In the world of work, under the weight of responsibilities and pressure in this period of economic crisis, stress and anxiety are affecting more and more employees, particularly in job change period. HR managers, office managers or chief happiness officers are multiplying initiatives to improve the well-being of employees: yoga, combat sports session, osteopath, massage session, game console & table football, etc.
A concept is gaining more and more popularity: breathwork (in English), or breathing meditation (in French). But concretely, what is breathing meditation? How does it work? What are the benefits for stressed people? Everything you need to know about this method of meditation.
What is breathwork, or breathing meditation?
Breathwork, or breathing meditation, is a method of breath control that attempts to induce an altered state of consciousness and affect physical and mental health. It derives from various spiritual and pre-scientific traditions around the world and was developed in the West by Wilhelm Reich. According to Jack Raso, pranayama is described by its proponents as a multifaceted “healing technique” characterized by programmed breathing. It is said to be designed to bring about physical, emotional and spiritual changes. Such a process is believed to “eliminate” restrictive programs “stored” in the mind and body and increase the ability to process more energy.
Breath Focus, also known as “mindful breathing,” is a breathing technique that involves meditating to create positive feelings. Users should focus on images, words or phrases that promote happiness or relaxation. This exercise can also be practiced in case of need, when one undergoes an additional workload and that it causes us a peak of stress.
Pranayama is all the rage right now, but it’s nothing new. Breathing exercises have been around for thousands of years and have their roots in the practice of yoga. The basic idea of pranayama is to release toxins and stress on the exhale and nourish the body and mind on the inhale.
How does breath meditation work?
If you have trouble meditating, focusing on your breath can be a great way to get used to some basics. This method can help you calm the mind and relieve stress, while allowing you to release stagnant physical energy or dormant trauma that you were unaware of. Breathing exercises can also be used to energize or lift your spirits. The flexibility offered by the different exercises makes breathing exercises very accessible for many people.
Meditation is widely known to help people relax, but some people may find it difficult to use. Breathwork practice can help people experience immediate and significant relief from stress. This is because these exercises are designed to alter your breathing in ways that help your body overcome cycles of stress. This, in turn, will allow you to feel really relaxed when you’re done exercising.
Like meditation, breathing is often practiced for its many benefits on physical and mental health, for example: they are therefore excellent complementary exercises.
What are the benefits for stressed people?
It is known that reducing stress improves physical and mental health, which is confirmed by numerous studies. Reducing stress hormone levels helps the body restore homeostasis after a traumatic event. Reducing stress can also reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other conditions associated with long-term exposure to significant pressure.
You should know that chronic stress is associated with increased inflammation in the body, which has been linked to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stress, depression and a weakened immune system. Indeed, active breathing has been shown to reduce levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers in saliva.
When the body’s stress response is chronically and unnecessarily activated, it can lead to obesity, heart disease and inflammation…and be cause of burnout. Therefore, researchers have developed breathing techniques to counter the stress response. Slow, controlled breathing activates the process, which slows down and relaxes the body. Several studies have linked deep breathing techniques to lower heart rate. Practitioners help their patients achieve this state of calm when needed, whether during a stressful event or as part of a daily health regimen.
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Breathwork: definition of anti-stress breathing meditation
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