What is Breathwork and Does It Work?

by Shimeng Gao (3rd year Physical Therapy Doctorate student, Mount Saint Mary’s University)

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The Myth About Breathing

Breathing is a crucial part of physical and mental well-being. And if you are a yogi, breathwork (pranayama or breath control) is the gateway to enter a spiritual meditative state.

So, what exactly is breathwork? In short, breathwork is the practice of intentionally changing the breathing pattern to alter your state of being. For example, when you are stressed out from not finishing a project before its deadline, your breath pattern automatically speeds up as a natural biological response. On the contrary, when you are relaxing on the beach, your breath pattern is probably nice and long and deep. The exciting thing is that we can alter our breath patterns to change how we feel in order to live a life full of productivity and peace. If we are doing the right breathwork at the right time, it will boost energy, alleviate pain, clear the mind and transform our lives.

Understanding the Diaphragm and its Friends

The diaphragm is a divine breathing muscle that does the majority of the work when we are breathing. However, the diaphragm can’t do the magic without its dear friends, the transverse abdominis (TA), multifidus and pelvic floor muscles. To be able to take a full inhalation, imagine your belly is like a water balloon. The diaphragm moves down to give more space in the lungs, TA lengthens, pelvic floor muscles relax and descend to maintain a good pressure in the belly. To take a long exhalation, the diaphragm moves back up, TA contracts and pelvic floor muscles contract and move up too.

Here’s a breathwork routine you can do in the morning to help your mind wake up and get ready for the day!

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Do you have questions on diaphragmatic breathing or expanding your breathwork routine? Please feel free to give us a call!

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