"Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body." Thich Nhat Hanh
PHYSICAL WELL-BEING. LIGHTNESS OF HEART. CLARITY OF MIND. INNER AND OUTER HEALTH AND FULFILLMENT. PURPOSE, INTENTION, AND DIRECTION.
It should come as no surprise that breathing is one of the most important and intricate activities we engage in. In many ways, our conscious life begins with our first breath and ends with our last. Cellular respiration, the source of all our physical energy and expression in the world, is dependent on a constant flow of oxygen being delivered to each cell and carbon dioxide being taken away. Every emotional state we experience has a corresponding pattern of breathing associated with it. Even the elemental rhythm of our heartbeat is intimately connected with the action of our lungs.
THE BREATH IS ONE OF THE EASIEST DOORWAYS INTO THE CAPABILITIES OF THE HUMAN NERVOUS SYSTEM BECAUSE IT TOUCHES EVERY ASPECT OF OUR BEING: PHYSICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL, PSYCHOEMOTIONAL, AND SPIRITUAL.
Most of us have heard of the “fight or flight” response, the automatic reaction that happens in difficult or threatening situations. This response comes from our unconscious nervous system (the autonomic nervous system), which actually consists of two halves: the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system. The sympathetic system helps us get “pumped up” or energized to deal with external demands or threats, and is thus the originator of the stress response. The parasympathetic system moderates or de-energizes the body, and is thus the originator of the relaxation response. In a healthy system, these two halves of our autonomic nervous system should turn off and on regularly and in response to life events.
Unfortunately, our nervous systems do not always function in a healthy way. In our modern world, it is well established that we overstimulate our sympathetic nervous system and understimulate our parasympathetic nervous system—with disastrous impacts on our health. Living with an overamped sympathetic nervous system in a habitual stress response contributes to almost every domain of illness, from heart disease and hypertension to digestive difficulties, diabetes, backaches, joint pain, autoimmune disorders, and insomnia. Taking time to consciously activate the parasympathetic nervous system can reprogram our bodies’ habitual pull toward overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and significantly reduce the health risks associated with that overstimulation.
When we consciously regulate our breath, we break our unconscious patterns of breathing—and thus the unconscious emotional patterns that underpin them. This is a very important phenomenon! We function best when we are flexible, agile, and able to flow with the changes that life brings. Unfortunately, many of us fall into habits of thinking and feeling that come to dominate our consciousness, even when they are out of step with what life is presenting. We wind up narrowing the range of our emotional and cognitive experience and become more rigid, more habitual, and less creative. Breathwork counters this ossifying tendency. Just as many times computer glitches can be solved simply by rebooting the hard drive, so too can habitual emotional glitches be solved simply by regularly changing the patterns of our breath.
One of the most important psycho-emotional benefits of practicing breathwork is the confidence it gives practitioners to self-regulate in other areas of their lives. Because this practice takes focus, overall concentration increases as well. Since you are stimulating the relaxation response, you are able to drop into a calmer state of being. Since you are increasing oxygen levels in your blood, your cellular respiration becomes more efficient and your energy levels start to build. Breathwork is the priming mechanism for the pump that starts the virtuous cycle of feeling good about yourself!
There are many forms of Breathwork that involve breathing in a conscious and systematic way. Gentle Earth provides private and group instruction in Yogic Pranayama (Breathwork) to help improve a wide range of issues including but not limited to:
Reduce Stress and Anxiety levels
Emotional Effects of Illness
Trauma and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Release of Negative Thoughts
Weak Pelvic Floor
60 Minute Session - $75
Gentle Earth also offers group Breathwork instruction (variable costs). For more information on these services, or to book, please contact us directly. Namasté.