Using breathwork as a tool to access our inner wisdom
I understand that "breath" sounds like a simple concept. We all breathe, we don’t need to pay attention to it, it just happens naturally, right? But, the breathing that I’m talking about here is conscious breathing. I’m not referring to the fact of automatically breathing without being aware of it, but intentionally breathing.
Most of us are not breathing in an optimal level. We might be engaging in breathing patterns that can actually cause us damage or just not help us thrive. Our bodies are meant to engage in a constant process of natural detox. We are meant to release all the substances that are not serving us. When we have unhelpful breathing patterns, we might not be setting up our body for success in the detox.
I invite you to notice your breath right now, connect with it. How does it feel? Is it easily flowing? Is it tight? Can you feel your breath in your belly? Or in your chest? Are you breathing through your mouth or through your nose?
Whatever you are noticing is perfectly fine. There’s no need to judge. We are here to learn and grow together and embrace whatever we are feeling with love, curiosity and compassion.
What is breathwork?
Breathwork or pranayama (I’ll be referring to both indistinctly throughout the post) is a practise that engages in conscious or intentional breathing, that controls the breath. If we take the word pranayama from Sanskrit: “prana” means life force, vital energy or breath and “ayama” means control. So, it's basically the control of breath, the expansion of life energy in our bodies.
It’s interesting to see how breathwork seems quite modern or recent while is an ancient practise. I’m currently studying for my yoga teacher training and I find this subject fascinating because I keep seeing how much of our knowledge was born hundreds and hundreds of years ago! Things that are coming up now are deeply rooted in ancient practises.
The somatic experience of breath
One of the things that I love about pranayama or breathwork is that it connects us to our physical bodies. We live in a society that make us to disconnect from that physicality. Disassociation becomes an adaptive response that we adopt in order to survive. However, our bodies are extremely important when it comes to healing. (Our bodies are the home of our consciousness!!) Trauma, emotions and experiences are stored in this physical body. When we address our healing from a simple thought/mindset perspective we might not be able to see progress and results. Sometimes simple talking might not be fully adequate. Through breathwork we can connect and access essential wisdom for healing. We are engaging in our story through the whole body without language, so we can go even deeper and create a stronger connection. Thus, pranayama is a great tool to connect mind and body establishing a direct channel of communication between both. So we are again embodying our body, returning to it. We are accessing our inner world, our inner wisdom and just building a sense of internal trust. I am aware that this can feel so scary. I feel you. Just know that you can always go at your own pace and choose your limits and whatever they are, that’s perfectly fine. Or you can always work with a professional to guide you through the process. There’s no need to do this alone. If you would like to apply to work with me click here.
Breathwork and the nervous system
Let’s talk a bit more about the benefits of breathwork! If you read my previous blog posts or listen to my previous podcast episodes, you might remember that we talked about the nervous system and its responses. I would like to touch this subject again because it strongly connects with our breath. Our sympathetic nervous system is this branch of the autonomic nervous system that helps us mobilise, fight or run away from threats and danger. The problem is that our nervous system can switch into fight-or-flight with other non-life-threatening situations like stress or trauma. When this situation becomes chronic, we might not be giving the time to our bodies to heal, repair and restore.
By activating our parasympathetic nervous system, we can allow our bodies to relax and embrace healing. Pranayama plays a vital role in this as is helps activate the vagus nerve. This nerve is one of the most important nerves in our nervous system. It originates from the brainstem and ends in the peripheral organs of the body. To put it simple, it goes from the neck to the belly. Its main function is to power the parasympathetic nervous system. When we engage in breathwork and we stimulate the vagus nerve we are helping the body to relax, so it is easier for us to access a place of safety or ventral response, truly beneficial for trauma recovery and healing. It helps us reduce blood pressure, heart rate, adrenaline secretion…
Other benefits of breathwork:
· Increased cognitive function like memory and concentration.
· Reduction of physical pain.
· Improved digestion.
· Better quality sleep.
· Relief from anxiety and depression.
· Sustained energy throughout the day.
· Increased creativity.
· Decreased frequency of panic attacks.
Breathwork is just a wonderful tool that is free and that we can use at home and that can truly help us heal!
E-motions and the energetic body
We are energetic interconnected beings. I love embracing healing from this perspective as it allows me to pay attention to detail, to our subtle bodies.
Emotions are energy in motion. When we don’t process our emotions, when we distract from them, when we disassociate we are helping them get stuck. As I previously mentioned, emotions are stored in the body. I am aware that allowing yourself to feel all you emotions can be extremely challenging. I feel you. Engaging in breathwork can help you with it. It helps them release into the surface. Because we are allowing them to flare up so they can be felt, we can restore a healthy flow of energy. So breathwork is a great tool for accessing our whole being, from our physical bodies to our energetic bodies, clearing the path for freedom, life and health.
The use of pranayama in Yoga
You might think about yoga as just a physical practise or exercise. While nowadays it also involves this (even though in its origins, yoga was not a physical exercise), yoga goes beyond that. Yoga is meant to help us heal. But how does all of this connect with breathwork? Basically, pranayama is one of the pillars of yoga. In Ashtanga, pranayama is part of the 8 limbs of yoga that allows us to be fully present or conscious, that allows us to reach Samadhi. I wanted to mention this because my purpose in life is to help other people heal and yoga is such a great tool for that. I just wanted to suggest you to try it out and see how yoga connects movement to breath, how yoga engages in breathing exercises that help you bring awareness to your body and ultimately help you heal.
The 3 main points to remember from today’s post are:
Breath plays a vital role in our well-being. Bringing attention to it and intentionally breathing can be healing.
Breathwork allows us to connect with our physical body to access inner wisdom, allowing us to process repressed emotions and trauma.
Breathwork is a great tool to activate the parasympathetic system to help our bodies relax and heal
[DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor and this is not a substitute for medical treatment. Also, this is just my opinion and my own experience and I truly invite you to find what feels good for you. You don’t have to agree with everything that I say. Please connect with the space in your womb and find your own truth. I truly love and honour whatever your opinion is on the subject because is yours]