Inhaling the Truth: Why Is Breathwork Important and Powerful?

May 3, 2024
Inhaling the Truth Why Is Breathwork Important and Powerful


Harnessing the Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Rewards of Breathwork

Breathing is an essential part of our lives. From the moment we’re born, it connects us with the rest of the world, linking our lives with the physical world and lifeforms around us

You may notice that certain emotional and mental states cause you to breathe differently. Breathing is a physiological function directly connected to how we feel, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.

But why is breathwork so important and powerful, and how can we use breathwork to enhance our overall welfare and state of being?

Let’s explore why breathwork is important, how it affects our overall state, and several breathwork techniques you can practice to enhance your inner awareness and well-being.

Table of Contents

What Is Breathwork?
Why Breathwork Is Important/Powerful
Different Types of Breathwork
Discover the Power of Breathwork With Brain & Body Yoga and Tai Chi

What Is Breathwork?

Breathwork is the practice of conscious, controlled breathing that is used to therapeutically manipulate a person’s emotional, mental, and/or physical state.

For thousands of years, breathwork has been used in various cultures and traditions as a means to facilitate spiritual awakening, relaxation, and self-healing. It was not until the 1970s that breathwork gained widespread acceptance as a clinical modality used in healthcare settings for potential stress management and well-being.

Breathwork is a safe, practical, and beneficial self-care practice that can be done anywhere and anytime.

Why Breathwork Is Important/Powerful

One reason breathwork is important is that, unlike other automatic processes, breathing can be controlled both voluntarily (a somatic process) and involuntarily (an autonomic process).

Breathing is said to be closely linked to the circulation of vital energy (called Qi in Chinese and Ki in Korean). According to a variety of ancient spiritual traditions, mind-body practices like Qigong (energy practices) and Tai Chi (the natural balance of life energy) utilize breathwork to help circulate vital life energy throughout meridian channels. This circulation of Qi is used to promote balance, connectedness, and overall well-being.

By managing your breath, you may positively influence your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual state of being.

The Importance of Breathwork for Mental and Emotional Health

Have you ever been so upset that you can’t catch your breath?

Emotions like sadness, anger, and anxiety, along with acute stress, can cause our breathing to become rapid, shallow, and short. When you react like this to a negative emotion, changes in your breathing patterns may exacerbate your negative feelings.

Research suggests that breathwork can help to reduce and improve symptoms of diagnostically:

• Anxiety
• Depression
• Trauma
• Addiction
• Obsessions
• Compulsions, and
• Stress.

The Importance of Breathwork for Physical Health

Breathwork exercises are intended to support breathing, and breathing directly impacts other autonomic actions like heart rate and blood pressure.

When you are stressed, you produce short, quick breaths that release stress hormones like cortisol and increase the amount of carbon dioxide in your blood. In response, your brain tells your heart to increase your heart rate, which also increases blood pressure.

Over time, these physiological effects of stress can cause health issues like heart disease. By using breathwork to normalize breathing, you can reduce the negative physical effects of stress.

Research has shown that breathwork also has other physical health benefits, such as:

Anti-inflammatory response: Deep breathwork can stimulate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a collection of cranial nerves that run from your brain to your large intestine, and it is important in regulating inflammation. By slowing your respiration, you can induce a state of rest in the vagus nerve, thereby reducing inflammation.
• Improved digestion: The vagus nerve also aids digestion by stimulating smooth muscle contractions and glandular secretions. Breathwork can stimulate your vagus nerve, which may assist digestion.

The Importance of Breathwork for Spiritual Health

According to many traditions, deep breathing is important for developing spiritual health.

Spiritual health refers to the existential and inner connection between a person, others, the world, and the meaning and purpose of life. Practicing mindfulness through breathwork can create a powerful space for self-exploration and spiritual awakening.

As mentioned earlier, in Eastern traditions, breathwork is thought to circulate Qi. In ancient spiritual practices, Qi is believed to be the life energy that flows, connects all things in the universe, and sustains our internal wellness. In Tai Chi and Qigong practices, coordinated breath control is intended to cultivate, circulate, and balance Qi.

Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi instructors can show you how to utilize breathwork and the principles of Tai Chi and Qigong to access the spiritual benefits of mindful breathing. Our classes are designed to open the body's energy flow to promote overall spiritual, mental, and physical well-being.

We offer online and in-person introductory sessions conducted by trained professionals to help you devise a plan to achieve your goals.

Start your journey today with a 50-minute introductory session that will teach you how to check your current energy condition and introduce you to our exercises and programs.

Different Types of Breathwork

Not all breathwork is created equal, nor is all breathwork right for every person. Some types of breathwork may not work for you or others.

You should always consult a healthcare professional before attempting any new exercise. If you have a medical condition such as asthma, other respiratory issues, or cardiovascular problems, it is even more important that you consult a healthcare professional before attempting breathwork.

Here are three breathwork exercises you may experience in Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi classes:

Chest Breathing

Chest breathing is an easy-to-learn exercise that will help you purposefully engage your respiration to relax and release negative feelings.

Here is a chest breathing exercise for you to try, especially helpful after finishing a more active physical exercise session:

• Lie on a mat on your back, arms extended 45 degrees downward away from your body, palms facing up, and eyes closed. Relax your hands and feet. Let your mouth relax and open slightly. Breathe in comfortably through your nose and breathe out through your mouth.
• As you breathe and feel your chest expand, scan your body for tension from top to bottom. Start with the muscles in your face and move down to your neck, shoulders, back, arms, and legs. Imagine breathing it out through your fingers and toes when you find tension.
• Notice your body settling into a deeper state of relaxation as your breathing calms and deepens. If your mind is wandering, focus on the length of your breath, counting slowly in and out, gradually creating smoother and slower breaths.

Dahn-jon Abdominal Breathing

Dahn-jon abdominal breathing is a Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi technique that uses deep breathing and slow inhalation to bring energy downward from the head and increase the concentration of energy in the lower abdomen.

In Korean tradition, your body has three Dahn-jons (energy centers: upper, middle, and lower Dahn-jons). Physical and energetic power in the lower Dahn-jon is believed to provide a foundation for good health and a clear, calm mind.

Dahn-jon breathing is an exercise you can incorporate into your daily routine and use before or after other energy-balancing exercises, such as Dahn-jon body tapping.

Here’s how to perform Dahn-jon abdominal breathing:

1. Sit in a comfortable place with your spine straight, place your palms on your lower abdomen, and relax your chest and shoulders. (You can also practice Dahn-jon breathing lying down.)
2. For one minute, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth comfortably without any extra effort to breathe deeply. Pay attention and notice each breath.
3. After 1 minute, begin to breathe more slowly in and out through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand slightly like a balloon. You should start to feel a gentle pressure in your lower abdomen.
4. Continue the Dahn-Jon breathing process for 1 to 3 minutes. You don’t have to breathe forcefully to get the benefits. Easy and focused breathing will be enough.

Dahn-jon breathing can also be practiced lying down on a mat, with feet on the mat or legs crossed below you and palms on the lower abdomen.

3-3-3 Breathing

Another kind of breathing exercise you may find helpful is “3-3-3 Breathing,” also called “Box breathing.”

Research shows that structured breathwork like Box breathing is highly effective in increasing positive mood and reducing feelings of stress in a short period of time, within 3-5 minutes. Box breathing has been used in the U.S. military as a way to quickly switch from a “fight-or-flight” alert state to a calm state, activating the parasympathetic nervous system so the body can relax and recover.

Try this 3-3-3 breathing exercise whenever you need a de-stressing break, at home or work, indoors or outdoors:

1. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down on a mat. Close your eyes.
2. Once ready, inhale through your nose to the count of 3, imagining drawing in healing energy.
3. Hold your breath for three counts.
4. Exhale through your mouth to the count of 3, imagining letting go of anything negative.
5. Hold your breath for three counts.
6. Continue breathing in for three counts, holding for three counts, breathing out for three counts, and holding for three counts.

Repeat this exercise for at least 3 minutes, or longer if you feel like it.

Discover the Power of Breathwork With Brain & Body Yoga and Tai Chi

Now that you have a clearer understanding of why breathwork is important, are you ready to practice breathwork to upgrade your well-being?

A Brain Body Yoga and Tai Chi instructor near you can introduce you to holistic fitness and wellness classes in person and online. Each class is tailored to help you enhance your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being using a blend of yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, and breathwork.

We believe the body, mind, and spirit are deeply connected.

Mindful physical exercise can promote and strengthen your mind-body connection. With expert guidance, you can find the self-care routines you need to balance your energy and achieve a sense of inner calm.

Join us as you embark on a journey using the power of breathwork, exercise, and mindfulness.