Conscious breathing is the practice of breathing with awareness of your internal experience, awareness on the breath and/or breathing with a particular intention.
“Breathwork” is the practice of consciously using the breath or breathing techniques for a specific period of time and for an outcome. Generally, this can be engaged through a group, 1-on-1 or in personal practice to cultivate self-awareness, physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual well-being.
The Origins Of Breathwork
Conscious Connected Breathwork
Conscious Connected Breathwork (CCB) is an experiential field of study and practice that uses conscious connected breathing and body-mind techniques to support the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels of being.
Many modern practices of “Breathwork”, use Conscious Connected Breathing as the foundation for a session. Conscious connected breath is a breathing pattern in which the person intentionally connects the inhalation with the exhalation, in a cyclical pattern, removing any pause between the in-breath and the out-breath.
Conscious Connected Breathwork V. Pranayama And Breath Control
Types Of Conscious Connected Breathwork (CCB)
There are numerous types of breathwork, with the above definition you could include pranayama as a type of breathwork; then also breathing techniques for physical performance and endurance, focus in sports etc. For the purposes of the below list of “modern breathwork” we are including types of CCB styles which have gained popularity in recent times. This list is by no means exhaustive and there are numerous other slight variations and brands which use their own spin on the foundational work.
The Wim Hof Method
What happens during a Breathwork session?
It depends on the intention of the breathwork practice. If it is for performance or meditation, it will be between 3 – 20 minutes, with sequencing and breath suspension to enter deeper states of meditation or prepare the body for activity.
If it is a transcendental or healing breathwork practice, it is normally for a duration of 30mins to 1 hour in a group or 1 on 1 in a private session. The facilitator may use music to help the participant(s) move through the journey and access different layers of their subconscious.
As we breathe through the mouth in connected cycles, the fight or flight system (sympathetic nervous system is activated), which can bring up latent stress in the nervous system, body, mind, past memories, emotions and stuck energy which can potentially be transmuted or let go of. Breathwork can trigger past traumas or latent stress in the body/mind, bring up memories, induce a trance-like state and touch a much more primal aspect of your yourself.
What can you experience during breathwork?
The experiences during and after a breathwork session vary widely and often depend on the technique, the constitution of the person, and what they need to experience. In short, breathwork sessions vary from session to session and from person to person. In longer breathwork sessions, the first few times can be quite physical including tingliness, tightness, heat, sweatiness, cramping etc and include emotional release as what is experienced may be uncomfortable or unusual. There are of course some major benefits despite some discomforts of breathing in an unnatural way.
What Are the Benefits Of Breathwork?
Everybody has a different experience with breathwork and it does depend on the type and intention of the breathwork you practice. Some of the benefits include:
uncovering and releasing limiting beliefs
trance-like states of consciousness
increased sense of self worth
deep connection to self and others
states of elation, compassion, empathy, love, understanding, acceptance, joy, etc.
What is the purpose of breathwork?
There are many reasons to practice breathwork. For shorter breathwork practices and daily routines, there are performance reasons, clarity of mind, focus, meditation, calming and getting clear, and becoming more intuitive. For longer sessions, the purpose of breathwork may be just be to have an experience of deeper layers of the self; more often than not, it is to remember who you truly are and shed that which is in-authentic. This might look like releasing emotional tension and embracing a new way of living and feeling. It can be impactful in re-wiring your subconscious mind, stepping into something scary, relating to yourself in a more healthy way or for a transcendental or meditative experience.