2020 has quickly become the year of all things breath related, from Covid-19’s attack on our lungs and needing to breath through a mask, to the Black Lives Matter slogan #ICantBreathe, from the last words of Eric Garner, to the book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. We no longer can take our breath for granted. The truth is, we should never have taken our breath for granted.
Our breath is the gatekeeper of our health, a barometer of our freedom and equality, and our most powerful, direct and universal path to transformation. That’s right, if you want to unlock your full human potential, you’ll want to start a breathwork practice.
In an ideal world where we could have more freetime on our hands, we would meditate and do breathwork daily to help cope with life, but let’s be realistic —we’re lucky if we have time for one of these mindfulness practices. Whether you’re considering switching or you’re new to both practices and trying to focus on one, we’re here to tell you why you should consider breathwork over meditation.
First off, let’s start with a definition of breathwork by Dan Brulé, one of the foremost breath experts and teachers of the last 30 years. In his book Just Breath: Mastering Breathwork, Brulé states: “Breathwork is the use of the Breath Awareness and Conscious Breathing for healing and growth, personal awakening, and transformation in spirit, mind and body.”
It is in the awareness of the breath and the ability to consciously control your breath that a practice of breathwork begins. These practices are anything but new, in fact, most derive from thousands of years ago but like many ancient healing practices, they were mostly forgotten until recently.
Breathwork is a type of Pranayama, the Sanskrit word for prana (energy or life force) and yama (control, draw outing or extending), originating from India. There are hundreds of different breath techniques that we can utilize, from Holotropic Breathwork, Box Breathing, Rebirthing, Circular Breathing, Breath Control and a Pranayama Two Part Breath. But now, let’s get back to why we’ve fallen in love with Breathwork.
1. Breathwork is just much more fun than its cousin meditation.
When we think of meditation, we think of sitting in silence, often uncomfortably, trying to just be aware of whatever is present for us. We have never heard a layman describe the practice of meditation as fun, because sitting still with your thoughts is just, generally speaking, not very exciting. On the other hand, the Two Part Breathwork is dynamic, music driven, exciting, and energizing. Oh, and we cannot forget to mention, you get to lie down, which is more comfortable than sitting up for a specific period of time. You choose, do you want to drive a Ferrari or a station wagon? Yes, they both work and will get you where you want to go, but the Ferrari is just way more fun. And guess what, if something is enjoyable and enthralling, you’re more likely to stick with the practice and do it again!
2. The effects are immediate — you don’t have to spend months or years wondering if you’re doing it right.
This is one of the major complaints with meditation…most people don’t know if they’re doing it right and experiencing any immediate benefits at all. Really though, , how can you tell when you’re silently sitting and solely focused on the mind? It’s hard to stay motivated if you don’t know if you’re doing something right. With the Two Part Breathwork, you will immediately feel your body and mind respond…it’s undeniable that you feel radically different. Through this acknowledgement that you’re doing the practice correctly, your mind and body will start a positive feedback loop that says, “Hey, you’re doing this right and it’s working.” This is why breathwork builds immediate confidence and excitement with each practice.
3. The health benefits are off the charts – and we’re talking physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Breath is the missing link to optimal health. How we breathe directly affects our physical and emotional health. James Nestor states that “There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing. Changing our breathing can reduce blood pressure, boost athletic performance, balance the nervous system, rejuvenate internal organs and even halt autoimmune diseases.” The fastest way to building a better, stronger health foundation is to start a breathwork practice. By flooding your body and brain with oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, you’re alkalizing your body and giving your mind a chance to move into a state of deep relaxation. It’s one of the fastest ways to reduce anxiety, stress,and the build up of feelings that can overwhelm and cause burn out.[Image]
4. It can create a similar experience to that of plant medicine and psychedelics, without the legal and health risks.
Yes, you heard that right. Breathwork has been studied by renowned psychiatrist Dr. Stanislov Graf for over 50 years for its ability to offer a similar psychedelic experience to that of LSD and more recently mushrooms. While we think the work being done in the psychedelic assisted therapy space is incredible and so critically important, it’s still not readily available to most people and it’s hard to find a clinical trial to enroll in. But an hour of breathwork from the comfort of your bedroom is realistic and accessible to everyone. And guess what? The experience can feel quite similar without the risks associated with plant medicine and psychedelics.
5. You’ll feel a huge amount of love — for yourself, others, and even the world. Yes, it might sound wild, but it’s true.
We can all agree that it’s often hard to show up every day beaming love to our partners, our children, our coworkers, and the strangers we meet. And what about ourselves? For many of us, sending self-love to ourselves can be one of the hardest things to do.. That inner critic deep inside can be so cruel, so doubting, and unforgiving. Breathwork offers us direct access to the frequency of love, the highest frequency of all. You don’t have to do anything other than breath and this deep feeling of love,self-love, can spontaneously start to happen through as we flood our body and brain with oxygen, releasing carbon dioxide and allowing our body and mind to move into a deep relaxation state.
6. Each session is radically different than the next…we promise you won’t get bored.
Let’s be honest, meditation can feel like nothing is happening and that can be really challenging. Breathwork,on the other hand, creates an experience that is radically different each time. Joining a breathwork class is like stepping onto a rollercoaster — you don’t know the twists and turns the class will take and all you can expect is the unexpected. Buckle up because you’re going to be in for quite a magical ride.
7. Breathwork strengthens the lungs and boosts immunity.
Whether you’ve had Covid-19 and need to rebuild lung strength or you’re wanting to boost your immunity and strengthen your lungs, breathwork is a powerful solution. A daily breathwork practice is going to do wonders, and now more than ever, taking care of ourselves should be a non-negotiable part of each day. While meditation also works to boost your immune system, the results aren’t as powerful (mostly because it’s a mental activity while breathwork is a physical activity) and it doesn’t work to strengthen the lungs. So for that reason alone, breathwork is the antidote you need to work towards your health goals.[Image]
8. Calm your nervous system and do it FAST.
Most people are chronic shallow breathers…keeping them in fight or flight mode…relearning to breath can absolutely change your life. By taking long slow deep breaths we can quickly bring our nervous system out of fight or flight (the sympathetic nervous system) and into rest and digest, the parasympathetic nervous system.
9. Breathwork gives us energy and clarity on demand.
Yes, you can reach for a cup of cold brew. But too much coffee can tax your adrenals and negatively impact your sleep patterns, whereas breathwork gives you energy and actually helps you sleep better! Breathwork simultaneously gives your body a much needed sense of rest and calm while bringing a huge amount of energy into your system. Let’s light up those 70 trillion cells in our body on demand and unlock our highest potential.
10. Breath connects us to spirit, to source, to our higher self, to the Divine.
According to Brulé, the world’s foremost expert and renowned pioneer in the field of breathwork, “Breathing is the link between body and mind, between spirit and matter, between the conscious and the subconscious mind. The breath is a force, a bridge, a tool. It connects us to each other, and to our own nature, our source.”
While both meditation and breathwork offer a spiritual path, breathwork’s connection to source energy is usually experienced within one session, while meditation can often take months to feel that deeper connection to source. Again, it’s this immediate positive feedback loop that makes breathwork so desirable.