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Why Explore Breathwork?

What if we could harness the breath as an anchor for our awareness, a gateway into our physical, mental and emotional state at each and every moment? What if we could use it as a window into our subconscious, and explore why we do the things we do? What potential could we unlock if we became totally aware of ourselves, each and every moment?

To me, breathwork is one of the simplest and most important tools for your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. The breath is accessible anywhere, allowing you to tap into it’s healing potential, at any time; all it takes is just a moment of awareness. In essence, the breath represents the duality and oneness that is present in all things, in perfect balance. It is made of an inhale: yang, masculine, action, totality… and the exhale: yin, feminine, surrender, void, death.

When we are out of harmony in our breath, then we become out of harmony with life, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. How?

Our body responds to the breath on a molecular to a systemic level. Each breath we take, and how we take it, can create a variety of responses in our body. You can even experience this while reading this. Sitting or lying down, take 5 rapid volumous inhales through your mouth, into your belly, up into your upper chest and out of your mouth! Exhale like a balloon, meaning let your body’s own elasticity exhale for you. Be careful! You may feel dizzy as you bring in more vibrancy into your body! Close your eyes and feel the effects on your body. How do you feel?

Now, calm your system down by taking 10 deep, slow controlled breaths in through the nose, and releasing it out like a balloon, with softness. You will probably feel your body responding by slowing down the heart rate, your muscles relax as your parasympathetic system comes online. Close your eyes again and feel into your internal landscape. How do you feel?

Just within a few minutes, you have activated your sympathetic (activation) and parasympathetic (relaxation) system which has created a cascade of powerful responses in the body. We may find one was more comfortable than the other, which may change during the day, or due to life circumstances, or possibly a habitual tendency to stay in our comfort zone.

That’s breathwork in a nutshell. It’s maintaining awareness of the breath in all life’s situations and maintaining harmony. And observing if it is appropriate for the situation. With regular breathwork, we can start consciously practicing increasing our capacity and resilience to meet life’s challenges with the breath. It is like martial arts; we practice the art of breath, in all its forms we can contemplate, for when life brings us a curve ball, we stay centered and meet the energy appropriately.

One amazing bonus to this is that we step out of the passenger seat and into the driver’s seat of our body. Not only can we prepare ourselves for life’s events, it also helps with everyday life: we can harness the power of our breath to bring in more power, energy and focus when we need it, or fall into a deep state of relaxation when appropriate, rather than turning to external addictions or habits to do so. Have you ever thought why you do the things you do?

This is important: our nervous system is designed to self-regulate, keep us safe and functioning, maintaining a homeostasis within our body. One way of doing this is creating repetitive patterns within our subconscious to self-regulate – i.e., if our sympathetic tone is high (i.e. stressed), our nervous system will seek out ways to come back into rest and digest. If we do not work with our body consciously, it will seek out ways to do this outside of ourselves.

For example, if we are stressed, we may habitually turn to alcohol or drugs to force our body into parasympathetic rest and digest (alcohol is a depressant). If we feel a certain emotion, we may turn to food to avoid further feelings of that emotion as it feels ‘safer’ to avoid it. Perhaps we turn to coffee to wake our body up and focus, rather than relying on our own body’s mechanisms to do so?

What if we were taught breath techniques and healthy methods of maintaining a healthy nervous system, to work with our mind, body, and emotions in harmony to achieve our desired outcomes in life?

This is a lot to take in, so I am going to address how breath can bring more awareness and control at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels of the human experience in the coming posts! The next post I will go into describing addictions and the nervous system, and how the breath can help shift some of the habits we have created for ourselves.

Antosh Sokol

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