Physiological effects of doing breathwork

by | May 24, 2024

Breath is life. Every physiological, psychological, and emotional state has a breathing pattern that corresponds to the state you are in.

Today we will look at how breathwork affects the body.

A good way to start understanding the physical effects breathwork has on the body is to have a look at the autonomic nervous system, which regulates all the automatic functions of the body. The autonomic nervous system is the main regulator of our stress-response system.

Within the autonomic nervous system, there are two counterbalance parts, the sympathetic nervous system, and the parasympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous will get activated when we are under stress, or when we are enduring challenging times in life, or trying to avoid something that is harmful for us.

The parasympathetic nervous system comes online when the challenge or danger has passed, and it is time for the body to counteract all the effects of the “fight or flight” responses created in the body. The sympathetic nervous system makes the heart rate and respiratory system to speed up, and the parasympathetic system slows everything down.

The sympathetic system is activated to get you out of danger, and the parasympathetic will get activated to restore, digest and repair.

What happens to often in this modern society is that we are under constant stress and pressure, and this again does not allow the bodily system to slow down and repair from that stress. We are mostly operating from our sympathetic nervous system, overflooding our body with stress hormones.

Most people are overstimulated and stressed out, and there is not space or a culture for handling that stress in a healthy way. This makes the stress get stuck in the body, creating highly over-reactive individuals.

Are you or do you know someone that has inappropriate overreactions, have difficulties relaxing or calming down, feel unsafe and are stuck in defensive mode? This is due to an overactive sympathetic nervous system.

Don’t worry, we know how you can heal this pattern. In our breathwork session we work with the whole nervous system. We create safe containers for you to facilitate catharsis and emotional release, as well as rest, repair and digestion. Through conscious connected breathwork we process and release the stress in the body, allowing us to step into the parasympathetic nervous system, calming down and coming back to wholeness and harmony.

 

Science has shown us that by mindfully changing our pattern of breathing we are changing the pattern of information that travels to the brain, again allowing us to process and regulate our emotions,  but also our perceptions, judgements, thoughts, and behaviors. The effect of this is that we increase our ability to trust, love, connect, bond, be intimate and feel empathy.

Dr. Geberg, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, who did research on the effect breathwork had on people with severe anxiety, depression and PTSD, said;

“Because breathing has such a strong impact on our thoughts and feelings, it provides a portal through which we can send messages through our own nervous system to quiet our minds, reduce defensive over reactivity, and enable us to feel safe, close, loving and loved”.

We also know though science that breathing affects every organ, system and function in the body. Through breathwork you can expect:

  • Improve immune system: Our style of breathing alkalises the body, again killing viruses and bacteria that cannot survive in an alkalised environment.
  • Improved Respiratory Function: Breathwork exercises strengthen the diaphragm and increase lung capacity, enhancing overall respiratory efficiency. This can lead to better oxygenation of the blood and improved stamina.
  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, breathwork helps lower cortisol levels, promoting relaxation and reducing the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
  • Enhanced Mental Clarity and Focus: Breathwork increases oxygen flow to the brain, which can improve concentration, cognitive function, and mental clarity.
  • Improved Cardiovascular Health: Regular breathwork can lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of heart disease. By calming the nervous system and improving oxygenation, breathwork supports heart health and overall cardiovascular function.
  • Boosted Immune System: Deep and rhythmic breathing stimulates the lymphatic system, which helps remove toxins from the body and boosts immune function. Enhanced oxygen delivery to cells also supports the immune response and overall health.
  • Enhanced Emotional Regulation: Breathwork can help individuals process and release suppressed emotions, leading to better emotional regulation and a sense of inner peace.
  • Better Sleep Quality: By promoting relaxation and reducing stress, breathwork can improve sleep quality.
  • Pain Management: Breathwork can activate the body’s natural pain relief mechanisms. Deep, controlled breathing increases endorphin production and helps manage chronic pain conditions by promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension.
  • Increased Energy Levels: Breathwork practices enhance oxygen delivery to the body’s tissues, boosting energy levels and reducing fatigue.
  • Detoxification: Deep breathing promotes the expulsion of carbon dioxide and other toxins from the body. This process supports the detoxification of vital organs and enhances overall cellular health.