We all breathe all the time. We breathe whether or not we mean to. And despite this, breath is not just another body function. Consciously changing your breathing can have immense benefits for you. Breathwork can improve your emotional and psychological well-being. You may have heard of Dutch cold-weather enthusiast Wim Hof. Wim Hof’s ability to withstand extreme temperatures is directly related to his breath training. His method is just one. There are practices from all over the world. Yoga, for example, includes breathwork techniques such as pranayama breathing. This week, we’re going to take a look at how our breath connects to our health. Your body responds to your breathing patterns. So, if your breathing tells it it’s good to calm down, you can fully let go. 

Breathing is deeply connected to the vagus nerve, which manages our feelings of safety and security. Deep, rhythmic breathing can activate this nerve and allow us to actually calm down. One type of breath work asks you to breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. The sustained exhale helps us to let go and relax. Kundalini fire breathing is another practice. It is a more intense exercise. You breathe in through your nose and press your belly out. Then you exhale back through the nose, pulling your belly in towards yourselfs. This fire breathing activates a potent life force in you. Depending on what energy you need to tap into, different breathworks access different parts of us. 

There are also breathing practices that allow us to access complex states of awareness. Holotropic breathing is one. Holotropic breathing was developed by the renowned psychologist Stan Grof. Holotropic breathing is a method for altering your mindstate in order to access trauma. The name holotropic means “moving towards wholeness.” The process involves accelerated breathing and particular music in a peaceful, conscious setting. With your eyes closed and lying on a mat, your breath and the music allow you to access what is deep inside. The inner healing intelligence that holotropic breathing accesses is unique to each person. If you are interested in holotropic breathing, it is advisable to seek out an experienced guide near you. Let us all move towards wholeness.