All About Breathwork - Healing, Consciousness, How & Why
Breathing is something that we do everyday. Its automatic. The problem is that many of us are going through our entire day breathing incorrectly. So many of us are in a constant state of stress/anxiety and we don’t even realize it because we are so used to it. It's become the "new normal." The sympathetic nervous system is part of your autonomic nervous system that controls your fight or flight response. This means that living in a high anxiety/stressed state keeps you in this survival mode intended to respond to perceived threats. This is an important biological response if you were in extreme danger, but not functional to live with on a regular basis. Breathwork techniques are various types of breathing exercises that activate the parasympathetic nervous system;the system that produces a more calm/relaxed state for the body and mind.
Breathwork can be described as various techniques of changing your breathing patterns in order to achieve positive biological affects like reducing blood pressure, decreasing inflammation, reducing cortisol levels, raising your Blood PH, etc. Breathwork may also help you achieve positive psychological and spiritual affects like accessing higher states of consciousness, mood elevation, anxiety reduction, self awareness, deep meditation, trauma release, better sleep, etc. The goal at the end of the day is to use this tool as well as many others to live a happier healthy life.
So many Ancient cultures all around the world developed many different breathing techniques, but with a common understanding of breathwork. The field of Quantum Physics is beginning to create that missing link between Science and the cultures who were around (and many still around) for thousands of years. Science dictates that everything that exists in the Universe vibrates and has a vibrational frequency. Ancient teachings of breathwork involves using your physical body to pump, cleanse, and raise the vibrational energy (frequency) of your auric field. We put so much emphasis on technology in our everyday lives in attempt to feel something positive. Breathwork is a kind of biological technology that - with practice - can help take lower, slower frequencies and transmute them to higher, faster frequencies. The teachings suggest that when your energy field is vibrating at a higher frequency, you experience more positive physical emotions.
Things are happening on a physical and meta physical level. It makes sense if you understand your thoughts and emotions as frequency. Emotions that create positive feelings like peace, joy, love etc, have higher vibrational frequencies, while emotions that exhibit negative feelings like anger, guilt, shame, etc. would have lower frequencies. For example, If you are experiencing anxiety, breathwork exercises use a physical practice of patterns of breathing in order to help change the frequency of what you are emoting. The idea is to take a perceived negative emotion you are experiencing - like persistent fear - and change the frequency of that emotion to a more positive one, such as a feeling of calmness.
I am someone who dealt with depression and anxiety throughout my entire life. I walked around daily with that sense of heaviness and weighed down feeling that many people can relate to. I have tried every type of intervention there was, but nothing would help me on a consistent basis until I found and began practicing breathwork on a daily basis. I began to feel lighter again.
It’s important to understand that the goal isn’t to never feel negative feelings, that is an unachievable goal. The goal is to identify when you are feeling those negative feelings (lower frequencies) and then bring yourself back to a more positive feeling (higher frequency). When I talk to people about breathwork and its relationship to anxiety and depression, I talk about the importance of focusing on the present. Yes, you want to understand why you feel the way you feel, but breathwork is an important tool in order to help someone cope in the moment. If a person's consciousness is focusing too much in the past (may have depressed emotions) or too focused on the future (anxiety), breathwork is a tool - when practiced regularly - that will help bring you back to the present. Almost every person that does breathwork with me on a consistent basis has said that afterwards they feel a sense of clarity. If they were experiencing negative emotions, they felt a sense of release and became more clear-minded after breathwork.
The present is where we are able to do the most work on ourselves. Meditation is a practice that allows you to dive deep into your consciousness in order to create more self awareness and self understanding. I always wanted to meditate, I knew it would help, but meditation was always a difficult practice for me. It's supposed to be effortless, but I would find myself thinking about trying not to think which just creates an endless cycle of thinking (The Philosopher Alan Watts talks in depth about this topic). My mind was always so all over the place and I would even be afraid to try because I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts. With practice, breathwork was the method I used that would get my mind to relax enough so I would be able to sit there with myself and focus. When you read about cultures who meditate and practice breathwork, you understand that breathwork is a prerequisite to meditation.
There are many types of breathwork practices including Pranayama, Wim Hoff Method, Holotropic Breathwork, Soma Breathwork etc. In my opinion everyone should practice breathwork, but at your own pace. You should try different methods to find which techniques work best for you and make sure you are not overworking yourself. Try to keep yourself in a calm relaxed state while you do it. I think the healthiest thing to do is set a goal of doing at least 5-10 minutes a day. Some days I do breathing exercises for 10 minutes and other days I do over an hour of Breathwork. There are many videos on youtube that are helpful guided breathwork videos. I've posted on IGTV a lot of short breathwork videos on my studio's Instagram page. Always consult a doctor before trying anything new.
Steve is the owner and head personal trainer at Transformation Fitness Studio here on Staten Island. He leads group breathwork classes (currently virtually!) and invites anyone and everyone to join in. Make sure to follow him and the studio on Instagram. There, you can find all the info on the breathwork sessions as well as personal training!