As certified breathwork teacher and trainer (and my go-to healer in Mexico) Xavier Olazabal says, breathwork is a method of deep self-exploration and a form of spiritual development. The purpose of breathwork is to use breathing as medicine, healing, and cultivating self-knowledge in a safe, respectful, and therapeutic context.
Breathwork is also a form of active meditation. By consciously focusing on your breath, says breathwork teacher Gwen Dittmar, “The practice gives the brain something to focus on, so you can bypass the mental level of consciousness and drop into a deeper state of consciousness, where healing, spirit, and love reside.”
Overall, the benefits are vast, from regulating our nervous system, improving our sleep, balancing blood pressure, and allowing certain feel-good chemicals in our brain to circulate, like dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin, according to Olazabal.
Plus, the possibility of more self-awareness, alignment to your inner knowing, as well as a better understanding of life’s challenges is inevitable. As the breath opens meridians and channels and aligns your body with its inherent and universal energy, healing happens. There is no need to think, process, or figure anything out after a session. And to know you can receive clarity and peace without thinking, Dittmar says, is revelatory.
That said, because breathwork can result in intense physical and emotional release, it is not advised for people with a history of cardiovascular disease, severe mental illness, or seizure disorders to participate without consulting a doctor they trust. Aside from that, it is a safe practice for anyone to try.
And if you’re worried about doing it wrong, you can’t. As Xavier says, the medicine will always give us exactly what we need at the right time. By quieting the mind, we are able to connect to our true essence and the body, then operate and do exactly what the body knows best in order to heal.