Breathwork, or pranayama as it’s known in yoga, is the manipulation of the breath and consists of many different breathing techniques aimed to expand, extend, regulate and control the breath.
It can be a wonderful, natural and easy way of:
There is a direct link between the inhalation and the exaltation and our nervous system. The inhalation is linked to the branch of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) called the sympathetic nervous system, also known as ‘fight or flight.’ This branch of the ANS primes us for action: our heart rate increases, stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are released and our blood flows away from our internal organs and towards skeletal muscles.
On the other hand, the exhale is related to the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as ‘rest and digest.’ This branch of the ANS, which is primarily innervated by the vagus nerve, allows us to rest without being on high alert and promotes feeling calm and at ease. When we rest our heart rate slows and blood moves to the digestive system, allowing us to digest our food better.
Breathing Exercise: Close your eyes and find your pulse on your left wrist. Take a long, slow breath in, then take a long slow breath out. You might be able to notice your heart rate speed up slightly on the inhale, then slow down slightly on the exhale. Take a few rounds like this and see what you notice.
When all is well and balanced our nervous system should be able to glide between states of ease and mobilisation relatively easily however, modern living means that low levels of constant stress, sometimes referred to as chronic stress, continuously activates the sympathetic nervous system resulting in nervous system dysregulation. Nervous system dysregulation over a long period of time can contribute towards a range of physical and mental health issues including stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain.
Generally speaking we do not need to focus on our breath, as it is an automatic function however, it is also the only automatic function within the body that we can control. When we are able to harness the power of the breath we are able to shift our physiological state and promote balance where there is imbalance, which in turn can lead to better health.
Alice is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist, accredited by the British council of yoga therapy and registered with the Complementary and Natural Health Care Council. Alice has been practicing yoga since 2011 and also practices meditation and breathwork regularly, which she believes to be instrumental in managing her overall health and well-being.
Alice offers Yoga and Breathwork as a combined 1 hour session. Within this session you will receive a tailor made yoga practice to address your specific needs which will combine yoga postures, relaxation and meditation techniques as well as breath work techniques. Practicing yoga postures to stretch and mobilise the body before practicing breathing exercises can be advantageous, especially if there is tension in the physical body which might prevent one’s ability to breathe deeply. It can also help to cultivate more focus, concentration and awareness of the body which can help prime the mind, body and nervous system for the breath work practices.
In your session your practitioner might share the following yogic & non-yogic breath practices:
Each breathing practice has a different goal or intention, so your practitioner will suggestion working with the one that best suits you, depending on your needs.
In a Breathwork session you will be assessed by your practitioner and given the opportunity to discuss your goals and what areas of your health you would like to work on, or are concerned about.
You will then be guided through some gentle stretches in order to mobilise the body before being guided through specific breathing practices, tailored to your need. There are a variety of breathing practices within the yoga repertoire which can be harnessed for different effects on the mind-body and physiology. You will be advised on what time of day and for how long you should practice the breathwork, which will be reassessed in each session.
Initial session 45 minutes – £50
Follow up session 30 minutes – £40
Yoga & Breathwork 60 minutes – £60