what is breathwork?
Our breath is the one voluntary and involuntary physiological action of the body and brain and it has a massive impact on our mental, physical, and emotional health. This is because breathing is controlled by our autonomic nervous system which also controls our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, sexual arousal and influences our emotions.
Breathwork is an umbrella term for any form of intentional breathing practices. Pranayama (the breath technique that I facilitate) is a yogic breathing method that has been used since the origins of yoga (~2500 B.C.)
how can breathwork help me?
There are two divisions of the autonomic nervous system; the sympathetic response and the parasympathetic response.
When we are in the sympathetic response (a.k.a. “fight or flight”) our autonomic nervous system floods the body with stress hormones to respond to a perceived threat. Once the threat is over, the body moves into the parasympathetic response of “rest and digest” where our body can regenerate and heal.
The problem comes when the perceived threat doesn’t end, and our bodies continue to produce high levels of stress hormones (in the case of a modern high-stress environment), keeping us in the sympathetic response.
This can lead to long-term anxiety and stress.
This is because emotions are chemical responses in the body. When we are in the sympathetic response, we are releasing chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol that make us feel anxious or stressed.
Whereas when we get our body into the parasympathetic response, we are releasing chemical like serotonin and dopamine that make us feel happy and calm.
Breathing is a simple and natural way to get our autonomic nervous system back into the parasympathetic response where our body can recover and our mind can become neutral.