Breathwork: What is it and what are the Benefits?
"Breathing is the foundation of life. The first step in enhancing health, performance and longevity is through the optimization of breath" XPT - Laird Hamilton
Breathing is something you probably dont think to much about, but to many of us go through life breathing incorrectly and not acknowledging the impact this has on our mind, health and overall performance.
Did you know you can energize yourself and also down-regulate your stress response all through the breath?
Breathing is automatic and not automatic at the same time. Respiratory function is controlled in the brain stem, the part of the brain that controls the basic things that keep us alive, like a heartbeat. You still breathe when you’re unconscious, asleep or anaesthetised. But, in some ways, it’s closer to somatic functions (such as walking) than autonomic, involuntary functions (such as sweating). You don’t have to think about each step you take, you just head somewhere. Your brain automatically adjusts your steps, just as your brain will occasionally insert a sigh when it needs more oxygen.
But you can also decide to hold your breath, superventilate or, use your breath “as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind” and unpack bottled up emotions.
Awareness of the importance of the breath is shared by many ancient traditions, including Shaolin monks, yoga practitioners and nowdays is a tool considered so valuable and integral to optimal performance that olympic athletes and special force soldiers spend time mastering different breathing techniques.
How you breath influences:
- The oxygen release from the haemoglobin to the cells
- Blood circulation
- Movement mechanics
- Spinal stabilization
- Your emotional state
Actually every system in the body is affected by how you breathe!
What are some of the benefits of regular breath-focused practice?
1. Breathing through the nose and using the diaphragm activates the calming receptors that activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
2. It helps regulate psychological state, and with managing our emotions. Learning to control the breath can help stop panic attacks, freezing or choking under pressure.
3. It assists in bringing our heart rate into a range that’s conducive to optimal cognitive and physical performance.
4. WIm Hof's breathing technqiue can postively affect our immune system giving us a natural way to fight off viruses.
5. It helps to optimally oxygenate the body and all its organs to give us full energy and heal faster.
6. A breathing practice can enhance inner peace, focus and thought control.
7. A breathing practice strengthens the important diaphragm muscle, which tends to weaken as we get older.
8. It helps release anxiety, stress and tension in the body.
9. Using the diaphragm muscle helps massage and move the inner organs supporting digestion and detoxification.
10. Diaphragmatic breathing stops the overuse of the upper chest and intercostal muscles – this occurs when we just breathe into the upper third of our lungs, leading to tight and shortened muscles in the neck, shoulders and chest. It can therefore help us have better posture.
11. Optimal breathing boosts athletes’ performance as it helps them to control their physiological and psychological reactions to stress.
12. Oxygenating your body in an optimal way allows you to also flex your muscles more intensely. In sport, this can offer peak performance benefits.
Now more than ever breathwork has become a relevant practice to incorporate into your routine.
The Breath is our rhythm, our energy, our very life force. Intentional breathing not only reconnects us to ourselves, but also to the collective. Our breath is the bridge between our conscious and subconscious minds.
If you are unsure where to start with incorporating a breathwork practice into your life or want to try a variety of Breathwork styles and understand the science behind the techniques come and join the O2 Adventure 8 week Breathwork series.
These sessions will be hosted Tahi Space in New Plymouth beginning July 2nd. Sessions will run weekly on Thursday 5.30-6.30pm. There's an option to join for one class with a theme of interest or the whole 8 weeks.
Breathwork is a powerful way to access your body’s innate intelligence to heal itself. While there are many variations, styles and names, all types of breathwork offer the chance for personal growth and transformation through improved mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
It is said that how we breathe is how we live, and so to live life to its fullest, we believe we should breathe to our fullest. Because breathwork literally raises our energy it’s one of the key therapeutic modalities to use to cultivate overall well-being and resilience.
This Breathwork series bridges ancient wisdom with modern science to help you unlock our full potential and reconnect with your essence. Come breathe with us and begin to experience firsthand the healing power of the breath!