Why does breathwork matter in our modern world?
- It is all too common for us to accept living in dis-ease. Adverse childhood experiences, trauma and stressful life experiences impact our energy levels, ambition, focus, memory, mood, mental and physical health (1-2). Our emotional reactions are dictated more by our physiological state than the external circumstance. They also have an impact beyond our lifetime, affecting generations (1-3). PLUS, being triggered left, right and centre feels uncomfortable, like we are out of our own ‘control’ (response – ability), and typically inhibits our sense of connection, wellbeing and peace.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) called depression the global leading cause of disease in 2018. WorkSafe BC has now acknowledged PTSD and other mental health disorders as viable claims.
- Underlying all this ^^: we are not connected inward. We haven’t practiced or been given opportunity to understand cues from the body, the information our emotional and triggered reactions are providing, and the influence our thoughts and mindset have on satisfaction and experience of life.
I already know how to breathe, how does breathwork help?
We activate the sympathetic branch, a stress response, allowing old stress or trauma to be brought to the surface, expressed and completed. With that released, we move into a deep state of rest, activating the parasympathetic branch, giving our body time to integrate and rewire neural patterns. In each session, we are training (reminding) our nervous system to effectively self-regulate, moving through and releasing, rather than getting stuck in a stress or trauma response. The more we practice this through breathwork, the more entrained it is in our nervous system and will happen spontaneously in our daily lives.
Experientially that often looks like:
- Becoming consciously aware of our full capacity (creativity, feeling each emotional wave, to release, etc.)
- Altering neural activity making it easier to reset subconscious beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world
- Integrating trauma & stress from the past in order to be and feel present and at ease
- Consciously engaging the parasympathetic nervous system ( rest, digest, restore, repair), especially important in our fast-paced world to complete critical biological processes
What do we LOVE about this approach?
It’s breathing. Our bodies have more capacity to heal than we, in the global north, give credit to or know how to tap into. Yet we have it literally under our noses.
Everyone breathes an average of 23,000 times per day. Not only is it free to breathe, but we have access to it every moment that we are alive, even when we sleep.
While pharmaceuticals can provide support through our process, we don’t know the side-effects of staying on these synthetic drugs long term. Depression and anxiety are being diagnosed at younger and younger ages, and pills are being prescribed during foundational stages of nervous system development, without fully understanding the potential consequences. And yet… everyone breathes. We know the basic consequences of breathing.
Furthermore, pharmaceuticals are bandaids and tourniquets that do not address the root problem, but alleviate some symptoms (offering relief that is necessary for many!!). With breathwork and other somatic therapies, we can alter our physiological state (activity and communication within the physical body) that are causing said symptoms. We work with the body’s natural design instead of introducing external substances.
1) Cooney, C. A. (2007). Epigenetics–DNA-based mirror of our environment?. Disease Markers, 23(1, 2), 121-137.
2) Slavich, G. M., & Irwin, M. R. (2014). From stress to inflammation and major depressive disorder: a social signal transduction theory of depression. Psychological bulletin, 140(3), 774.
3) Pembrey, M. E., Bygren, L. O., Kaati, G., Edvinsson, S., Northstone, K., Sjöström, M., & Golding, J. (2006). Sex-specific, male-line transgenerational responses in humans. European journal of human genetics, 14(2), 159-166.)