Updated: Mar 23
Our breath is a very important part of managing our response to daily stressors. How many times have you been told to slow down and take a deep breath when stressed out or nervous? Close your eyes and take a deep breath in, slowly releasing it—and tell me you don’t already feel some sense of relief, even if just a little bit.
Learning the connection between the breath and natural response to stress can help with addressing ongoing anxiety. Read on for more insights on the breath, breathwork techniques, and how you can get started on practicing breathwork to relieve stress and anxiety.
What is breathwork?
Breathwork refers to a variety of techniques focused on controlling the breath to improve overall health and well-being. The concept is that the intentional adjustment of your breath can help bring your mind and body back into balance. As a matter of fact, the conscious use of breath to promote healing has been practiced since before 2700 B.C.E. in China and India.
What is the point of breathwork?
Feelings of fear, discomfort, and worry causes you to naturally start taking shallow deep breaths.This action sends danger signals to your brain, triggering your fight-or-flight response. It is this response, which often continues unchecked, that can cause feelings of stress and overwhelm. Breathwork is used to control the breath to help prevent or reverse this response.
Using breathwork for anxiety: Can it help?
Anxiety has been linked to the “fight-or-flight” response. And while this trait was important in saving our ancestors from certain death and disaster, it is a pretty extreme response to modern discomforts and inconveniences. The use of breathwork is one way to manage our stress response, and has been shown to help reduce anxiety.
By understanding this powerful connection between our breath and nervous system, you can learn to breath with control and intention. Properly managing your breathing can help derail the typical stress response, allowing you to maintain a state of calmness and relaxation.
What are some breathwork techniques?
There are various breathwork meditation techniques you can use to learn how to control your breath for improved health. Some examples of breathing techniques include coherent breathing, deep abdominal breathing, and holotropic breathwork.
Coherent breathing. Coherent breathing is one of the simplest breathwork techniques. With coherent breathing, you’ll need to take about five deep breaths per minute. To achieve this, all you need to do is inhale and count to 5, then exhale and count to 5, repeating this pattern for a few minutes.
Deep abdominal breathing. The focus of the deep abdominal breathing technique is to help you get more fresh air into your lungs. While either standing up or sitting down, you’ll pull back your shoulders and inhale deeply through your nose. After holding your breath for a count of 5, you would slowly exhale, releasing your breath through your nose.
Holotropic breathing. Holotropic breathwork is often led by a facilitator who gives the other person directions to achieve an even and rapid breathing pattern. The goal of this technique is to help participants reach spiritual awakening. People who practice holotropic breathing have reported achieving enlightenment and increased self-awareness.
How do I get started with breathwork?
Breathwork is an all-natural technique. You don’t even need to purchase any equipment to start practicing it. All you need is just a few minutes a day to focus on learning at least one or two techniques.
You can start by trying out a simpler technique, such as coherent breathing, starting out at perhaps 2 to 5 minutes. You can practice several times a day, or even schedule notifications for your practice as often as you think would make sense for you. Over time, you can continue to extend your breathwork practice.
To get your breathwork practice up and running, you can also consider reaching out to an expert for guidance, especially if you want to practice more intense techniques such as holotropic breathwork. Our Ollovus app is a great place to start looking for a breathwork expert to help guide you on your breathing practice, whether you prefer in-person or virtual sessions.
A breathing practice is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce anxiety. Consistently practicing intentional breathing can help you learn how to properly manage your response to everyday stressors.
Do you plan on adding breathwork into your health and wellness practice? Comment below and let us know!