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What is Breathwork?


Breathwork describes exercises that manipulate your breathing rate, focusing only on the breath. Most formal practices involve twenty to sixty minutes of sustained, rhythmic breathing techniques.

People who practice a typically hour-long conscious connected breathwork describe feeling tingling sensations throughout their body, feelings of clarity, alertness, increased mind-body connection and even emotional purging.

Breathwork affects every organ, function and system in the body, physical, psychological and symbolic, depending on the practice. I could write a book about the ways and the beneficial effects on the body.

But a simplified psychological example; our respiratory system has millions of pressure, chemical and stretch receptors sending messages to the brain that process and regulate our emotions, perceptions, judgement, thoughts and behaviours. We explain significant shifts in anxiety, depression and PTSD patients who practice breathwork.


You've probably read about the benefits of deep breathing. Deep breaths lower blood pressure and cortisol levels and increase the nervous system's parasympathetic response, but breathwork is slightly different. Conscious connected breathwork exerts even more impressive positive effects on the body and works in a diverse, almost opposite way.


Here's a little science behind the magic.


Autonomically as we all know, we take in oxygen during the inhale and exhale of CO2. With faster, connected breathing, we starve the body of CO2 as we would hyperventilating. Lack of the acidic molecule CO2 increases the alkaline P.H. in the blood. This state is known as respiratory alkalosis.

Breathwork increases muscle tone. When the blood becomes more alkaline, a few things happen.

First, calcium ions floating around in the blood are drawn in by large proteins in the blood called albumin. The body now experiences a short-term low-calcium state, firing off sensory and motor neurons. The artificially low blood calcium manifests in the neurological system. They cause tingling sensations, muscle contractions and increased muscle tone. The cramping of the hands or mouth commonly experienced is known as tetany.


Breathwork has an anti-inflammatory effect. Neurons in the autonomic nervous system fire more during hyperventilation, releasing epinephrine adrenaline.

A 2014 Yale School of Medicine study found that the epinephrine surge caused the innate immune system to increase its anti-inflammatory activity. Subjects who practised breathwork had alarmingly less inflammatory responses after exposure to bacterial toxins than those who didn't. The paper was the first in scientific literature to describe voluntary innate immune system activation.

Breathwork elevates your mood. The high feeling people experience with breathwork can be explained by hyperventilating respiratory alkalosis. Increased blood pH decreases oxygen delivery to tissues, known as the Bohr Effect. Within one minute of hyperventilation, the vessels in the brain constrict, reducing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain by 40%.



That's right, kids... you're getting high on your own supply with Breath Artistry.


What you should know before you breathe. Conscious, connected breathwork is safe with the support of a facilitator. It's well-tolerated despite any tetany. It makes you feel great for days and is worth a try for most people. Evidence that it alters the inflammatory response from our innate immune system makes it ideal for people with autoimmune diseases.


Tell your facilitator or your doctor before starting a breathwork practice. If you have a history of cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure, or are currently taking antipsychotic medications, the practitioner must know.

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