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Natural Medicine

Natural Medicine

Breathwork

Breathwork
Breathwork is a term that refers to any type of breathing exercise or technique that promotes mindful, conscious breathing. There are many different forms of breathwork, including pranayama, a yoga practice that involves controlling the breath to achieve certain physical and mental benefits.

History of Breathwork
Breathwork has been practised for thousands of years across many different cultures and traditions. One of the earliest recorded practices of conscious breathing can be traced back to ancient India, where the practice of pranayama was developed as a part of the yoga tradition. In China, Taoist masters taught breathing techniques to cultivate the life force energy known as qi. The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, wrote about the importance of breathing and its role in maintaining physical and mental health. In more recent times, the field of breathwork has expanded to include a variety of techniques and approaches, ranging from the therapeutic to the spiritual. Today, breathwork is becoming increasingly popular as a tool for stress reduction, relaxation, and personal growth.

What is the difference between breathwork and meditation?
While breathwork and meditation share some similarities, they are two distinct practices. Meditation typically involves focusing the mind on a particular object or idea, while breathwork involves actively engaging with the breath to promote relaxation and reduce stress. While meditation can involve breathing techniques, breathwork is specifically focused on using the breath as a tool for relaxation and stress reduction.

What are the benefits of breathwork?
There are many potential benefits of practising breathwork regularly. Some of the most commonly reported benefits include:
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved focus and concentration
  • Increased feelings of relaxation and calmness
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduced symptoms of depression
  • Improved immune function
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Enhance sporting performance.

What are some common breathwork exercises?
There are many different breathwork exercises and techniques to choose from, depending on your specific goals and preferences. Some common breathwork exercises include:
  • Diaphragmatic breathing: This technique involves breathing deeply into the diaphragm, which can help promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  • Box breathing: This technique involves inhaling for a certain number of counts, holding the breath for the same number of counts, and then exhaling for the same number of counts. The final hold after the last exhale also allows for the ‘box’ to be complete. This can help regulate the nervous system and promote calmness.
  • Alternate nostril breathing: This technique involves closing off one nostril and breathing in through the other, then switching sides and exhaling through the other nostril. This can help balance the body's energy and promote relaxation.

Can breathwork impact mental health?
Breathwork has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, particularly when it comes to reducing symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. By promoting relaxation and reducing stress, breathwork can help improve mood, increase feelings of calmness, and reduce negative thought patterns.

While more research is needed, there is some evidence to suggest that breathwork can be an effective tool for reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep quality, and promoting relaxation. One study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that a 10-week breathwork program was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

How often should I practise breathwork?
The frequency and duration of your breathwork practice will depend on your individual needs and goals. Some people find that practising breathwork for just a few minutes a day can be beneficial, while others may prefer longer or more frequent sessions. It's generally recommended to start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the technique.

Is breathwork safe for everyone?
Breathwork is generally considered safe for most people. However, if you have a respiratory condition or any other health concerns, it's always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider before starting a new breathwork practice or practise with a professional.

How to Choose a Breathwork Practitioner
It can be quite difficult to find a Breathwork practitioner, there are a few websites and associations that can help:
  • The International Breathwork Foundation (IBF) can help you find a practitioner in your area.  
  • The Australian Breathwork Association (ABA), which aims to promote awareness and understanding of breathwork and provide resources for you to find the right practitioner for you. 
  • Bodhi Holistic Hub provides a few options for Breathwork practitioners, all carefully vetted and verified, giving you peace of mind you’ll be in good hands.

"There's no single more powerful or simpler daily practice to further your health and well being than Breathwork."

Andrew Weil

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