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The Health Benefits Of Breathwork

If you suffer from high levels of stress and overwhelming emotions and find it hard to switch off, relax and disconnect from the world around you, you may want to try Breathwork.

Breathwork encompasses various techniques, but as a whole, it is a form of meditation where you breathe mindfully and regulate the flow of breath through your body. It may sound simple, but this technique has proven highly effective in many ways, from overcoming trauma to helping decrease physical fatigue and stress. Health experts recommend Breathwork in many fields.

Breathwork: How It Works

Mindful Breathing serves physical, emotional, and psychological purposes!

When we take deep breaths and focus on Breathing, we initiate our bodies' relaxation response and, in turn, reduce stress. Breathwork can be done anywhere at any time; however, it is most effective in quiet spaces that are calming to us, often out in nature.

How Breathwork Impacts Our Physical Wellbeing

Breathwork helps aid feelings of high stress and anxiety. Our bodies' involuntary systems are influenced when we practice these specific breathing patterns.

Lowered Blood Pressure & Heart Rate

In stressful situations, our bodies release hormones that can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and even narrow blood vessels. Over time Chronic stress can lead to various future health problems, including stroke and heart disease.

You can lower your blood pressure following this simple exercise:

  1. Empty your lungs and inhale through your nose while silently counting to four.
  2. Hold your breath to the count of seven.
  3. Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
  4. Repeat this process consecutively three or four times in a row.

Pain Management & Chronic Pain

Breathwork triggers the body's relaxation process, which calms our bodies' physical responses to anxiety and stressful situations. Mindful Breathwork also distracts us from the wearies on our mind, including pain. Studies have also shown that Breathwork increases our ability to process pain!

Deep Breathing helps reduce pain and fear. Here are simple steps you can follow:

  1. Inhale for a count of 3 seconds.
  2. Exhale for another count of 3 seconds so there is no breath in the lungs.
  3. Hold your breath for 10 seconds.
  4. Take a breath

Improved Digestion

Believe it or not, Breathwork can also help digestion! As we know, Breathwork can help regulate healthy blood pressure by lowering it in times of stress. This also helps digestive processes by increasing the blood flow through the digestive tracks. Often when we're in stressful situations, our body physically reacts in the form of an upset stomach- by reducing our stress with Breathwork, we are also reducing cortisol levels which often suppresses the digestive system alongside our immune system.

Improved Lung Capacity

Breathwork is also commonly recommended for people looking to improve their lung health. A 2016 study found that even heavy smokers were able to improve their lung capacity due to routinely practised Breathwork. Breathwork can also help strengthen your respiratory muscles and improve oxygen intake!

Here's an exercise to help improve lung capacity:

  1. Inhale slowly through your nose.
  2. Purse your lips
  3. Breathe out as slowly as possible through pursed lips. Make sure you take at least twice as long to breathe out as you did to breathe in.
  4. Repeat.

Improves Sleep & Reduce Insomnia

Breathwork can help you get a better night's rest if you struggle to fall asleep! Not only does Breathwork help aid insomnia, but it helps regulate our energy levels and relax our mind & body so we can fall asleep easier.

The simplest breathing technique to help you fall asleep:

  1. Take a long, deep inhale.
  2. Exhale fully while focusing intently on how you feel.
  3. After doing this a few times, slow down exhaling until it's twice as long as inhaling.

Increase Muscle Tone and Fitness

Practising Breathwork also helps build muscle tone. The more mindful and deeply we focus on our Breathing, the less likely we're allowing toxins into our bodies. Alkanised blood helps build sensory-motor neurons and smooths our bodies' muscle contractions allowing more movement, higher ease of movement and generally easier ability to exercise.

Stress & Anxiety

The most common and compelling reason to practise Breathwork is to reduce stress. When stressed, our breathing pattern often changes, and our steady deep breaths become shallow and small. Continuous shallow Breathing can lead to hyperventilating and worsened symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Mindful Breathing helps us regain that steady breath and, in turn, eases the feelings of stress and anxiety by cancelling our fight or flight stress response, allowing us to let go.

For an even more impactful result, practice mindful Breathing in nature. It further helps reduce stress hormones, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, improve mood and more. Nature is the antidote for stress.

Here's a good breathing exercise for relieving anxiety:

  1. Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
  2. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  3. Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may need more time to reach 5.
  4. Then let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again if you find this helpful.

Helps Heal & Overcome Trauma

In a recent Drop Bio Health event, we spoke with trauma experts with personal stories and clinical views. Our health experts highlighted the positive impact breathwork and mindful breathing has on individuals dealing with trauma.

Breathworks' ability to relax and put us in the present moments allows individuals to overcome trauma triggers and helps trauma victims begin to heal and move forward.

Improves Focus & Boosts Creativity

Breathwork brings us back to the present moment as it removes emotional or mental distractions that may be hindering our ability to focus. Breathworks' ability to clear the mind and refocus us is also why it helps boost creativity, where creative individuals can fill their minds with inspiration and room to be creative with fewer distractions.

The Bottom Line

Breathwork has endless benefits for our mental and physical wellbeing. From our emotions to our psychological and physical state, there is no area of our body that Breathwork can't positively impact in some way.

If you want to start practising Breathwork, watch the webinar on demand: 'Improving Wellbeing Through Breathwork' with Dr Kaitlin Harkness.

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