How do we heal our root causes of stress without knowing what they are? The short answer is breathwork. Breathwork is an active meditation that helps quiet the mind enough to access and release unprocessed energy in the body. Breathwork is a self-healing tool that will teach you to reclaim your power, feel safe in your body, process unresolved emotions and belief systems. This stagnant energy and chronic activated nervous system state are linked to limiting beliefs, emotional instability, relationship problems, ongoing physical discomforts, and many more states of dis-ease. Think about how your breath changes with emotion. What is your breathing like when you are happy? When you are sad? Angry? Afraid? Our emotions affect our breathing, and turns out our breathing affects our emotional state! Turns out, people have known the effects of breathwork for thousands of years, Pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya are two of the formal yogic practices of controlling the breath, harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions. These techniques eliminate stress, fatigue, and negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and depression, leaving the mind calm, focused and the body energized, completely relaxed. Sudarshan Kriya translates to The Art of Living. So it's just us westerners with our science have finally started to catch up. There was a study that proved this connection between breath and emotions… There were two groups of people, one group was put under different external conditions to affect their emotional state, and their breathing pattern was recorded. The other group was instructed to do different breathing patterns, asked how they felt, and their emotional state recorded. End result – The breathing patterns and emotional states matched up between the two groups! Let’s go through some examples.
I’ll take you through a few breathing techniques. One is called water breathing. Breathe in for four seconds. Exhale out for four seconds. You can do this type of breathing any time because like water, it brings balance and nourishment to us. When your inhale is the same length as your exhale, you are well balanced.
Next is coffee breathing, which goes like this. Standing or sitting, raise your arms above your head. Breathe in through your nose. Now simultaneously exhale quickly through your nose and let gravity bring your elbows down to your sides (keeping your arms bent at your elbows). Inhale through your nose and bring your arms back up. Repeat this breathwork and movement for 30 seconds. This arm movement helps you exhale easier. This is energizing breathwork that gives you a boost of that sweet prana. Your inhale is a bit longer than your exhale. Your heart rate increases, Brain is signaled to be more active and alert. Instead of going for that second cup of coffee when you’re falling asleep after lunch, try this breathwork.
One more example is the 4-7-8 breath that can help you get to sleep. Inhale for four seconds. Hold for seven seconds. Exhale for eight seconds. When your exhalation is longer than your inhalation, your heart rate slows down, you become calmer, relaxed, and a signal is sent to the brain saying hey we can rest and digest.
Ok back to water breathing to balance yourself out.
Another way is the Wim Hof Method, his breathing technique has also been scientifically proven, showing that it heightens oxygen levels, alkalizes the body, and voluntarily activates the autonomic nervous system. This activates the immune response, increases energy, reduces stress and anxiety, and lowers inflammation. I have started practicing this breathwork, and wow so much internal stuff comes out, mainly in spasms and muscle contractions, lots of stagnant energy comes out. I feel such a release afterward like a weight has been lifted. You can learn this from his free mini-class.
He combines this with immersing oneself in cold temperatures such as a cold shower, which contributes to activating the immune system, reducing inflammation, balancing hormone levels, reducing stress, and increasing endorphins. He says by doing this we access our inner power, which many of us have lost touch with. Wim Hof has gone through several scientific studies that actually prove this is happening. It’s all listed on his website, including instructions and videos on how to practice the breathing technique.
Join me in the next lesson for more ways to heal your root causes of stress and suffering. We’ll get into Vipassana and Anapana meditation.