Breathe with Kelsey
Breathwork is a way of changing your breathing patterns in order to influence how you’re feeling and improve your mental and even physical health. Breathwork draws from eastern practices like Tai Chi and yoga — if you’ve done breathing exercises in a yoga class, you’re already familiar with a bit of breathwork. Each pose is centered around breathing. Breathwork originally became popular during the 1960s and ‘70s, when people wanted to tap into their consciousness more. As with a lot of fads from those days, breathwork remained on the fringes of society, more underground than mainstream.
Have you noticed when you are stressed or anxious what happens to your breathing? We start taking shorter, more frequent breaths, mimicking our mental state in the way we breathe. When you inhale, you’re sending a signal to the brain. When you’re taking quick breaths, the brain thinks something is wrong, similar to the flight-or-fight response.As a result, your brain activates the sympathetic the nervous system, which gets your body ready for physical and mental activity by cranking up stress hormones like cortisol, blood rate, anxiety, blood pressure — all the things that you might need to help you, say, run away from a bear in the woods. Wonderful for escaping wildlife, not so great for making it through a really tough day.
Breathwork is a practice to make a conscious effort to slow your breath, you’re sending a signal to your brain that all is well. Instead of the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic system kicks in, quietly scaling back on all those physical responses, while also ushering in a sense of relaxation and calmness. Breathwork helps you tap into that parasympathetic system, training your brain to relax despite clues telling it to just the opposite. It’s probably no surprise then, that in today’s ever-busy, always-connected world, breathwork is experiencing a resurgence. Not only can anyone do it — if you’re breathing, you can practice breathwork — but breathwork helps you feel Zen as one of its major benefits. Just like benefits-rich-yoga and meditation, there are different types of breathwork that are meant to tap into different emotions and experiences to help you achieve certain results.