I was recently about to teach my course, Broadway Breathwork, to a group of folks and the press release changed the name of my class from breathWORK to breathWORKS….As I began composing a note asking to have it fixed, I realized that it was imperfectly, perfect. Breathwork IS work, but...it also works. How? Let’s start with the what ...
What exactly is Breathwork?
So, what is this “new hot pillar of health” that has seemingly become the new yoga? Well, breathwork is really an umbrella term for the conscious awareness of your breath and is really a practice that has been around for thousands of years. There are tons of variations, styles, and names, (mine is the only one that I know of where you get serenaded by a broadway singer …you do what you know ;)) but all types of breathwork offer the chance for massive transformation through improved mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.
How does Breathwork work?
Well, our breath, is literally what keeps us alive, and yet we often go through the day chronically shallow breathing, in a state of anxiety, or fight or flight, all day long. Breathwork, with its deep, rhythmic breathing, moves us out of fight or flight and into the parasympathetic nervous system. Got it? Good.
With our fight our flight turned off we are calm enough to hear and quiet that mean voice in our head that says we aren’t good enough, smart enough, whatever enough, and allows us to connect to our truth. A conscious shift to the things that bring us true joy! Yours, not what someone else thinks should be joyful. Not in the past, not in the future, right in the now.
By changing our breathing patterns, we change our life. By shifting our breath from our nose to our mouth, we shift from mind to body, no longer stuck in our heads.
The many benefits of Breathwork
Physiologically breathwork does so many things including ...
- By bringing in more oxygen and releasing more CO2 (aka carbon dioxide), our bodies become more alkaline. When the blood becomes more alkaline and with improved oxygen capacity, your physical workout routine becomes stronger, your sleep benefits, your performance benefits - all of it.
- Breathwork reduces cortisol, which reduces stress, which can lead to reduction in feelings of pain. [Plus, stress can be a secret saboteur of your weight loss progress!]
- Breathwork has an anti-inflammatory effect. Neurons in the autonomic nervous system fire more with our circular deep breaths, releasing epinephrine (what many people call “adrenaline”). A 2014 study out of Yale School of Medicine found that the epinephrine surge causes the innate immune system to increase its anti-inflammatory activity and dampen its pro-inflammatory activity.
- Breathwork can even help the digestive process by stimulating and increasing blood flow throughout the digestive tract and improving intestinal activity.
- Breathwork also reduces the uncomfortable symptoms of bloating and gas. (I mean ... who doesn’t want that?!)
- Breathwork creates a positive feedback loop by reducing stress, which reduces cortisol, which reduces gut inflammation.
- Lastly, on an emotional level, because you’re reducing your overall stress and anxiety levels when you practice breathwork, you set yourself up to make better food choices, and thus are less likely to overeat and/or eat the wrong foods that trigger digestion issues in the first place. Hello T100 program!
If you've been curious about breathwork and want to give it a try you can sign up for a class I lead weekly through. Broadway Breathwork. I also teach classes for Target100 throughout the year so make sure you're a part of the private Facebook group or newsletter to attend the next one!