What is Breathwork?

If you’re new to breathwork, the idea of it may be a little unclear. What is breathwork, exactly? What does it do? And how can you get started? Ahhh so many questions! But, don’t stress my friend, this post will answer all of those questions and more! 😉

We’ll talk about what breathwork is, the benefits you can expect from it, and some simple tips for getting started. Ready to dive in? Letz roll — your journey into breathwork awaits!

So, what is breathwork?

There are so many answers to this question, but here’s one that seems to resonate the most…

Expert Dan Brulé defines breathwork as “the art and science of using breath awareness and breathing exercises for health, growth, and change in body, mind, and spirit.” You can check out the podcast episode I recorded with him here. It was an insane episode where we talked about the doors that breathwork can open and how our unconscious minds and trauma causes disruptions in our breathing. 

When I’m asked, “What is breathwork?” I almost always think about the breath being a gateway to self-improvement, self-healing, and spiritual awakening. 

According to CRC Health, “breathwork is a psychotherapeutic, meditative activity involving conscious alteration of natural breathing patterns. Breathwork has been associated with other body-centric practices, such as yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong.”

Breath is also the foundation of yogic practices. You know how your yoga teacher mentions every few moments to “focus on your breath,” “remember to breathe,” “stay with the breath,” and yadda-yadda? Well, they are guiding you to the foundation of body consciousness.

Simply put, breathwork is an ancient practice that involves releasing toxins and stress when you breathe out and nourishing your mind and body when you breathe in. It’s an ancient modality that has been used for centuries. People all over the world have sought spiritual awakening, self-healing, and meditative relaxation through conscious breathing techniques.

There are so many different types of breathwork, but they all have one thing in common: they use the breath to promote physical, mental, and emotional healing.

What are the Origins of Breathwork?

Breathwork is old AF. It is found in eastern traditions such as yoga, tai-chi, and Buddhism. But modern breathwork for transformation began to take hold in the 1960s when humanity began the new age of spirituality and change. Breathwork is the most powerful self-healing technique that exists today.  However,  breathwork has yet to become mainstream in the western world (but Pause is on a mission to share this powerful breathing technique with over 1,000,000,000 people worldwide! We’ve made it super accessible on our App and also train world-class masterful facilitators.)

For centuries,  humanity has known the power of the breath and how conscious breathing creates relaxation within the mind and body. Now it’s time to get this tool into the hands (and lungs) of more people!

Why Breathwork?

It’s a fact; everyone breathes — it’s a fundamental part of being human! When we stop breathing, well then… we’re in trouble lol. But here’s the truth: over 90% of us are using less than 50% of our breathing capacity, and by not taking in enough oxygen, we are not fueling our blood or bodies with sufficient energy.

When I think about the question, “What is breathwork?” the answer is easy. It’s a necessity for living life to the fullest and embodying your infinite potential. It’s the quickest and simplest way to manage stress and anxiety, and it’s a gateway to up-leveling your quality of life.

How does Breathwork Work?

It allows the nervous system to relax. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.

When we are met with challenging situations within our day, we can feel like we are in danger, therefore we lock up our breath and prepare to protect ourselves. In other words, we go into “survival mode”. 99.9% of the time, we are not in danger, though —  although it can feel like we are. By consciously breathing, we allow ourselves to emotionally come back to a place of balance and peace within our bodies and nervous system.

The breath is both an automatic and controlled process within our body, meaning we can completely control it, or we don’t have to think about it and it will still do its thing to keep us alive. This is what makes the breath so beautiful and unique.  In each and every moment, we have the ability to calm our minds down using the power of the breath, yet humanity doesn’t instinctively tap into this powerful tool when we are flooded with our emotions. When we learn to use the breath in the midst of a trigger or activation, we will learn how to respond in accordance with our higher selves rather than our reactive selves.

What are the benefits of breathwork?

There are countless benefits of breathwork, both short-term and long-term. Some of the most common benefits include:

  • improved sleep quality
  • reduced anxiety and stress
  • increased energy levels
  • improved concentration and focus
  • increased self-awareness
  • emotional release and healing
  • a deeper connection to the subconscious mind
  • enhanced spiritual connection and awareness
  • alkalizing the pH in your body and blood
  • has an anti-inflammatory effect

Whether you’re looking to improve your sleep quality, reduce anxiety and stress, or just want to feel more connected to your spirituality, breathwork can help. The best way to see the benefits for yourself is to try it out!

Type of Breathwork

There are SO many different types of breathwork, each with its own unique benefits. Some of the most popular types of breathwork include:

Holotropic Breathwork

Developed by Stanislav Grof in the 1960s. Holotropic breathwork is a powerful type of breathing that uses accelerated breathing to access non-ordinary states of consciousness. This type of breathwork is often used for emotional healing and self-exploration.

Rebirthing Breathwork

Also known as Conscious Connected Breathing, rebirthing breathwork was developed by Leonard Orr in the 1960s. It is a type of continuous circular breathing that helps to release trapped emotions and traumas from the past.

Transformational Breath

Developed by Dr. Judith Kravitz in the 1980s, transformational breathwork is a type of conscious breathing that involves taking uninterrupted and repetitive, fully relaxed breaths.

And of course, we’ve gotta mention Pause Breathwork 😉

We were founded by moi, Samantha Skelly, in 2018. The Pause Technique is a method of using continual breathwork to release anxiety and stress. The technique uses the breath as the healer to shift stuck emotions that create heaviness & overwhelm in the body.

And these examples only scratch the surface. There are many other types of breathwork!

How do I get started with breathwork?

If you’re new to breathwork, the best way to get started is with a guided breathwork session. This will ensure that you’re doing the technique correctly and receiving the maximum benefits. Once you’re comfortable with the basic technique, you can start practicing on your own!

If you’re looking to try breathwork, the Pause Breathwork App is a great way to get started. The app offers guided breathwork sessions that will help you learn the basics of the technique and experience the benefits for yourself. Plus, you can get started for FREE with a 14-day trial. Download the App here.

Breathwork Best Practices

And just a heads up, breathwork has the tendency to bring up patterns, thoughts, past pain, ingrained experiences, and more. I always suggest that you take good care of yourself before, during, and after you practice. And it’s possible to go at a slower pace, while you digest and release what’s coming up for you. Breathwork can feel like a spiritual experience and deserves to be done intentionally. Daily practice allows for your mind to give up the fight, as you relax deeper and deeper into your truth and body wisdom.

Some people will notice that when they first begin breathwork, their fight or flight instincts take over — don’t worry about this. Our brains are thousands of years old and only doing what they know to survive. But here’s the thing — we aren’t in a state of needing to survive anymore. We are free beings that have the capacity to create, evolve, and clear our past traumas so we can live fulfilled and meaningful lives. And breathwork can help you get there. The benefits and expansion on the other side of a session are so so sooooo worth the slight discomfort and moving through what no longer serves you.

To wrap it all up…

Breathwork is a powerful self-healing technique that can help us to reduce stress and anxiety and improve our sleep quality. It allows us to connect with our higher selves and brings about emotional release and healing. Through breathwork, we can also enhance our spiritual connection and awareness. If you haven’t tried breathwork yet, we highly recommend giving it a go! Because as you know, we’re OBSESSED with breathwork around here. 😉

With love,

Sam + The Pause Family