It's that time of year where we could all use a little reminder to return to our bodies, and even more importantly...our breath. Between the stress of the holidays, family gatherings and wrapping up everything from the past year, something as simple as the way we breathe can have a huge impact on our overall health. When we focus on breathwork – the therapeutic practice of consciously controlling our inhales and exhales – we open the door to a whole new world. To learn more about the power of breathwork, our body's most overlooked system, and how to get started, read on.
Our Body’s Most Overlooked System
Because it happens involuntarily, we rarely pay attention to the truly amazing, fantastic miracle of our body’s respiratory system. Breathing delivers energy, life-force and prana into our whole being, in mere seconds. We also expungee the toxins, stress and trapped energy each time we exhale. So when something goes wrong and we’re no longer breathing properly, energy becomes blocked, and our health is at risk. It’s worth noting also, that the times in our lives when anxiety, depression, or fear takes hold, we tend to feel it in our breath. And breathwork, it turns out, can be a powerful (and simple) practice to improve our health and manage anxiety.
The Power Behind Breathwork
Adding breathwork into our practice – even if we already use meditation, yoga, therapy or medication to manage stress – can have many benefits. Since breathwork can be done at any time, with or without an instructor, and it requires no equipment or medication, anyone can jump right in to get started. And unlike meditation which can take time to master, breathwork offers a more immediate release of stress and releases unconscious energy, repressed emotions and mental blocks. Ultimately, a major benefit of this practice is that it creates more space for energy to flow through our minds and bodies. And, it’s available whenever and wherever we need it.
Breathwork for Cancer Treatment and Recovery
Many of us going through various stages of cancer treatment and recovery deal with heightened levels of stress, anxiety and depression. And practices such as meditation, breathwork and yoga can supplement our treatment and improve our mental health. Research on breathwork has shown that it impacts both the autonomic and central nervous systems. It also impacts our psychological and behavioral systems by reducing anxiety, anger, depression and confusion.
More research is looking into its ability to lower inflammation, and many studies have been done on the Wim Hof method for its ability to improve immunity and accelerate the healing process.
Dr. Andrew Weil’s breathing technique has been around for so long, we can’t remember when we first heard about it. This easy practice of breathing in for the count of 4, holding for seven, and exhaling for eight seconds is so simple. Yet it instantly acts like a reset button when anxiety levels are in the red. Other breathwork techniques have been touted for their ability to stop intrusive thoughts, OCD and anxiety, and most can be done from the comfort of one’s bed. The good news is, the equipment to get started is right in front of us.
While our minds are powerful and fascinating byproducts of evolution, the mere fact that we can’t turn them off is evidence that we’re not perfect. With breathwork, though, we can hit the reset button, relax and learn to find focus on simple, easy steps that lead to better health and wellness. It’s easy to get started, and our minds, and bodies, will thank us.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh