Stories / Training

Breathwork – Breathing exercises for relaxation

Do you also want to learn how to use your breathing consciously to improve your well-being? Then breathwork is for you.

Breathwork focuses on consciously controlling and changing the way we breathe to positively affect our mind, body and spirit. Learn different breathing techniques and breathing exercises to find your peace and improve your health.

What is breathwork and how does it work?

Breathwork is a holistic practice that incorporates consciously controlled breathing techniques. The aim is to create a conscious connection between breathing and your inner well-being. By using different breathing techniques, you can influence your nervous system, improve oxygenation in the body and create calm and balance.

  • So how does breathwork work?

    - When it comes to our breathing, it is intimately connected to our autonomic nervous system which regulates our body's response to stress or relaxation. When you are stressed, the so-called sympathetic nervous system takes over, causing our heart rate to increase, our muscles to tense and our breathing to become shallow and fast. It is usually called the "fight-or-flight" reaction and it is itself essential for survival, but when it becomes chronic it can instead lead to anxiety, fatigue and other health problems.

    - Breathing techniques such as breathwork are used to calm the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. By slowing down, resting and deepening our breath, we send signals to the brain that it's safe to relax, which brings lots of benefits to your well-being.

Benefits of breathwork

There are a number of healthy benefits of breathwork – here are just a few of them:

  • Reduced stress: Breathwork can effectively lower stress hormones such as cortisol, providing a sense of calm and well-being.

  • Improved sleep: By regulating the nervous system, breathing work can help induce deeper sleep.

  • Improved concentration: Slow, deep breaths can help calm the mind and improve attention span.

  • Reduced pain: Breathwork can help manage pain by activating the body's natural pain-relieving mechanisms.

  • Increased energy: Correct breathing can increase energy levels and improve your endurance.

  • Improved emotional well-being: Breathwork can provide emotional regulation and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Different types of breathwork

There are several different types of Breathwork to add to your routine. Here we describe a couple of these:

  • Transformational breathing: A technique of deep, constant breathing through the nose without pauses between inhalation and exhalation. This type of breathing is used to open up emotional blockages and promote personal growth.

    Benefits: Promotes physical and emotional healing, increases energy flow and awareness.

Pranayama: A diverse set of breathing techniques from the Indian yoga tradition.

- Examples of pranayama breathing include Nadi Shodhana (alternating nasal breathing), Kapalabhati (rapid, forceful breathing) and Ujjayi (light, audible breathing).

- Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama): This technique involves alternately blocking one nostril with the thumb while inhaling through the other nostril and then switching sides and exhaling with the first. This exercise helps balance the flow of energy between the two hemispheres of the brain and promotes relaxation and focus.

- Kapalabhati:

- Start with a passive inhalation: Breathe in slowly and naturally through the nose and allow the stomach to expand gently.

- Take a quick, forceful exhalation: Contract your stomach muscles strongly as if you are trying to pull your navel towards your spine. This will create a "pumping" action that expels air quickly through the nose.

- Relax your stomach as you exhale and then continue to repeat powerful exhalations and passive inhalations.

- Ujjayi - also called "ocean breath"

- Begin with a slow, deep inhalation through the nose. Feel your belly expand as you fill your lungs with air.

- Exhale while gently contracting the back of your throat as if whispering. This creates a soft, ocean-like sound.

- Benefits: Balances energy flow, increases awareness and promotes physical and mental health.

Holotropic breathing: The technique involves deep, rapid breathing in a continuous circular motion. With this breathing, one wants to create an increased awareness and make it possible to have a profound spiritual experience.

- Benefits: Promotes emotional healing, can open up to spiritual experiences and increases awareness of the subconscious.

5 breathing exercises for relaxation

  • 4-7-8 Breathing: Inhale through the nose for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, exhale through the mouth for eight seconds. Repeat several times.

  • Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing: A technique that focuses on breathing with your diaphragm instead of just using your chest. Do this:

- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose so your stomach expands, hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale through your mouth as you relax your stomach.

- Benefits: Promotes relaxation, reduces tension in the neck and shoulders, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

  • Square breathing (box breathing)

- Inhale: Visualize the left side of the square. Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose for 4 seconds. Feel your belly expand.

- Hold your breath: Visualize the upper side of the square. Hold your breath for 4 seconds.

- Exhale: Visualize the right side of the square. Exhale slowly and completely through the nose or mouth for 4 seconds. Feel your stomach tighten.

- Pause: Visualize the lower side of the square. Pause for 4 seconds before starting again.

  • Deep breathing: This basic technique involves taking slow, deep breaths through your nose, filling your belly with air. Exhale slowly through the mouth or nose. Repeat for several minutes.

  • Lion's Breath: Sit up straight and open your mouth wide. Exhale forcefully with a "ha" sound and stick out your tongue. Breathe in through your nose and repeat several times.

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Breathing exercises within yoga

In the practice of yoga, you focus a lot on breathing during the different positions you perform and there are a variety of breathing exercises in yoga. We have mentioned several of these above, for example Ocean Breath, Nadi Shodhana (alternating nostril breathing) and classic deep breathing.

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