Breathwork – hype or here to stay?
Breathwork is starting to gain in popularity worldwide – but the practice is actually not new at all. The term Breathwork can mean many different things to many different people, with various styles and modalities and new spins on this ancient practice. There is no right or wrong – we like to think of it as different styles or flavors that will resonate with different types of people.
A loose definition of breathwork is “breathing in a specific pattern to achieve a certain goal”. In a session, you combine different types of breaths (inhalation and exhalation) for different durations, speeds, and intensities together with breath holds or retentions (on inhale or exhale). This affects the central nervous system and ripples out as physical, mental and emotional changes.
Some breathwork benefits practitioners seek are more energy, vitality, clarity, focus, pain alleviation, resilience, presence and peace.
While the science behind what is breathwork is recent, the practice itself is ancient. Conscious breathing has been used for thousands of years, for example, as pranayama – one of the eight limbs of yoga. Controlled breathing has also been used in qi gong and martial arts and cultures related to Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Shamanism, and Sufism.
Breathwork is like a light shining on all the shadows – mental and emotional – so that you can become aware of them and consciously let them go. The breathwork benefits and experience varies widely from person to person and time to time. Sometimes it can be purely physical but you experience a change of mindset or mood. In a longer session can go deeper into the roots of your challenges or the essence of who you truly are.
How Deep Breathing Works
Science is slowly catching up with the magic of breathwork. What happens in the deeper extended breathing practices is truly remarkable. Some people say it is the most impactful experience of their lives – even more than some of their deepest plant medicine or psychedelic experiences. This without ingesting any substances or medicines!
As you breathe deeper and deeper, you start to release endorphins and other chemicals within the bloodstream. You experience different reactions, which vary from person to person and with your set and setting. You can feel all sorts of bodily sensations and memory recalls as your brainwaves shift from alpha to beta and sometimes even theta.
This is where we can access more of the subconscious mind, move into heart coherence and even enter a state of complete euphoria. As we breathe more, our CO2 levels drop. CO2 plays a key role in delivering oxygen to your brain and other tissues – so as the delivery slows down, the oxygen in the brain drops slightly, signaling to the body that something is up (we get into the science a bit more below). Some people think this is where the brain believes it’s having a near-death experience where suppressed memories arise. Some even think you can release DMT from your brain, and that’s what creates this psychedelic-like experience. Don’t worry though – it’s totally safe.
Is breathwork Safe?
YES. Very. A report from 2013 documented the results of 11,000 people over 12 years who participated in a certain type of intense breathwork sessions. In addition to the many benefits observed, no adverse reactions were reported. This makes breathwork a low-risk modality.
In fact, there are NO cases in the research or literature of any reported incidents of things like strokes, heart attacks, etc. from breathwork.
For Whom is Breathwork?
The short answer: everyone! Breathwork builds on the most natural thing that exists – breathing. While there are certain types of intense breathwork that come with contraindications, there are more gentle practices that can be used by anyone to boost health, energy and vitality.
Breathwork helps with healing. That said, it is also useful for those who feel good and want to improve their performance, elevate their consciousness and connect with their life purpose.
Who should avoid Breathwork?
Breathwork is not advised for persons with a history of cardiovascular disease, including angina or heart attack, high blood pressure, glaucoma, retinal detachment, osteoporosis, significant recent physical injuries or surgery without first speaking with a medical professional.
Breathwork is not advised for those with severe mental illness or seizure disorders or for persons using major medications. It is also unsuitable for anyone with a personal or family history of aneurysms.
Pregnant women are advised against practicing breathwork without first consulting and getting approval from their primary care physician. Persons with asthma should have their inhaler present at all times and consult with their primary health care provider.
Breathwork Helps You…
Move through your daily life with a smile.
Breathwork helps you manage stress. Feel more resilient and ready to handle everyday challenges without getting upset! Because life is more enjoyable when you meet traffic jams and misunderstandings with a smile instead of a cortisol explosion.
Get perspective on life and focus on what truly matters.
If you have experienced a deep release during a breathwork session, you can probably relate to how overthinking, worry and anxiety suddenly went down a notch and gave place for gratitude and a deep appreciation for life. Breathwork is one of the fastest ways of getting out of a funk and back to what’s really important in life. A recent study showed that breathing combined with meditation helped people with depression when medication didn’t work.
Feel more connected – to yourself, others and the present moment.
Breathwork facilitates getting in touch with yourself, your passions, purpose and dreams. Attending a session with others creates an instant sense of community – many friendships have been made after a breathwork class! It also helps you get back to the now and feel more grounded and present with the people you love.
Achieve peak performance physically and mentally.
Breathwork supports your body in using oxygen in an optimal way. It can increase athletic performance. Mentally, it can boost clarity, focus and concentration. This 2018 study from Consciousness & Cognition showed that participants engaging in breath-focused yoga had a longer attention span. Breathing in a certain way can increase noradrenaline according to another study, leading to better emotional management and enhanced focus. An invaluable asset in our wonderful but distraction-filled world!
Countless studies have shown the benefits of breathing on physical health. Disease thrives in an acidic environment and breathwork makes your body more alkaline. Breathing consciously can support your immune system and there are anecdotes on people reversing chronic autoimmune diseases by regular breathwork. Regular breathwork can lower blood pressure by teaching us to breathing slower. Many studies have shown that slow, deep breathing can help reduce pain.
The true magic of breathwork can’t be put in words: it’s an experience of the power that’s already within you. Feeling this power will change how you think, act and feel, and what you believe to be possible.
Experience the breathwork benefits instantly through some of these breathing techniques! An Elemental Rhythm session combines several of these techniques together with breath holds/retention.
Helps you to relax and get more resilient
Alternate nostril breathing that balances your yin and yang qualities, the energies of action and stillness
Relaxes your central nervous system and increases nitric oxide production
Reduces depression and anxiety, improves sleep quality
On our online platform, there are many other guided experiences and focused sessions waiting for you – which one becomes your favorite?
The Science Behind Breathwork
Breath retention and hypoxia
During breath holds, your body enters a state called hypoxia. The lack of oxygen puts it in survival mode. This can sound dramatic but causes a positive stress response releasing feel-good hormones like dopamine and substances like adrenaline and norepinephrine, leading to the “high” you can experience. The benefits of hypoxia go beyond feeling high – several studies have linked hypoxia to stem cell regeneration, which can help heal diseases, including those considered chronic.
Humming breath and nitric oxide
Humming breath, called bhramari in yogic traditions, has been shown to increase nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide is a key molecule in the body involved in healthy heart function and the immune system. A study suggested it helped shrink tumors, and it has been linked to alleviation of depression, asthma and infections.
The Brainwave Effect
One of the breathwork benefits is that breathwork can shift your brainwave state. A brainwave can be understood as a state of being.
There are different types of brainwaves:
- Beta: Most people spend their waking time in beta, which is related to analytical thinking, anxiety and stress.
- Alpha: Alpha brainwaves yield a relaxed, meditative state associated with positive thinking and pleasure.
- Theta: This state is even deeper and is associated with deep meditation and sleep, hypnotic states and creativity. The subconscious mind can be reprogrammed in the theta state.
An interesting side note regarding breathwork benefits is that neuroscientists have recently discovered that brainwaves are contagious. Through a process called brain-to-brain synchrony, your brainwaves naturally resonate with those of the people around you, explaining why you can have such profound and powerful experiences when doing breathwork in a group setting.
The Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve has been described as the body’s highway connecting the brain with all the vital organs. Toning the vagus nerve is believed to result in better communication between distinct body parts. This results in reduced stress, anxiety and depression, together with improved immune, brain and gut function. Breathwork activates the nervous system and stimulates the vagus nerve to achieve these effects.
What is Elemental Rhythm Breathwork?
Elemental Rhythm is a culmination of years of studying various breathwork practices from different modalities and teachers presented in a modern way that is fun, easy to understand and highly effective.
It started as a self-exploratory practice as our founder Gio looked for a way to get answers and feel better daily. To his delight, he discovered a sequence that seemed to work on repeat.
He started to share his method to help others experience the breathwork benefits. First with family and friends, and then on a larger scale. He refined it by taking the things he loved the most and adding music, rhythm and movement to create experiences that were exciting and impactful – and fun! It evolved into what is Elemental Rhythm today: a combination of different types of elemental breaths and the cadence of music to take the participant on a journey.
What is the Elemental Rhythm Breakthrough Experience?
The Elemental Rhythm Breakthrough Experience (ERBE) is a deep breathing journey taking the participant through an impactful and profound experience.
An ERBE combines movement, guided meditation and special breathing techniques connected to the four elements for a truly unforgettable experience. It is somewhat comparable to other popular breathing techniques like holotropic breathwork, transformational breathing or even the Wim Hof method – but with its own unique style and flavor. Could it be the right modality for you?
Begins With You
Try Our Free Breathwork Course Here!
We get it – there’s an abundance of information about breathwork and it can feel overwhelming to know where to start. To make your life easier, we have created this free micro immersion introducing you to Elemental Rhythm breathwork.
Learn how to:
- Change your mood in just 10 minutes
- Harness the full potential of each breath
- Have breakthroughs on demand through the Elemental Rhythm Breakthrough Experience
No! Anyone who breathes can practice breathwork. Some styles are more gentle and easy for beginners, but you can start with any breathing technique you feel called to. Always listen to your body and take breaks as needed for more intense breathwork styles – you’ll be surprised to see how fast you’re improving!
Daily! Some people will even practice multiple times per day. Even outside of doing a focused breathwork practice, we recommend that you breathe properly and efficiently. We have designed a course called Breathing Fundamentals to teach people precisely how to do that.
Breathwork is based on ancient breathing techniques such as pranayamic breathing exercises from the yogic tradition and shamanic breathwork. Modern breathwork styles such as Elemental Rhythm use different breathing techniques – sometimes combined with elements like music, movement and meditation for an experience designed to achieve a specific goal. The goal can be to reduce stress, get an energy boost or find inner peace. It can thus be said that breathwork is an extension of pranayama – it can refer to a session with just one pranayama technique, but is more often a fusion between different breathing styles and other healing modalities.
You can practice Elemental Rhythm breathwork in several ways:
Through our online platform available to anyone, anywhere. Choose between different breathwork sessions, breathing exercises, courses and MindWork tracks allowing you to upgrade an area of your life through our unique fusion of breathing and subconscious reprogramming.
By attending our weekly Monday live classes – online, free of charge and with zero prerequisites needed!
By finding an Elemental Rhythm breathwork facilitator in your area. We are expanding rapidly and facilitators are getting certified and hosting sessions all over the world.
Via an online session with one of our certified breathwork facilitators.
You can experience Elemental Rhythm in a group session or individually. Many of our students prefer a mix of the two to get the power of community together with the fine-tuned private session tailored to your needs and desires.
While it is individual, many of our students report feeling a positive shift after only one session. That’s just one of the reasons why breathwork is growing so rapidly – it can provide quick yet lasting results physically, mentally and emotionally. Naturally, a frequent practice will allow you to reap more benefits and go deeper.
Breathwork refers to the usage of different techniques, like diaphragmatic breathing or alternate nostril breathing, to improve your breathing patterns, fight shallow breathing problems, and gain a wide range of mental health benefits.
Those who start doing shallow breaths will trigger the sympathetic nervous system, which can cause some problems in the future. This is especially dangerous for those with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, high blood pressure, and more. Thankfully, breathwork practice can help trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, which will decrease your heart rate and dilate your blood vessels.
Now, is it truly worth it to try out a breathwork session? Absolutely! Learning controlled breathing techniques isn’t too complicated, and if you’re consistent, you can achieve deep relaxation levels that you would have never thought of!
Although it’s commonly used in yoga, you can also use alternate nostril breathing in your mindfulness or relaxation sessions. As the name implies, you will start breathing through your nostrils, one side at a time.
Those who suffer from stress, anxiety, or other mental health disorders can greatly benefit from this type of breathing. You can learn more about it through our sessions.
Holotropic breathwork is one of the most interesting techniques for diaphragmatic breathing. To summarize, this is a therapeutic breathing skill that allows people to reach into their inner selves and heal emotionally.
People who try out this type of breathing claim they enter an altered state of consciousness in which they’ll be able to explore more about their minds. The process itself involves breathing faster than usual for a fixed amount of time.
Several people try out this breathing technique to tackle:
- Chronic Pain
- Negative Thoughts
- And more
Although holotropic breathwork claims to have many benefits, you should seek professional advice before doing it, as changing your breathing patterns drastically could have a negative effect on your health. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, for example, shouldn’t try this technique, as this breathing type can bring intense emotions or painful memories.
Yes, belly breathing is the same thing as diaphragmatic breathing. This breathing technique encourages people to achieve full oxygen exchange.
While we are all born with the knowledge of diaphragmatic breathing, life circumstances often make us forget and breathe in the wrong way. Thankfully, learning how to use this type of breathing again only takes consistency.
Absolutely! As mentioned before, we already are born with this knowledge; it’s just a matter of re-learning it. While you can do this yourself, breathwork classes can help you discover deep breaths and many other techniques that will allow you to achieve much deeper states of relaxation.
In our effort to rebirthing breathwork, we want to give you an overview of what benefits you can expect from starting to do deep breaths and other breathwork techniques.
Here’s what you can expect from each breathing exercise you do on your next breathing practice:
- Emotional release
- Tension release
- Changing into a healthier breathing pattern
- Create inner peace and mental clarity
- Increase awareness
- Have better control over your mind and thoughts
Each individual experience is different, so if you truly want to know what the benefits of breathwork will be for you, then you must try out one of these sessions yourself! You will quickly notice how intentional breathing can change your life over the course of a few weeks.
Everyone can learn different techniques, regardless of their age. By default, adults will be more prone to trying out these sessions, as kids don’t often see these sessions as something fun.
Breathwork isn’t supposed to be “fun,” though; it’s supposed to be enlightening and relaxing. Once you create the habit of proper breathwork, you will definitely see the fun in doing these sessions.
As for people at an older age, they can consult with their doctor before starting intensive breathwork sessions with us. If there aren’t any recurring conditions that may jeopardize their health, they can definitely get started today!
Breathwork isn’t intended to replace psychological or psychiatric therapy in any way. Keep in mind these are techniques that will help you achieve a deeper relaxation state, but they won’t help if you have severe cases of mental illness.
If you consider that you’re dealing with intense mental health disorders, make sure to talk with your medical expert to see if you can engage in these sessions safely.
You can see breathwork as a complement to other therapy techniques. If you want to enjoy as many health benefits as possible, and you consider to be in good shape to try out breathwork, then feel free to contact us.