Breathing. It’s critical to our survival, but we often do it without thinking. From before we are even born to when we take our last breath, it is what keeps us alive (or some machines can do it for us).
That’s not the breath I’m talking about here. Breathwork is something completely different. Specifically, the Breathwork practice offered at Michigan Massage and Wellness, specifically the 3-part Conscious Circular Breathwork that Rebecca is trained in.
The breaths that we take in this style of circular breathing are wildly different from our everyday small, quiet, shallow breaths that we do on autopilot. This breathwork style is an INTENTIONAL practice to create physiological and emotional changes, such as alkalizing the pH of your blood (deeper, more rapid breaths mean you are taking more oxygen in on the inhale and expelling more CO2 on the exhale. It can also (temporarily) increase muscle tone due to an increase in firing in the sensory and motor neurons, putting the body into a low-term calcium state that presents as tingling sensations, smooth muscle contractions, and increased muscle tone. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect. A 2014 Yale School of Medicine study found that subjects taught a breathwork routine had less severe inflammatory responses after exposure to IV bacterial toxins than those who didn’t.
In a nutshell, Breathwork may elicit some physical, mental and emotional changes such as:
- An overall sense of ‘lightness’
- Emotional healing
- Greater clarity
- Feeling calmer, grounded and centered
- A deeper sense of connection to oneself
- Lower stress and anxiety levels
- Reduction in muscle tension
- Increased energy
- Greater ability to let go of negative/stressful thoughts and emotions when they appear.
Regarding health conditions and concerns, Breathwork has been shown to heal at the deepest levels but often sets off this chain reaction of healing that goes beyond the surface. Problems and conditions like:
- Unresolved grief and loss
- Panic attacks
- Chronic stress
- Low self-esteem/self-worth
- General unhappiness or feelings of not being able to move forward
- Feelings of being stuck in the past, ruminating
What to Expect During a Breathwork Session
There are several mental, physical and emotional effects of Breathwork, and it may be scary for some people. Preparation and understanding are essential here. Some people may experience physical sensations such as tingling, vibrating, feeling hot or cold, shivering or sweating, or tetany (lobster claw hands, where your hands cramp up). This is because of the increased respiration rate and always remember that the effects are always temporary.
On the mental and emotional side of the session, you may have tears; you may yell out in anger or frustration; you might have nervous/anxious energy that you can get out by kicking/punching the air or shaking your arms and legs. And the mental effect is one I always urge students to focus on the least. Our brain is always in control and running the show, and when we are put in uncomfortable situations, such as one where we’re breathing in this new and different way, the brain will try and take over. I like to tell my brain, “shut the F up, take a break; this is my time.” Our brain has its way of doing things, but we are working to change that brain and the tricks it plays on us- the stories it tells us and the behaviors it engages in (both good and bad). Using the breath is a way to shift your thoughts from your head to your heart and open yourself to a new and better life.
Personally, what I have experienced with my breathwork practice is feeling calmer and generally a better disposition. I’m able to let go of things more quickly than I used to, and doing it first thing in the morning has helped me get the day started on the right foot with more motivation and more productivity.
As an added benefit and offering in-person 1:1 sessions, virtual sessions via Zoom are available. And there’s no discernable difference between an in-person or virtual session, except I’ve found that people can sometimes let go and go a little deeper in a virtual session as it removes some of the vulnerability of crying or yelling in front of someone in person.
If you’ve been stuck with the same old stories you’ve been telling yourself, need clarity on a big decision, or want to add another tool to your self-care toolbox, we would love the opportunity to help you get there. Reach out to us, and let’s help you breathe better!