Breathwork refers to any type of breathing exercise or technique, where you focus on the conscious awareness of the inhale and the exhale. People around the world are practicing breathwork for a variety of reasons such as; sports performance, performance arts, healthcare, relaxation, transformational healing and trauma work.
Mayura Life focuses on breathing exercises which improve relaxation (stress coping), focus, creativity and energy.
In order to understand this fully, we need to go a bit deeper into our understanding of the Autonomic Nervous system, the Parasympathetic (PNS) and the Sympathetic (SNS) Nervous Systems. Known as the Rest and Digest and Fight or Flight modes.
When the body is in a Sympathetic Nervous (SNS) state, the heart rate and blood pressure rises, and the breath speeds up. This happens because a surge of hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) are released into our system because our body believes that we are in a fight or flight situation.
While this is very useful for; focus, concentration, logical thinking and energy, it is not healthy to remain in this state for prolonged periods of time.
Symptoms such as insomnia, digestive issues, irritable behaviour, inflammation and compromised immune function are just some of the results of the human body being “stuck” in the Sympathetic Nervous state. Unfortunately stress, physical tension, and inadequate breathing habits are keeping us locked in this SNS state. Leading us to exhaustion, which in turn is leading us to make poor lifestyle choices to keep us going (sugar, coffee and alcohol).
As I have mentioned before, there is nothing wrong with being in a SNS state, but there is something wrong if we are constantly in this state. Our body is literally forgetting how to relax without a glass of wine. We may not even realise that we are constantly in this state, but ask yourself what meds do you take, do you sleep well, are you exhausted?
I relied on stress to keep myself motivated, leaving everything to the last minute in order to enjoy getting it done with the “natural high” of the adrenalin. Not realising that I was:
- Taking antacids to keep the heartburn at bay
- Taking the anti-depressants to help with the lows after the adrenalised highs
- Taking meds for concentration to help when things became really hectic and my brain felt too scattered to focus on one thing.
It was only when I had to start taking other medicines to help with the shakes that I was getting from taking the anti-depressants or the focus meds (not sure which one was the culprit) that I decided that I did not want to be on this path, so I slowly weaned myself off the medication.
I stayed on the antacids for many more years, believing that it was just my body that was unable to cope with the food I fed it. I have since learnt that it is not only the food which I eat that impacts my heartburn, but it is also the anxiety that I felt and the stress that my body was under which led my system to increase the acidity levels.
While I am telling you my story, it by no means means that you should go off your meds and start breathwork. What you should do is start Breathwork, stick to it for at least 2 months and then talk to your doctor to re-evaluate your medication requirements.
Long term effects of stress, and remaining in the SNS state are; hypertension, heart disease, depression, insomnia, anxiety, autoimmune disease, IBS, chronic painful conditions and musculoskeletal disorders are just some of the chronic conditions that could happen.
As scary as this all sounds, there is an incredible simplistic way to avoid it, it is actually scary how simple it is!
We need to re-teach our body how to relax. We need to re-learn how to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) the Rest and Digest state.
This is where the Vagus nerve comes in, it is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves connecting the brain to the vocal cords, lungs, heart, digestive system, pancreas and liver. Not only does it send messages from the brain to the body, but it also sends messages from the body back to the brain. Ultimately it is the “body-mind” connector.
This nerve is a Parasympathetic nerve, when stimulated it sends a strong message to the body and brain letting us know that it is safe to relax, this is the PNS state.
To activate the PNS, it is as simple as taking a few slow deep breaths, filling the lungs with air and then exhaling slowly. This extended exhale is what stimulates the Vagus nerve, which in turn slows down the heart rate, lowers the blood pressure, activates the digestive system and leaves you feeling relaxed and calm. Being in this state allows your body to go into recovery and healing mode.
The ideal state to be in for creative projects, thinking outside of the box and building amicable relationships.
If you can activate the PNS with just a few deep breaths, why don’t we do it more often. Well simply because we did not know about this simple tool, or we simply forget….regularly!
Mayura Life teaches you many different techniques to improve your breath intelligence, teaching you methods to activate your PNS and SNS at will.
So that you can decide in each situation of life if you need the boost of analytical focussed energy, or the calm and creative energy, or a balance of both. You will learn how to adapt your breath to suit your current state.
While there are many different applications for breath work, Mayura Life is committed to helping you find a balance in life, a place where you are able to use your breath to help you through stressful situations and return to a naturally relaxed state immediately after.
If you would like to understand more of what your breath is capable of achieving, industry leaders such as Wim Hof, Dan Brulé, Patrick McKeown, James Nestor, Stephen Elliot, Jim Leonard and Phil Laut are just some of the leading Breathwork pioneers of our time that are teaching techniques that are truly inspirational.
Research and Case studies
Scientific research conducted over recent years shows how breathwork is directly linked to the Vagal nerve, and how the vagal nerve is directly linked to the PNS and SNS;
Breath of Life: The Respiratory Vagal Stimulation Model of Contemplative Activity
The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults
Vagal Tank Theory: The Three Rs of Cardiac Vagal Control Functioning – Resting, Reactivity, and Recovery
Effects of Various Prāṇāyāma on Cardiovascular and Autonomic Variables
Understanding the stress response