Another useful exercise is called “box breathing:” inhale 4, hold 4, exhale 4, hold 4. There are many conscious breathing exercises. The point is to take gentle control of your breathing, to regulate it. In other words practice breathing consciously and deliberately.
Core Technique #1:
Engaging the Exhale. Practice giving yourself big sighs of relief. Exaggerate them. Make them dramatic, theatrical. I’m talking a Shakespearian sigh of relief! Take in an inhale that is twice as big as your normal in-breath, or what a medical person would call your normal or average “tidal volume.” Then snap the exhale loose, let it go, set it free. And as you do, relax your muscles and joints, and deliberately enjoy the sigh of relief. Breathe in through your nose or your mouth—whichever is more enjoyable. Make a soothing “aahhh” sound as you exhale. Don’t underestimate the power of this simple yet powerful practice. Do it for a minute or two, just one big sigh after another without stopping.
Core Technique #2
Practice “Connected Breathing.” This is also called “continuous breathing.” It looks and feels and sounds like a wheel turning. There are no pauses or gaps between the breaths. The inhale connects to the exhale, and the exhale connects to the next inhale. The inhale is active, and the exhale is a passive exhale. Bring it all together into a smooth steady continuous gentle breathing rhythm.
An additional tip for deepening your practice and heightening the benefits
Yawning! That’s right: yawning! Practice triggering your yawning reflex right now. It’s easy. Wiggle your jaw and do something in the back of your throat to make yourself yawn. Then, while the yawn is happening, practice each of the two core techniques. Give yourself a big sigh of relief while you are yawning, and spin the breath like a wheel while you are yawning. It takes practice, but it is fun, it feels good, and it is very good for you! There you have it! Welcome to the world of breathwork! I wish you luck in your practice and many blessings on your path.