When the term ‘Breathwork’ is mentioned, many people immediately assume it’s all about learning how to breathe properly, leading to quips like, “I don’t need to do that, I’ve been breathing my whole life!” Others associate it with optimizing breathing for athletic performance or breath practices to relax and fall asleep. However, Breathwork has nothing to do with these things. Here, we will address the query, ‘What is Breathwork?’ and tackle some frequently raised questions that accompany this topic.
What is Breathwork?: An Overview
Breathwork, with no space between ‘breath’ and ‘work’, refers to a range of practices that utilize focused, intentional breathing to process emotions and enhance overall health and well-being. This modality is also referred to as conscious, connected breathing, or circular, connected breathing, and all refer to the same thing. Contrary to popular belief, Breathwork isn’t centered on teaching people how to breathe optimally in everyday life; in fact, it often involves mouth breathing, which isn’t recommended for day-to-day respiration. And instead of the typical aim of triggering the Parasympathetic Nervous System for relaxation, as seen in many breath practices, the central objective is to intentionally stimulate the Sympathetic Nervous System to invigorate the body with heightened awareness.
The Typical Structure of a Breathwork Session
Breathwork is ideally practiced with a trained facilitator present. The sessions can be one-on-one, or in a group setting (find out the benefits of each here), in-person, or online. The most popular types of in-person breathwork include: Rebirthing Breathwork, Transformational Breathwork, and Holotropic Breathwork. The most popular type of online breathwork is Neurodynamic Breathwork.
An experienced facilitator will begin the session by providing a detailed explanation of the process, including potential experiences that can arise. And then guide the group through a specific breathing pattern, which typically involves deep, circular breaths. The breathwork is often accompanied by music, which can help to deepen the experience.
Sessions can vary in duration, but typically a full-length session will be at least 50 minutes long. In certain modalities, the breathwork session concludes with a sharing circle and grounding. In the context of Neurodynamic Breathwork, we emphasize the significance of the sharing circle as an integral aspect of the overall experience.
Benefits of Breathwork:
- Aids positive self-development
- Boosts immunity
- Provides a platform for processing emotions, and healing emotional pain and trauma
- Helps you develop life skills, and release unhealthy habits and coping mechanisms
- Increases self-awareness
- Enriches creativity
- Can improve personal and professional relationships
- Increases confidence, self-image, and self-esteem
- Supports joy and happiness
- Reduces stress and anxiety levels
- Releases negative thoughts
It is used to help improve a wide range of issues including:
- Anger and rage issues
- Emotional effects of illness
What is Breathwork? An Explanation of How it Works
With breathwork, the inhale and exhale are connected, meaning there is no pause between the in-breath and the out-breath. Breathing is typically deeper and faster than normal, and these alterations cause CO2 levels to drop and the blood to become more alkaline. This, in turn, reduces activity in a specific part of the brain called the Default Mode Network (DMN). The DMN is responsible for the mental constructs of self and ego. When this area of the brain is quiet, we gain access to the subconscious mind and to unconscious material that we don’t normally have access to. This is really important because our subconscious mind is essentially running our lives without our conscious awareness.
Why Access to the Subconscious Mind in Breathwork is So Beneficial
It’s estimated that our conscious mind accounts for approximately 5% of our total brain power. Whereas our subconscious mind accounts for 95%. This is the part of our psyche that is responsible for running our body 24/7 without us thinking about it. And it knows exactly what needs to happen in our body and psyche to move toward health and wholeness. The subconscious mind is usually inaccessible in normal waking consciousness. And yet it is there in the background silently dictating 95% of our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. By gaining access to the unconscious material of the subconscious mind, breathwork offers an incredible opportunity to create deep healing and lasting change.
Additional Impacts of Breathwork on the Brain
Researchers have discovered that the rhythm of holotropic breathwork (which is based on the same breathing technique that we use at Neurodynamic breathwork), creates electrical activity in the part of the human brain that promotes emotional judgment and memory recall (1). The memory recall that can happen in breathwork is an important element for healing as the rising to the surface of unconscious memories allows for them to be processed and released. It also provides a chance to transform disempowering memories into more empowering narratives, as heightened awareness can unveil the valuable lessons gained from past struggles, which in turn contribute to our present strengths. Researchers have also found that breathwork can lead to growth in the parts of the brain that are involved in processing sensory information and paying attention (2).
What is Neurodynamic Breathwork and What Sets it Apart from Other Breathwork?
Neurodynamic Breathwork (NDB) by Michael Stone, offers convenient and affordable live-facilitated online breathwork sessions from the comfort of your own home. Sessions include an intro, a shared 60-minute breathwork supported by a facilitator, a scientifically-curated playlist, and a sharing and integration circle. The sharing circle aids participants in interpreting and integrating their experiences, and is a crucial part of the breathwork journey.
There are monthly NDB subscriptions on offer and live online sessions run five times weekly, allowing frequent participation. This is beneficial because the neurons that fire together, wire together. Regular breathwork strengthens neural pathways, enhances access to inner intelligence, promotes emotional self-control, and boosts creativity. Our subscribers report symptom relief, with 89% for anxiety, 67% for depression, and 84% for trauma. Our participants also report improved romantic relations, as well as a deeper connection to their bodies.
In addition to our science-based approach, global accessibility, thorough facilitator training, and frequent sessions on offer, another thing that distinguishes us is that our facilitators remain silent during the breathing phase. This is beneficial as it enables participants to stay connected to their inner guiding intelligence (IGI), so that their IGI cabn guide the session. The IGI is your inner wisdom, it holds all the answers and understands your needs better than any facilitator ever could. And by connecting to it in ongoing breathwork sessions, you also gain greater access to it in everyday life (which supports you in all that you do).
Closing Thoughts on the Neurodynamic Breathwork Experience
It is the intertwining of breath, music, surrender, and connection to the Inner Guiding Intelligence that creates the profound experience of Neurodynamic Breathwork sessions. The extraordinary depth of experience that participants encounter in our sessions is impossible to fully describe and you need to experience it to truly understand its power. If you would like to join one of our transformational sessions, and partake in faster, deeper breathing to quiet the ego mind, connect to your Inner Guiding Intelligence, heal wounds of the past, and step into your fullest potential, we invite you to register for free!
Click here to find out more about our online breathwork process.