Breathwork is one of the fastest ways to heal and change situations. There are various exercises and techniques to get started with breathwork.
Working with your breath can be extremely beneficial for your physical, mental, and emotional health. It can reduce stress and help heal trauma. Some people work with a breath coach, others prefer to do a breathwork session on their own. No matter how you look at it, you always have your breath with you. And you can do much more with it than you think!
In this article, I will tell you what breathwork is, why it is a highway to healing, and how it can help you in your life.
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork has its roots in Asia. In the olden days, breathwork was used in Yoga and Thai Chi, for example. The term Pranayama is used in Sanskrit. Many other different cultures, religions, and traditions also have breathwork practices.
But what exactly is breathwork? Simply put, breathwork is working with your breath. There are different ways to work with your breath. When you meditate, you are also working with your breathing. You often use your breath as a focal point to concentrate during a meditation.
In breathwork, you change the way you breathe. Unlike your heart rate, for example, you can control your breathing. This means that you can use your breath to feel better.
Why Breathwork? What does it do? What is breathwork good for?
Each form of breathwork serves a different purpose, as you have read above. In general, it can be said that regular breathwork can help with:
cleansing the body
better immune system
reduction of trauma triggers
getting rid of stuck emotions
better focus and more clarity
reduces anxiety and feelings of depression
Breathwork is a highway to healing. When you are committed to regular breathwork, you will notice a difference in your life because you regularly "cleanse" your body.
Your body can relax. You can release emotions, fear, stress, and traumas. This will make you feel different and will also show in your life. We also know from research that stress reduction is good for our well-being and important for staying healthy.
Let me explain some different breathwork techniques for you.
Different Breathwork exercises and techniques
The biggest difference between these techniques is whether you breathe in and out through your nose or through your mouth. Another difference is the rhythm; slowing down the breath or speeding it up.
1. Deep breathing through the abdomen. One of the well-known ways to work with your breath is to slow down your breath. When you are stressed or anxious, it can help to take slow, long breaths in and out through your lower abdomen. When you breathe slower, your heart rate slows down. In this way, there is a more harmonious rhythm that can help you to relax.
2. 4-7-8 breathing. This technique involves breathing calmly through your nose for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 7 seconds. Finally, exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. When you exhale longer, it helps to empty your lungs completely. This breathing technique comes from yoga. It can help you to relax and helps improve your mindfulness.
3. Alternating nasal breathing. This breathing technique helps to create a balance between mind and body. First, inhale through your left nostril (hold a finger against your right nostril) and then switch sides so that you can exhale through your right nostril. Then, take a break with normal breathing and then do the same on the other side. Hold your breath while switching sides.
4. Breath of fire. In this technique, the focus is on the exhalation. It is an advanced breathing technique and is an ancient yoga technique. In this technique, you inhale slowly and then exhale forcefully and quickly using your abdominal muscles. This breathing technique is a cleansing technique. It can help remove waste from your body.
5. Holotropic/ Rhythmic Breathwork. In this breathing technique, you breathe in and out in a rhythmic fashion, without a break, for 10, 20, 30, or 40 minutes straight. For beginners it is good to work with a breath coach. When you work with your breath in this way, a lot of oxygen enters your body and renews your cells. This technique can release emotions and traumas that are stuck in your body.
What happens to your body during a breathwork session?
Each person has different experiences during breathwork. When you work with the more relaxing techniques, your heart rate will slow down and you will feel calm and relaxed. When you work with more intense techniques such as breath of fire or holotropic breathwork, the experience can be very different.
With holotropic breathwork, for example, so much oxygen enters your body that it starts to move things around. These movements can cause physical sensations, such as a change in temperature, tingling, heaviness of limbs, cramping of hands, and so on. These bodily sensations and movements are literally expressions of ingrained emotions and traumas that have been trapped in your body for a long time.
This form of breathwork may also bring up strong emotions. Some people have an emotional release during a breathwork session. This may sound intense, but this is the beauty and power of breathwork! A breathwork session can heal old emotions, beliefs, and traumas and can make you feel completely new. It is important to have enough time after a breathing session to come out of the session calmly so that you can integrate what has just taken place.
How does a breathing session with a breathing coach work?
It is not easy to give a general description of how a breathing session works. This is because, as described, there are so many techniques. Also, each breath coach has a different background or education and a different personality. Every coach works differently, so every breathing session is different.
The differences can be found in the following things:
The technique used.
The length of the session; with one breath coach a session lasts half an hour, with another it can be 2 hours.
The guidance of the breathwork; what information is given? How is guidance during the breathing session? Does the breath coach make time for a conversation with the client in advance?
The use of music or instruments or just the breath coach's voice.
Online or in real life. A breathwork session works just as well online as when the breath coach sits next to you. Some people prefer online because this way they can be in the safe cocoon of their home during the session. It is important that you feels safe enough to do the breathwork session with a remote breath coach. If this is not the case, it is best for the person to work with a breath coach in “real life”.
When to work with a breath coach?
The relaxing, slow breathing exercises can be done on your own. But if you have never experienced breathwork like the breath of fire or holotropic breathwork or if you have never done active breathwork exercises, it is recommended that you first work with a breathwork coach or register for a breathwork group if you find one in your area.
When you first start working with your breath, especially with the more intense techniques, sensations or emotions may arise that may feel overwhelming at first. Applying the technique correctly can sometimes be challenging.
The guidance of a breathwork coach can help you go through the breathwork process. Once you are more experienced, it is easier to do breathwork by yourself.
Would you like to experience an online breathwork session? I'd love to go on the adventure with you!
I will teach you the technique during our session so that you can continue with this breathwork technique yourself afterwards.
In addition, we start with a conversation so that some kind of intention for the session can arise. We see what's going on with you at that moment, what's bothering you and what you want to heal. Then I explain the technique to you before we get started.
By setting an intention in advance, signals are unconsciously sent to your body so that it knows what needs to be healed. The breathwork sessions that I guide are accompanied by music songs.