Conscious Breathing has been a part of Yoga and dates back as far as 5000 years. At the heart of yoga practice are various forms of breathing exercises known as pranayama or breathe control. Prana (vital or life force) circulates in the body, influencing mental and physical health, as well as the quality of our consciousness. If the circulation of life force is blocked due to stress or injury, illness can result. If our life force is weak, we lose our ability to concentrate. We will feel fatigued and lack energy. If it is disturbed, our minds and emotions become disturbed.
The utilization of various Conscious Breathing activities in a specific way will affect many physiological functions such as heart rate and blood pressure, digestion, lung capacity, fluid exchange in the body and hormonal function to name a few. There are exercises that will reduce blood pressure, improve digestion, reduce fatigue, mental and physical stress, assist in detoxifying the body and improve mental concentration. Conscious Breathing is also very useful in bringing more awareness to the breath, its relationship to the individual, and life itself. Just bringing your awareness to the breath in any given moment, observing as you take one breath in and as that breath goes out again can offer a whole new perspective to what is going on in any given moment.
Breathe Integration, and other terms such as Breathwork, Rebirthing, Transformational Breathing or Holotropic Breathing is a powerful approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, trans-personal psychology, eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions of the world.
The process itself uses very simple means: it combines accelerated breathing with evocative relaxing music in a safe and comfortable setting. With the eyes closed and lying down, each person uses their own breath and music in the room to enter a non-ordinary relaxed state of consciousness. This state activates the natural inner healing process of the individual’s psyche, activating a vast and varied number of personal internal experiences. With the inner healing intelligence guiding the process, the quality and content brought forth is unique to each person and for the particular time and place. While recurring themes are common, no two sessions are ever alike. Additional elements of the process may include focused energy release work and deep inner peace.
When used in specific ways, Breath Integration allows us to release and resolve emotions, stresses and memories which are often inaccessible through the more conventional talking therapies. Breathing, beyond the basic need for survival, acts as a bridge between spirit, mind, and body; a bridge between the conscious and the subconscious. “Breath Integration” is one of the quickest ways to open our hearts to love and inner peace, and to fill our bodies with life and health. Connecting the inhale with the exhale consciously and continuously is one of the most effective ways of connecting us to our bodies, our thoughts and emotions, to each other, nature and existence itself.
The effects of this transformational breath process can be identified on at least four levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
- Physically Conscious Breathing reduces stress and releases pain that may be held in the body.
- Mentally, it helps us become conscious of beliefs and patterns in our unconscious, which are preventing us from manifesting what we desire.
- Emotionally, this breathwork allows us to release and integrate what we have suppressed.
- Spiritually, Conscious Breathing awakens our intuitive powers and our awareness of our essential innocence. In other words, we become fully conscious — conscious thinkers, conscious feelers, conscious breathers, and conscious participants in our own life experience.
Did you know:
- The average person breathes between 18,000 – 20,000 breaths per day. This totals an average of 5,000 gallons of air.
- 70% of toxins are eliminated during the breathing process. Only a small % of toxins are eliminated through perspiration, defecation and urination
- 90% of the nutrition needed by the body comes from the oxygen we breathe. Only 10% comes from the food we eat and without sufficient oxygen, we will not get proper nutrition from our food. Oxygen is the fuel that burns our food.
- We can go 10-14 days without food, 4 days without liquids, hours without heat but only 4 minutes without air before brain damage occurs.
- Air is the most quickly distributed element in the body. It immediately enters the bloodstream as oxygen must be constantly supplied to each and every cell.
- Each breath nourishes and feeds the circulatory system. Deeper breathing enhances cellular activity and therefore our very strength.
- Only three percent of body waste is expelled through defecation and only a further seven percent through urination. The skin is responsible for a further twenty percent of the discharge of body waste. Seventy percent of bodily waste matter is breathed out.
- The rate of blood flow at the top of the lungs is less than a tenth of a litre per minute. By contrast, the bottom of the lungs has a blood flow at a rate of over a litre per minute. With proper diaphragmatic breathing we can increase our capacity to discharge waste material ten times; our breathing rate can drop from 14-15 breaths per minutes to 8-12; we become more deeply oxygenated and our lungs and heart don’t have to work as hard.
- According to one medical researcher, seventy-five percent of the ills people bring to their doctors are related to poor breathing. Gay Hendricks states that “poor diaphragmatic breathing has become a universal breathing problem” and if we could develop only one generation of children who breathe correctly, diseases could almost be eliminated.
The Refocusing Breath
The Refocusing Breath is an easy, gentle and efficient practice that can have a significant effect on physiology when it is practiced consistently over a period of time.
You will inhale through your nose quietly and exhale through your mouth noisily, curling your tongue in a circle (it helps to purse your lips) exhaling through your tongue as if it were a straw. The sound when you exhale is a kind of whoosh. Try this a few times so that you get comfortable with exhaling through your mouth and through your tongue.
- Begin the Refocusing Breath by exhaling through your mouth completely.
- Next, Breath in through your nose to the count of Four
- Then hold your breath to the count of seven (7 seconds)
- Then, exhale through your mouth to the count of eight.(8 seconds)
- When you exhale make the whooshing sound through your tongue and pursed lips.
- Repeat the process of 4/7/8 for a total of four cycles (you will find this takes very little time).
Your exhalation must last for a count of eight, so resist the temptation to blow it all out in the first 2 seconds. Let out a slow, measured breath; then repeat the cycle again. At the end of four cycles breathe normally without trying to influence the breath.
To reap the long-term benefits of the Refocusing Breath, do a minimum of four cycles twice a day. After a couple of weeks you can increase the number of cycles to eight, twice a day. Over time you will begin to notice the subtle but tangible affects of practicing the Refocusing Breath.
Some of the Benefits of Conscious Breathing
- IMPROVES RESPIRATION
- REVITALIZES YOUR BODY AND REDUCES FATIGUE
- REDUCES THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF STRESS
- EFFECTIVELY HELPS ONE MANAGE FEAR AND PHOBIAS
- HELPS ONE MANAGE SHOCK, GRIEF AND TRAUMA
- IMPROVES ONE’S CONCENTRATION
- INCREASES SELF-AWARENESS
- INCREASES ONE’S SENSE OF WELL-BEING
- IS A DOORWAY TO INSPIRATION