What do mindfulness, meditation, and introspection have in common? All three center around the intentional control of your breath.
Humans, unlike many animals, are unconscious breathers, meaning that we do not have to think about breathing, it’s a programmed unconscious habit. Although we don’t have to think about our breathing in order to do it, it doesn’t mean that we cannot reap vast benefits from intentionally controlling our breath.
Afterall, one of the fundamental qualities of any activity involving deep concentration or focus is the slowing down of the breath. Think back to the testing room, the free throw line, a chess match, these are all characterized by slow, typically inaudible breathing.
Even more fundamental is how our breath affects our emotions. Anger, grief, anxiety, excitement are all characterized by an increase in breathing frequency, while being calm, focused, or content all feature a decrease in breathing.
Learning to control your breathe can have profound effects on your life…
- Benefits Of Breathwork
- Types Of Breathwork
- How To Add Breathwork Into Your Routine
Benefits Of Breathwork:
A quick google search on the, “benefits of breathwork” will quickly leave you with a substantial list of the many potential benefits of breathwork including:
- Balanced blood pressure
- More time in deep sleep
- Stronger respiratory function
- Better immune system
- Release of stress hormones from your body
- Fewer feelings of depression and anxiety
- Increased mental focus
- Control over mood
As stated previously breathwork in many ways parallels meditation, with an intentional focus on your breathing. This is largely characterized by a slowing of your inhales and exhales and depending on the form of meditation bigger or smaller breaths.
If you're read my article How Meditation Works | The Science Of Meditation, you may remember the assertion I made regarding the benefits of meditation being largely due to an increase in CO2 retention which I think holds true to breathwork as well. As you may know CO2 is a potent metabolic enhancer, helping the cell to absorb more oxygen and thereby burn more enery and acting as a vasodilator, increasing the amount of bloodflow to the cell. This combination likely results in many of these benefits seen through intentional breathwork like reduced blood pressure, drops in blood sugar, increase in body temperature, inducing calmness, ect.
Types Of Breathwork:
As discussed previously, there are many different types of breathwork including:
- Meditation/Mindfulness - The intentional slowing of the breath to allow you to focus on your body
- Box Breathing - Characterized by a 4 second inhale and exhale and a 4 pause between each, box breathing is an effective method of breath control often used by those in high-pressure situations or calm yourself down.
- Timed Breathing - Other types of breathwork that use 3 or 4 numbers to describe the amount of type for inhale, exhale and any pause between them.
- Holotropic Breathing - This is an intense form of breathwork which revolves around extreme slowing of the breath to a near hypoxic (low oxygen) state creaing a hallucinogenic experience.
- Yoga & Tai-Chi - Yoga and tai-chi are both forms of exercise that place an emphasis on the importance of breathwork to be able to control both your body and mind.
- Diaphramatic Breathing - Breathing with a focus on allowing the diaphgram to contract and expand.
- Pursed Lip Or Balloon Breathing - These are breathwork techniques that are designed to facilate a more complete exhalation, forcing the diaphram to contract by intentionally shortening the muscle.
How To Add Breathwork Into Your Routine:
Due to breathwork's many profound benefit, the ability to utilize it nearly anytime or anywhere, and how little time it takes, makes it something that we should all likely all be doing daily. If you are looking to add some form of breath work into your routine, I recommend picking a certain amount of time that you want to dedicate to it and choosing a time everyday where you will be available to do it, in the morning or at night are the go-to recommendations.
You can also utilize many of the apps or youtube videos that can provide a timer, metronome to monitor your breathing, relaxing music and even a reminder not to forget to practice. Both headspace and calm are two highly recommended apps I've used in the past.
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My goal in writing this article is to provide you with logically-based principles that you can use to form your own conclusions. I really hope you found this article interesting. If you have anything to add to this article, feel free to reach out to me via our facebook groups or on Instagram @tylerwoodward_fit. Also, please feel free to share this article with anyone that might be interested.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time… be good