What is Breathwork?
Be conscious of this unconscious prayer of your breath, for She is the most holy place of pilgrimage. She wishes for you to enter the crystalline temple of your being, where each breath is adoration of the infinite for the incarnate form...
“Most of us are not using our whole respiratory system to breathe. In fact, many of us use just 33%, a mere third of our total capacity. The next time you look at a newborn baby as they sleep, take note of the way their whole body is breathing and how their breathing is connected. Their back, belly and chest move together with no blockages. Toddlers usually breathe into their chests and their bellies. The breath moves consistently, like an ocean wave ebbing and flowing.
Each human being is unique, with a unique breathing pattern illustrating their story, where they are in the world, and how they perceive themselves. A breathing pattern may hold a story that encompasses trauma, early childhood experiences, belief systems, perceptual lenses, ancestral and cellular imprints, and beyond. Because our breath represents how we flow in life. But as we open and expand our breath, we have more energy and support for the body’s natural healing abilities. Our primary breathing muscles are the diaphragm, intercostals, scalenes and abdominals, yet many are over-working the upper chest muscles and not breathing into the diaphragm, which creates tension. There can be tightness in the diaphragm, which is attached to the deep-seated core muscle, the psoas (from the Greek word meaning ‘loin region’), and if this becomes tight, the hips also become constricted.
If we consider the way we breathe a metaphor for how we live our lives, it becomes obvious that as we restrict our flow of breath, we impede our natural flow. By focusing our intention on reaping the benefits of breathing, we begin to experience a relationship with our life force, our creative power. Once we revive this creative flow, we begin to nurture our bodies and minds, and the fear and pain we’ve unknowingly internalized as a result of trauma or destructive thought patterns is transformed into love, creativity and joy.”
On a spiritual level, breath is the carrier wave of life itself, the sacred bridge between spirit and matter, and the chariot of the soul. The word breath and soul, or spirit, are synonymous in many ancient languages. The Sanskrit word 'prana', the Latin 'spiritus', the Greek 'pneuma', the Hebrew 'ruach' and the Old Norse ‘önd’, are all words that unify the concepts of breath and spirit. Breathing techniques have been used by ancient cultures around the world for eons in order to access spiritual dimensions of the self, for the purpose of deep insight and transformation. In more modern times, various techniques stemming from this core practice have begun to permeate healing communities around the globe, with diverse benefits ranging from trauma release to transpersonal revelation.
Conscious Breathwork is the purposeful application of conscious, connected breathing in both one-on-one and group settings, guided by a skilled practitioner and the Spirit of Breath, held within a ceremonial container. The Spirit of Breath in this case refers to the multi-dimensional collective intelligence that naturally seeks balance and wide-spectrum healing, surrounding and guiding the act of conscious breathing. For thousands of years humans have found by changing the rate, ratio, volume and flow of the respiratory cycle, there can be experiential and perceptual shifts in consciousness, spiritual awareness, cognition and self-identity. More recently, when applied therapeutically, the shifts experienced in conscious, connected breathing has been proven to ignite a deeper sense of inner connection, somatic intelligence, emotional empowerment and psycho-spiritual integration.
The Sacred Breath Method is a gateway to non-ordinary states of consciousness where profound healing and transformative experiences can occur. Many who have studied and implemented this method say it is the next caliber of transpersonal healing and find it to be completely life-changing. Through the unfathomable intelligence of breath (Spirit), the breather is guided on a personal journey into their being, or soul. Here, one is able to access higher states of awareness, spiritual wisdom, and emotional breakthroughs (catharsis). The multi-faceted experience of the Sacred Breath Method incorporates conscious, connected breathwork, intentional ceremony, powerful music, high grade essential oils, vibrational sound, energy work, quantum breakthrough coaching, sacred circling/processing and various other tools to invoke the deeper aspects of one's being. Integration techniques follow the breathwork journey so that the experience may be solidified into day-to-day life.
Throughout the breathwork process, the healer within (the one who knows all already) will illuminate that which the breather needs to see, allowing for both a reclamation and reintegration of any abandoned facets of self and a releasing of limiting perceptual lenses (false beliefs/negative self-thought). Additionally, the breathwork will catalyze a powerful cellular healing process in the breather that is difficult to put into words and can only be experienced. There is an infinite wellspring of love, creativity, inspiration, passion, abundance and vitality awaiting you, just on the other side of releasing residual fear, trauma, grief, blockages, stagnations or false beliefs. Breathwork is the key to unlocking the crystalline grail within. It seeks to clear all that stands in the way of our most luminous expression and higher embodiment.
“Remember to breathe. It is after all, the secret of life.”
Breathwork may be used to:
- access multi-faceted healing and insight (physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual)
- experience overwhelming feelings of love, peace, compassion, and/or gratitude
- bring someone who is disconnected back into their feeling centers/emotional body; release emotional blockages
- allow one to get out of the head and into the heart
- give the breather a safe space for catharsis
- physically release and relax areas of tension or constriction in the body
- correct restrictive breathing patterns
- access repressed memories relevant to healing
- expand one's awareness to multidimensional planes/traverse higher realms of consciousness
- tap into more creativity, inspiration and passion
- harness a grounded and centered way of being in the world
- transform the negative side effects of long-forgotten events buried deep in one's unconscious
- help to uncover core imprints/wounds, particularly birthing, childhood and ancestral
- get in touch with one's spiritual essence
- be supported through a period of mourning or grieving
- explore feelings about the state of the world
- tap into emotional issues associated with physical illness
- discover one's higher calling, vocation and/or purpose
- experience mystical and non-ordinary states of being
- overcome feelings of discouragement, listlessness, or stagnation
- move past feelings of stuck-ness and re-energize one's life
- become empowered and/or reclaim one's worth
- deepen one's capacity to support themselves and their loved ones
- access one's inner wisdom and intuition
- know oneself more deeply
- create a more fulfilling life
- and so much more…
*Please note that breathwork should not replace pre-existing therapy and/or medical treatment and that no specific result is guaranteed.
The importance of breathing need hardly be stressed. It provides the oxygen for the metabolic processes; literally it supports the fires of life. But breath as "pneuma" is also the spirit or soul. We live in an ocean of air like fish in a body of water. By our breathing we are attuned to our atmosphere. If we inhibit our breathing we isolate ourselves from the medium in which we exist. In all eastern and mystic philosophies, the breath holds the secret to the highest bliss.”
- Alexander Lowen, The Voice of the Body
The Biological Need for Breathwork in the Modern World
"Breathing is the key that unlocks the whole catalog of advanced biological function and development. Is it any wonder that it is so central to every aspect of health? Breathing is the first place, not the last, one should look when fatigue, disease, or other evidence of disordered energy presents itself. Breathing is truly the body's most fundamental communication system." - Sheldon Saul Hendler, MD, Ph.D.
On the most basic level, breathing is a life-sustaining process more important than even food or water for our survival. Without breath, we could not exist for longer than a few minutes. Breathing deeply and consciously improves the quality of our health, emotions and our ability to be more present in our experiences, centering us so that we may show up, open and available, for both the beauty and challenges of our life.
Oxygen is our greatest and first source of energy. It is the fuel required for the proper operation of all bodily systems. Many find it surprising to learn that only 10% of our energy comes from food and water and 90% of our energy comes from oxygen. Thus, every cell in our body requires oxygen to live and, even more so, the optimal levels to thrive.
Further, billions of pounds of chemicals are being introduced into our air, water, soil and food annually and the impact these toxins have on our health and planet is critical. Every time we take in toxins from our environment, they enter our body and redistribute through our cells. Breathing deeply, however, cleanses our system of residual toxins and allows for oxygenated blood to circulate, purify and nourish our body. Breathing deeply also increases respiration and circulation, and as a result, improves the flow of lymphatic fluid, aiding in the elimination of waste in over 600 nodes throughout the body. In fact, did you know that breathing alone is responsible for 70% of toxin elimination within the body?
“Many healings of other physical troubles have occurred in my clients after they started to integrate breathing practices into their lives. There is a simple but encompassing reason that may explain this. The human body is designed to discharge 70% of its toxins through breathing. Only a small percentage of toxins are discharged through sweat, defecation and urination. If your breathing is not operating at peak efficiency, you are not ridding yourself of toxins properly.” - Gay Hendricks, Ph.D., Conscious Breathing, p.17
“The river is now. This moment. This breath between us. The space between your heartbeats. The moment before you blink. The instant a thought flashes through your mind. It is everything that is around us. Life. Energy. Flowing, endlessly flowing, carrying you from then...to now...to tomorrow. Listen. you can hear the music of it...”
Top Benefits of Breathwork Explained: Breathwork MAY...
- Soothe the Nervous System: Many individuals are in constant, low-grade stress as a result of the modern world and tend to breathe shallowly and quickly. However, deep and conscious breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which kicks off the natural relaxation response. This is the exact opposite of a stress response. Breathe slower, deeper, and more consciously when you feel stressed and notice the effects.
- Increase Clarity and Focus: Conscious breathing helps to oxygenate the brain. Try three slow, deep, conscious breaths the next time you are about to make an important decision. Feel the clarity. Notice your ability to focus more intentionally on the subject at hand.
- Elevate Consciousness: Ancient Shamanistic and Pranayama teachers in India reached altered states of consciousness through breathwork. Through a practice of noticing and thus controlling your breathing, you can create a consistent and elevated state of being with deep, slow, and conscious breaths throughout your day.
- Deliver More Oxygen to the Body: The 1931 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Otto Warburg who discovered that certain anaerobic diseases cannot thrive in a highly oxygenated environment. What’s one measure for increasing oxygen? Taking deeper breaths. Conscious Breathwork allows the breather to receive up to 60% more oxygen. Note: Sacred Breath Academy makes no medical claims and only references the work of doctors, researchers and PHDs. Please consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any protocol.
“Cells undergoing partial oxygen starvation send out tiny panic signals which are collectively felt in the body as a continuous vague sensation of uneasiness, dread or disaster. This low level generalized warning tends to get tuned out as mere ‘background noise’ by the individual experiencing it. Or, it is attributed to other sources of uneasiness ... People rarely suspect that the constant vague feelings of helplessness, fatigue … uneasiness are symptoms of cellular oxygen deprivation.” - The Townsend Letter For Doctors
“In all serious disease states we find a concomitant low oxygen state...Low oxygen in the body tissues is a sure indicator for disease...Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen in the tissues, is the fundamental cause for all degenerative disease. Oxygen is the source of life to all cells.” - Dr. Stephen Levine, Renowned Molecular Biologist and Geneticist, Oxygen Deficiency: A Concomitant To All Degenerative Illness
“All chronic pain, suffering, and diseases are caused by a lack of oxygen at the cell level.” - Dr. Arthur C. Guyton, MD, The Textbook On Medical Physiology
- Promote Restful Sleep: Deep, conscious breathing is thought to stimulate the pineal gland, which is associated with sleep patterns. You may also notice more lucid dreaming.
- Improve Skin: Deep, intentional breaths stimulate blood flow to the skin for a more radiant and youthful glow and could also help to prevent premature aging. Breathing deeply slows the aging process by increasing secretion of anti-aging hormones! By reducing stress, it improves our mood, elevating the levels of serotonin and endorphins. The Telomere Effect by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel chronicles a 2013 study by Harvard Medical School’s psychiatry department, which discovered that people who meditate daily for four years have longer telomeres – the protective caps found on the end of chromosomes – than those who do not. Short telomeres have been linked to premature cellular aging. It’s a universal truth that a happy face is more beautiful than a stressed or angry one!
- Support Healthy Digestion: A relaxed body is vital in proper organ function and we require healthy organ function to support our bio-systematic activities including digestion, elimination, and absorption. The benefits of deeper breathing include increased blood flow in the digestive tract, which encourages intestinal action, thereby improving overall digestive health. In addition, deeper breathing results in a calmer nervous system which also correlates to optimal digestion. When one is in prolonged stress states (sympathetic response), the first system to slow down is digestion. However, when the body is in a relaxation state (parasympathetic response), digestion is shown to improve and regulate.
- Reduce Cravings: Deep, conscious breathing can avert the need for an outside substance. The next time you reach for the soda/tobacco/alcohol/junk food/sweets/etc (or whatever your go-to may be), take three conscious breaths and ask yourself if this external stimulus is really what you are looking for. Feel the empowerment within yourself. Go from substances to substance.
- Positively Influence Gene Expression: Think of your genome as being like computer hardware. If you were to program your computer, you wouldn’t be changing the hardware, rather, you would be changing the software that tells the computer what to do. In the case of genes what we are really changing through the breath is the epigenome. To quote Dr. Randy Jirtle, “The epigenome would be like the software that tells the computer when to work, how to work and how much.” By regularly breathing deeply, you are telling your body you are calm, relaxed and safe, instructing it to operate accordingly, and thereby increasing your capacity to handle daily stressors in a new and centered way.
- Deepen Sleep: Deep, conscious breathing is known to stimulate the pineal gland, which is associated with sleep patterns. You may also notice more lucid dreaming.
The morning wind spreads its fresh smell.
We must get up and take that in,
that wind that lets us live.
Breathe, before it's gone.
DISCLAIMER OF LIABILITY
Spiritual and emotional work, breathwork, yoga, meditation and any other form of alternative healing should not be construed as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician, medical or psychiatric examination, diagnosis or treatment. Anyone interested in breathwork is also responsible for seeking the specific medical or psychiatric attention they need, should they need it.
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