by Jamie Clements, Breathwork Specialist and Visiting Master at AyurMa
Jamie Clements, Breathwork Specialist and Founder of ‘The Breath Space’
Breathwork seems to be everywhere in the wellness world right now, and you’d be forgiven for wondering why. After all, isn’t it just breathing? The short answer is yes, but there’s much more to it than that. In recent years, what’s been known in Eastern traditions for centuries about the power of the breath is finally starting to capture the attention of mainstream Western society – and we’re seeing the benefit.
We breathe over 20,000 times every single day. While the breath can be completely automatic and unconscious, bringing conscious awareness to just a few of those breaths every day can transform our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork is any way of using your breath to shift your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual state. This definition is broad, however, and it’s important that we explore the different areas of this world of practice. My approach is centred around Full Spectrum Breathwork. I work with my clients across three core areas for healing, connection and growth:
1. Functional Breathing – assessing and optimising one’s natural breathing pattern to support overall wellbeing.
2. Nervous System Regulation – using conscious breathing exercises as tools to shift the state of the nervous system, to either energise or relax.
3. Therapeutic and Transformational Breathwork – deep transcendent experiences, using the breath to access altered states of consciousness and process stored emotional energy.
The Key Benefits of Breathwork
- Reduced stress and anxiety
Slowing down and controlling your breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm your body and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Improved mental clarity
Breathwork can help increase oxygen flow to the brain, enhancing mental clarity, focus and productivity.
- Increased energy levels
By improving oxygen flow and reducing stress, breathwork boosts your energy levels and can improve overall physical performance.
- Better quality sleep
By helping to regulate your body & natural rhythms and promote relaxation, breathwork supports better quality sleep.
- Improved mood
Breathwork helps to promote relaxation and reduce stress, improving mood and emotional wellbeing and leading to a greater sense of happiness and fulfilment.
- Enhanced emotional wellbeing
Deeper modalities of breathwork can clear and release emotional blockages stored within the body and the nervous system.
What To Expect from a Therapeutic Breathwork Session
These deeper sessions with the breath feature a technique called Conscious Connected Breathing. This connected, cyclical breath creates an altered state of consciousness, through which we relate deeply to the body and subconscious mind. You’ll be lying down for the majority of the session, guided by words and music to move through various rounds of breathing, combined with breath retention. As you move through the session, you may experience physical sensations, emotional release, psychedelic rvisuals and deep meditative states that can be incredibly powerful.
Self-Care Tips: Getting Started with Breathwork at Home
A home breathwork practice doesn’t need to be complicated. A recent study by Stanford University (2023) found that five minutes of breathwork was more effective than mindfulness meditation when it comes to alleviating stress, improving mood and regulating the nervous system.
Here are my three top techniques for starting your breathwork journey:
1. Breathe Light, Slow and Deep
This is the foundation of healthy, functional breathing. Breathing light, slow and deep through the nose helps us to use the respiratory system in its full capacity, as well as effectively regulating the nervous system.
2. Extended Exhale Breathing
This is one of the most popular exercises to use for stress and anxiety. Making your exhale longer than your inhale lowers your heart rate and effectively moves your nervous system into its relaxation state, promoting a deep sense of calm.
3. The Physiological Sigh
This is one of the fastest and most effective techniques to help us reset to a place of balance. Take a deep inhale through the nose, followed by a second short inhale, before gently sighing out of the mouth. Repeat five times and notice the difference you feel.
When it comes to breathwork, the magic lies in its accessibility and simplicity. While you could argue that it is just breathing, it has the potential to become your most valuable. wellbeing tool.
Visiting Master Jamie Clements will be in residence at AyurMa at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru from September 16 to October 13, 2023. To view his bio or explore his Private and Group Therapeutic Breathwork sessions offered at AyurMa, click here.