Have You Breathed Yet Today?
"Of course I freaking breathed Dayna." Uh uh wait a second... We are gonna take it to another level ladies. I'm going to share what I have learned in my journey through breathwork with you today. We are going to dive into breathing like goddesses. Tell everyone. Alert your friends.
Breathwork is a new-age, specialized practice under the umbrella of meditation. It is comprised of effortful, conscious breathing, focused on guiding the breath into certain areas of your body to positively influence you both mentally and physically. Many studies about the healing effects of breathing were conducted in the 1970s in reaction to the illegality and suppression of LSD usage in the 1960s. Scientists realized that chemicals similar to LSD could be naturally released by the brain, and could have a positive effect on physical and mental wellbeing in the same way controlled levels of psychedelic substances could. I mean I'm personally down for a healthy prescription of fresh air, like yeah?
I have gone to breathwork classes that last 2 hours. By the end we will have practiced "transformational" breathwork exercises like the above, rapid "holotropic" breathing, which releases your body's natural equivalent to a pyschedelic high and helps release built up emotions, and slow and soft meditative "zen" breathing to calm down. During these sessions, I have heard people cry, yell, and even laugh during their meditative state. I have personally experienced a strange vibrating sensation throughout my whole body, and have even had my hands clench into fists involuntarily for about 15 minutes. By the end I felt renewed as if my body went into overdrive mode in cell regeneration. Overall, I realized how amazingly cathartic (and weird) breathing can become and how it can grind out so much suppressed emotion in one sitting. After just one session, it can make you feel more confident, clear headed, and driven, as well as less anxious, foggy, stuck, and melancholy.
An easy introduction exercise is to place one hand on your stomach and the other on your heart. Step 1: breath deeply in through your nose and low into your lungs, so that your hand on your stomach rises up. Step 2: breath higher into your chest so the hand on your heart rises up. Hold and imagine the breath rising up into the crown of your head. Step 3: exhale through your mouth so the hand on your heart lowers back down. Step 4: exhale so the hand on your stomach lowers back down. Repeat 10 times. Stomach - Heart - Hold - Heart - Stomach. We will get into something similar in the guided session below.
This is one of my favorite at home how-to videos on How to Breathe by one of the masters, Erin Telford, as well as a little interview with her background, which I find super interesting:
If you can, I would highly recommend signing up for a breathwork class in your area. I know of two places that do them near me. The WOOM Center on Bowery in Manhattan and The Maha Rose Center for Healing in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. If you can't find any in your area, keep looking up how-to videos. I guarantee there are more than enough for you to gain a similarly high-quality breathing experience. Some good terms to look for in video descriptions are: breathwork meditation, holotropic breathing, circular breathing, and vivation.
I hope this peaks your interest in the world of alternative breathing methods. It has gotten me through some seemingly hopeless and difficult times, and on any average day has brought me inspiration and elation I didn't know could be had. I hope it does the same for you.