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Benefits of Breath

Breath is life. Every second of every day, we are breathing – whether we are conscious of it or not and this simple process has so much power over how we feel. It’s well known that stress and fear are characterised by increased breathing rate, short but rapid breaths that we often don’t have control of, so it makes sense that learning to control and regulate your breathing can affect your mood in a very positive way.

As a member of our lovely yogi community, you may be familiar with breath control but may not know exactly why breathwork has the effects it does, so we’re here to help explain a little more of the science behind breath, to give you the tools to shake off a bad mood, or handle a stressful situation more calmly and rebalance more quickly.

On a physical level, breathing is a controlling factor for the parasympathetic nervous system, which mediates our bodies instinctual reactions to the world, through releasing whichever hormones are most appropriate in the situation. One of the most well known reactions is the ‘fight or flight’ response. Whereby if we perceive a threat in our environment, chemical messages are carried through our bloodstream to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, thereby increasing our heart rate and breathing rate to maximise blood flow around the body in order to take flight from the imminent danger.

If you can intentionally control your breathing in these situations, you can slow it down, reduce your blood pressure and quickly mediate this stress response, returning you to a sense of calm more quickly. This can be an incredibly useful skill during moments of stress and or coping with panic, as many of these reactions are based in the fight or flight reflex.

A further benefit of mastering fundamental breath-work techniques is that you will start to use your diaphragm far more, rather than simply relying on your chest to support the work of your lungs. This in turn releases some of the tension in your shoulders and neck. As you are able to take deeper, stronger breaths you will also take in more oxygen which can enter your bloodstream and keep all of your muscles working more efficiently, giving you more energy.

Here at Ikigai we believe in the power of breath-work not solely for its physical benefits, but within our holistic approach, we understand the importance of the mind connected to the breath in overall wellbeing. Using breath-work, whether in meditation or in everyday moments, you are mindfully choosing to concentrate on the inner workings of your body. Thereby allowing your focus to turn inwards to what your body requires.

Once in this mindful space you may find it easier to identify and release other tensions, as well as take a moment to simply concentrate on one small action rather than trying to tackle a lot of stresses and emotions at once. Another reason why breath-work skills can be of great benefit especially if you suffer from stress or mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. Being able to focus on the breath in difficult moments can help to reduce some of the symptoms and help create a space in which you feel more at ease.

To develop your breath-work skills whether you are just at the start of your journey of learning the art of pranayama (literally translated to breath control), or need more advanced mastery techniques, chat to us at the studio – Sunni and Saskia at reception are passionate yogis who will be delighted to help and advise you of which classes will help suit you and your your breath-work level best.