Wellness for Whole Body Health
By Jamie Costello
Breathwork is the action of inhaling deeply, holding it and exhaling with an extended force. This is completely different to your everyday form of breathing. This is because general breathing is something that we do everyday without even noticing. Breathwork is a practice that intentionally manipulates the breathing process. Whilst it’s a practice that is commonly used in meditation and yoga, research conducted in the past has also suggested that breathwork can have major benefits for the mind and body.
In recent years, ‘breathwork’ has increased in popularity for searches within Google. This is due to the noticeable differences that are believed within the practice, making a positive effect on wellbeing and mindfulness in particular. There are a variety of classes and workshops that incorporate breathwork, providing a wide range of options for trainers.
With this being the case, there are several cases where breathwork is considered highly beneficial for the mind and body. Here are 5 benefits to the practice of breathwork.
Research has heavily suggested that breathing practices can have a beneficial impact on depression. A study conducted in 2017 suggested that trainers who engaged with 20 breathwork training sessions were shown to have decreased levels of stress compared to those who did not engage with the sessions. In particular, the levels of Cortisol in the people were seen to be less. This is a stress hormone found in the body. If we are seen to have high levels of this in our system, it can cause chronic inflammation.
Decrease Blood Pressure
A study that was conducted in 2015 appeared to find that breathwork was beneficial in decreasing blood pressure. Patients with hypertension in their system had lowered their blood pressure over time when they tried breathwork exercises. This is because breathwork trains us to breathe slower and deeper which can help to decrease anxiety levels in the body. As a result, blood pressure levels lower in the body.
Reducing Symptoms of Depression
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania began a study around the links between breathing-based meditation and depression. The results found that if people responded negatively to antidepressant medication, an alternative method that could be used to help ease severe depression.
How meditation can benefit the body can be partly down to the impact is on the amygdala. This is a part of the brain which detects fear and automatically triggers a response in the body to either deal with the situation at hand, or to run away to safety. Meditative breathing is known to decrease the size of amygdala, calming the body’s response to frightening situations.
If you’re struggling paying attention and trying to keep your focus, breathwork is known to improve this. In 2018, a study was published around the topic of consciousness and cognition. It found that when participants participated in yoga that focused on breathing, increased their attention span. This is because breathing can help to balance out the natural chemical noradrenaline which affects certain emotions and attention found in the mind.
Facilitate Pain Management
In recent years, doctors and medical practices have been trying to find alternative methods to prescribing medication to patients. This is due to increased side effects found in patients, suggesting patients are becoming too sensitive towards subscribed medicine.
Thankfully, there has been several studies conducted where breathwork has been found to be a good alternative for aiding patients dealing with physical discomfort. By managing cortisol levels produced in the body and decreasing inflammation through slow and deep breathing, pain levels can decrease. Literature produced in 2017 indicated that breathing exercises were tested on athletes and trainers that suffered with back pain.
With the recent growth in concern for wellbeing and mental health, there has been extensive research to introduce simple ways to improve self-care. The studies suggested in the article have found that there can be great benefits to using breathwork as a form of self care. Most important of all is that it’s a convenient method that can be practiced practically anywhere, at any time.
Jamie Costello is a Healthcare Assistant based in the UK. His previous experience comes from education where he’s gained a Health and Social Care NVQ and also gained work experience in several businesses, including UK Aesthetic who specialises in cosmetic surgery.