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What Are the Benefits of Breathwork?

Updated: Jun 4

“Nine out of ten of the top killers such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke are caused by the food we eat, the water we drink, houses we live in, and offices we work in. These diseases are humanity created.


Breathing is a key input. 30 pounds of air passes through our lungs every day, and the 1.7 pounds of oxygen our cells consume is as important as the food we eat or how much we exercise.” James Nestor, Breath


We are never taught how to breathe correctly. 


Breathing is a function of the autonomic nervous system, and while it keeps us alive, we barely ever think about the fact we’re doing it. 

benefits of breathwork

The quality of our breath has such a profound impact on our well-being and how we show up in our daily lives. But somehow, it just seems to be something we forget to consider…


Check in with how you are feeling right now as you read this article. 


Take a few slow, deep breaths. Watch as your heartbeat slows down and you feel a deeper sense of calm. It really is that simple. 


In this post, we’ll highlight some of the benefits of breathwork or Pranayama (Sanskrit name for breathwork) and some simple techniques you can practice to breathe better. 


Enjoy.


Why should we practice conscious breathing & what are the benefits of breathwork?

how to do pranayama

Conscious breathing teaches us to be the pilots of our autonomic nervous system. 


Taking a few moments to breathe consciously daily can help you balance your body’s chemistry, regulate your emotions, and cultivate a sense of release. 


Breathwork allows us to:


  • Stretch and strengthen our lungs

  • Lengthen, stretch, and straighten our bodies

  • Boost blood flow

  • Balance our minds and moods

  • Excite the electrons in our cells 

  • Release trauma

  • Sleep better 

  • Run faster 

  • Live longer

  • Retain balance in the body 


Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi said, “More than 60 years of research on living systems has convinced me that our body is much more nearly perfect than the endless list of ailments suggests.


When we use our bodies the way they were designed to be used, everything works in alignment. 


But, somehow, our busy, modern lifestyles ran away with us, and we forgot to check in with ourselves and how to complete essential functions like breathing. 


5 Key pillars for breathing better

benefits of pranayama

If you want to analyse how you’re breathing, think about adapting some of the following principles: 


1. Close your mouth! 


These days, too many of us mouth breathe, and it’s the route of numerous health issues. When you breathe through your mouth, it stimulates the stress hormone. 


So try not to mouth breathe! Catch yourself when you’re grunting from the mouth and switch to nose breathing! 


2. Exhale fully 


When was the last time you fully exhaled all the air from your lungs? We rarely practice full, long, deep exhalations, but when you exhale fully, you get more by doing less. 


Using the full capacity of your lungs helps you strengthen them and use them with full efficiency. 


3. Try not to over breathe

 

When you take short, shallow breaths, you feed the body with too much air and can cause it to stress your lungs. Try deep, longer, slower breaths. 


4. Breathe through the nose


When you breathe through the nose, you take better-quality breaths and are less likely to take short, sharp gasps of air. This can help calm your nervous system and destress the body.


Breathing through your nose decreases your blood pressure and boosts the CO2 in your blood. Great if you’re looking for a little boost in your workout performance!


5.  Regularly practice different breathing techniques 


Traditional breathwork or Pranayama techniques like Kriya, and Tummo stress the body on purpose, snapping it out of its funk. 


When you practice breathwork techniques regularly, your body can function properly for the rest of the day without you even having to think about it. 


5 Easy breathwork practices to try


1. Simple and easy 


  • Inhale for 5, exhale for 5

  • Keep the inhale and the exhale even 

  • Practice for 12 rounds. 


Benefits: This is said to be the ‘perfect’ breath length and is a simple way to help regulate your heart rate and nervous system. 


2. Sighing it all out  


  • Inhale deeply through your nose

  • Hold your breath for a few seconds

  • Sigh out the breath through your mouth


Benefits: Releases tension, stress, and anxiety from the body. 


3. Diaphragmatic breathing 


  • Put one hand on your belly and one on your chest

  • Inhale through the nose for 4 seconds all the way to the bottom of your lungs

  • Hold your breath for 2 seconds

  •  Exhale through the mouth for 6 seconds


Benefits: It helps you practice using your lungs' full capacity which in turn strengthens them. It also helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure. 


4. Alternate nostril breathing 


  • Close your right nostril with the right thumb

  • Inhale through the left nostril for 3 seconds

  • Hold for 3 seconds 


  • Close the left nostril with your ring finger

  • Exhale through the right nostril for 6 seconds 

  • With the left nostril still closed, inhale through right nostril for 3 seconds 

  • Hold for 3 seconds 

  • Close the right nostril with your thumb

  • Exhale through the left nostril for 6 seconds 


Try repeating for 4-6 rounds


Benefits: Can help relax the mind and help you sleep.


5. 4-4-8 breathing


  • Inhale through the nose for 4 seconds 

  • Hold 4 seconds 

  • Exhale through the mouth for 8 seconds


Benefits: Activates your parasympathetic nervous system and helps calm down your body’s stress response. 


It only takes 5 minutes! 


When we think about cultivating a breathwork/Pranayama practice it can seem a little overwhelming. You might be wondering…do I need to practice breathwork for 20 minutes a day? Or how often should I practice breathwork to see the benefits? 


The simple answer is, you can do any of these exercises in less than 5 minutes, the most important thing is consistency. Just 5 minutes a day to take the time to focus in on your breath will make the world of difference. Promise! 


What are you waiting for? Now you know all about the benefits of breathwork and Pranayama, it’s time to start practicing. 


Want some support on your breathwork journey? Join us at our breathing workshop in Freiburg, Germany from 14-17th June


breathwork retreat Germany

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