What is Breathwork?
If I told you that we all had a tool that, if used properly, can put us in a calm focused state, improving our mental clarity, would you want to learn how to use it? With practice, our breath can help us improve in many aspects of our life, including but not limited to: (1) using our breath to handle the stressors of life in a more relaxed manner; (2) giving you a quick pick me (similar to a cup of coffee); and, (3) quickly putting you to sleep. All you need is some training on how to utilize this free tool to benefit you in these areas for the rest of your life.
Breathing is the only system in our body that is autonomic yet under our control. It is the first and last thing we do in our lives and it keeps us alive without having to think about it. Respiration is priority number 1 for our bodies. In addition to all of this, God, nature, a higher power (whatever your belief), gave us breath as a tool to change our mental and physical state. Most of us in western cultures were not taught this tool or have any idea it exists until an outside event brings it into view. Most believe that breathing happens naturally and why would we ever need to learn to breathe? However, for thousands of years, some cultures have used their breath to change their psychological and physiological state. Science has confirmed that this is possible and is a skill that can provide major benefits to humans. This is a skill that we all have inside of us, we just need a little guidance to bring it out.
Types of Breathwork
There are many types of breathwork you can utilize depending on the circumstance and response you are seeking. Examples of these include Wim Hof breathing, holotropic breathwork, pranayama, and techniques such as Oxygen Advantage. All of these have their purpose and are designed to do different things to your nervous system. This article will briefly discuss the spectrums of our breath to provide you with a simple explanation of what is going on with your nervous system when you utilize different types of breathwork.
On average, we breathe roughly 10-14 breaths per minute at rest. On one end of the spectrum, we slow our breathing down and our heart rate slows, blood pressure drops, heart rate variability (HRV) increases and puts your CO2 and O2 in a more balanced state. All of this puts your nervous system in a more parasympathetic state, which is the rest, relaxation, and digestion state we were designed to be in a majority of the time.
On the other end of the spectrum, we increase our breath rate to 20+ bpm, increasing our heart rate, sympathetic nervous system, blood pressure, and the fight or flight response while decreasing HRV, CO2, and O2 efficiency. The decrease in CO2 changes the alkalinity in the
blood, which is why you might get light-headed or your hands begin to tingle while practicing breathwork. This practice is called super-ventilation and is a great way to train your respiratory muscles and elicit a positive immune response.
All of these techniques have different functions and can be used to help achieve desired goals throughout the day. For example, if you are trying to fall asleep or calm down, incorporate breach techniques on the left end of the spectrum. If you are trying to energize yourself before a workout or bring a euphoric feel to your body, focus on incorporating techniques from the right end of the spectrum.
If you are new to breathwork, the first thing you want to do is make sure you are breathing properly, which is through your diaphragm. The faster pace breathing methods are more advanced and if you are not adept at proper breathing, you can lay capacity on top of
dysfunction, resulting in more harm than good in the long run.
To Sum it Up
Learning to take control of your breathing can have a dramatic impact on your health and performance and provide you with a deeper understanding of what drives you. Training your body to breathe properly provides you with the tools to change your state on demand. You will become more efficient using oxygen, resulting in more energy and mental focus.
Like any practice or skill, the more reps you do, the better you will get, and the quicker you will be able to change your state and maximize your human potential. This powerful tool and the breath techniques discussed can be utilized for a lifetime.
Control your breath and change your life!
Call to Action
You can begin to take control of your breath with Symmetry’s NEW online Introduction to Breath and Performance. The course is designed to guide you through multiple techniques to improve your breath, your mindset, and your life. You can also join us for a virtual breath class, live, or recorded. It is time for you to control your breath and change your life. If you are ready for a more individualized approach, you can sign up for a free 15-minute call and take the next steps in taking control of your life.