There are many different training programs and therapies for different sports and physical activities, but one common element in all of them is breathing. Because breathing and breath control are very important to sports and our daily lives, it’s no surprise that breathwork training has gained widespread popularity as a versatile and beneficial modality.
Breathwork training is a type of exercise that focuses on consciously manipulating your breathing rate, and depth, so you may become more aware of it and can gain the benefits. A good similarity to breathwork training is meditation.
Despite the increasing recognition and utilization of breathwork training, it remains relatively unknown when compared to other forms of physical training. Most people do not have a comprehensive understanding of the advantages associated with breathwork or are skeptical about them. Because of that, the rest of this article will further explain what breathwork training is and will also talk about its benefits and validity.
What Is Breathwork Training?
The unique thing about breathwork training is that it focuses on an element of our body that everyone requires: breathing. Other types of physical therapy may ask you to perform something that you’ve never or rarely done before, or it will be something uncomfortable in some capacity in order to build strength and/or resistance. When you compare breathwork training to other mainstream training, it may seem confusing to determine what breathwork training actually is.
As we just discussed, breathwork training involves practicing and controlling how you breathe, and the important thing you need to keep in mind is that the training requires conscious manipulation. The breathing you perform through this type of training is direct and planned, so there are different techniques that you could do depending on the situation.
In many cases, breathwork training is done to gain benefits for the participant at the time of the training and whenever they repeat it, but what ends up happening is that participants begin to make a habit of these breathing techniques. They start to incorporate them into their daily lives without actually having to think about it, leading to an overall healthier breath.
To give you a deeper idea of what breathwork training is, here are three common types of breathwork:
- Holotropic Breathwork
- Rebirthing breathwork
- Clarity breathwork
Holotropic Breathwork® is a technique that’s meant to help individuals with their emotional issues and personal state-of-mind. What makes this technique unique is that it’s usually done with a group of people where one certified breathwork facilitator leads the session. Even when the physical breathwork training is over, they will often ask the group to reflect and discuss their experience of breathwork training with the other people in the group.
When it comes to the actual breathwork training, this technique will guide participants to breathe at a relatively fast rate for a certain amount of time to enter different levels of consciousness. Music is also incorporated into these sessions to help with the breathwork pace.
Rebirthing breathwork is a self-healing technique meant to deal with built-up, internal emotions that the participant hasn’t fully gotten over. This technique is recommended to be done under the supervision of a certified breathwork facilitator, and it uses a breathing exercise known as circular breathing. This type of breathing is where your breaths are continuous without any noticeable pauses or spaces between them.
The ultimate goal of rebirthing breathwork is to allow the participant to find peace with their inner emotions, and in many cases, people will release their pent-up emotions due to their subconscious feelings and thoughts. After dealing with past emotional traumas, this technique is said to bring about a higher level of consciousness.
This breathwork technique is very similar to the rebirthing technique, in they both use circular breathing. However, clarity breathwork is not meant to deal with past emotional trauma. It’s meant more for making the participant become more aware of their present emotional state.
Before you join a clarity breathwork session, it’s wise to set up an appointment with your breathwork facilitator and discuss what you want to achieve in your training session. Also, once the session ends, the participant should have dedicated time to share their experience.
Those were three main breathwork modalities, but there are plenty more approaches. In addition to those broad techniques, breathwork training will usually incorporate individual breathing exercises, which include:
- Box breathing
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Alternate nostril breathing
Is There Really a Proper Way of Breathing?
Now that you have a greater understanding of what breathwork training is, you may still find yourself confused as to why it’s a dedicated type of training. Breathing is so natural and effortless, and we do it every day in order to live, but some people may believe that there’s no way to breathe improperly. However, it turns out that a lot of people breathe the wrong way. Breathwork training aims to promote more advantageous breathing, but we should first discuss the ways that people breathe incorrectly.
Now you may be thinking, “How could I breathe incorrectly? If I were, I would be dead.” And that’s true in some sense, but you have to realize that just because we breathe involuntarily, for the most part, that doesn’t mean we always breathe correctly, especially since we’re not usually aware of it.
The main issue that people experience when it comes to their breath is that they breathe through their chest, restricting the amount of oxygen coming into the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large muscle at the bottom of your rib cage that helps with breathing, and by breathing through your chest, you can cause shallow breaths.
Shallow breaths can result in not enough oxygen being supplied to your body, which can lead to hyperventilation and other issues. To check if you’re breathing with your diaphragm properly, place your hands at your sides above your waist, and make sure that your rib cage doesn’t lift up and out when you breathe. You should also be able to breathe while your shoulders are dropped down.
How to Practice Breathing
The main things you should focus on when trying to improve your breathing are:
- Slowing down your breath (the average is around 10 – 12 breaths per minute)
- Breathing through your diaphragm and not your chest
- Taking time to fully exhale
You should also know that when you practice breathwork, you want to ensure that you do it when you feel relatively calm. This will likely create better habits because proper breathing will naturally make you feel more relaxed and calm. Even if you don’t plan on directly training breathwork, you can definitely improve your general breathing habits by focusing simply on maintaining these small breathing tips.
(If you need more tips on breathwork, you’ll definitely want to check out breathwork training online!)
What Is The Purpose of Breathwork?
Whether you’re someone that simply wants to practice healthy breathing habits or you’re someone that needs direct physical or emotional therapy, breathwork training provides holistic benefits. You may be surprised at how beneficial breathwork training can be.
In general, breathwork training is meant to help the mind, body, and spirit collectively. Breathing heavily impacts your general well-being, and has been known to specifically aid in:
- Anger issues
- Emotional Issues and Depression
But we should take a look at how it can affect a person as a whole through the three main factors.
One can argue that breathing has the biggest impact on the body. That would make sense; breathing is a fundamental part of life that allows us to live by supplying oxygen to the body and releasing carbon dioxide out of the body. The physical effects of breathing are the most noticeable because they’re typically immediate.
For example, people will often take slow, deep breaths to calm themselves down. This works because breathing deeply activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which slows down your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, making you feel calm.
In contrast, situations where your breathing is sped up, your blood pressure and heart rate would increase, causing you to be in a state of high anxiety or alertness, often associated with “fight or flight”. You can see how much of an impact breathing has on just your body alone.
Studies have shown that breathwork training can also have just as big of an impact on your mental state. Some describe breathwork training as having the ability to allow someone to reach a deeper state of consciousness. As we’ve mentioned earlier, this would help someone to recover from repressed emotional traumas.
In general, breathwork training can help people with mental issues by calming them down and making them focus on their own mind.
Lastly, many people say that breathwork training can impact you on a spiritual level. By spiritual, people mean a realm beyond just your body and mind; they say that breathwork training can allow you to truly connect with yourself, and people have claimed they can have spiritual awakenings.
Is Breathwork Scientifically Proven?
Due to all of the effects and claimed benefits breathwork training provides, a lot of people are still skeptical about its validity, and they want to know if breathwork training actually works. To answer it shortly: yes.
Breathwork training has had various studies showing that its effects are legitimate and consistently repeatable, and it’s backed by scientific reasoning and logic.
When it comes to its physical effects on the body, breathwork training provides tangible benefits, and elements of breathwork training are seamlessly incorporated into other fields. Even if you don’t fully agree with the idea that it can spiritually connect you with the universe, breathwork training is still a legitimate therapy prescribed by professionals to help people deal with mental and emotional stress.
It’s reasonable to be skeptical of the process. For most people, breathwork training is said to provide so many benefits with essentially no negative drawbacks. However, dismissing it entirely just because of its seemingly-absurd nature can cause you to miss out on very practical and healthy techniques.
Breathwork training may now seem like a very powerful tool to you, and rightfully so. It can help you physically and mentally, and the actual process can be followed very easily when done under professional supervision. It should be noted that there are some risks for doing breathwork training if you have pre-existing issues such as heart and breathing problems, but if you’re not affected, the risk is so minimal it’s not even worth mentioning.
Just be aware that you should only perform advanced breathing techniques under supervision or after consultation with a certified breathwork coach. If you don’t have access to a breathwork facilitator, you can always practice the less advanced breathing exercises on your own to build healthy habits. If you decide to try breathwork training, you will definitely notice immediate effects.
If breathwork is of interest you, then maybe you should consider a career as a breathwork practitioner.