We breathe a lot. It happens automatically. It’s estimated that a regular person would breathe around 22,000 times a day. However, most of us don’t breathe correctly. Sometimes we breathe too fast, too slow or use the wrong parts of our body.
Breathing isn’t just essential to stay alive. The way we breathe affects our mental, physical and spiritual health. Unfortunately, because the way of the modern world is so fast-paced and we get consumed in the chaos of daily life, we forget how to breathe properly.
Enter stage right – somatic breathwork. A new solution to help us live a better life.
What is somatic breathwork?
Somatic breathwork, at its core, revolves around harnessing the power and wonder of the respiratory system – and especially the diaphragm. It works a lot like meditation.
The diaphragm is responsible for orchestrating the dance of inhalation and exhalation. Unlike conventional breathing practices, somatic breathwork places a distinct emphasis on the expansion of the rib cage during inhalation.
Picture this: as you inhale, the diaphragm contracts and the intercostal muscles of the ribs relax. This creates a unique rhythm that taps into the body’s innate ability to self-regulate.
The essence of somatic breathwork lies in fostering a deep connection between the breath and the body.
It’s about turning inward, becoming attuned to the subtle nuances of each breath and allowing this conscious engagement to bring about a profound sense of balance.
Benefits of somatic breathwork?
The benefits of somatic breathing extend far beyond the mechanical act of drawing in and releasing air (a process which keeps you simply alive).
By consciously focusing on the expansion of the rib cage and fully engaging the diaphragm, you can potentially enjoy the following:
Relax and reduce your stress
Somatic breathwork is well-renowned for its ability to induce a state of deep relaxation.
As your breath becomes a deliberate and conscious act, stress levels diminish, and the nervous system shifts into a more calming state.
The rhythmic flow of breath serves as a powerful antidote to the pressures of modern life.
Improve your respiratory function
Somatic breathwork promotes a fuller and more expansive use of the respiratory system.
The deliberate expansion of the rib cage through diaphragmatic breathing encourages the lungs to take in more oxygen, improving respiratory efficiency and capacity.
This, in turn, can lead to increased vitality and overall well-being.
Become more self-aware
The mindful engagement with the breath during somatic breathing cultivates a heightened sense of self-awareness.
By turning attention inward, you can better understand the subtle connections between their breath, emotions and physical sensations.
This self-awareness becomes a valuable tool for navigating the complexities of daily life.
Somatic breathwork is not only a physical practice but a profound emotional journey.
The intentional and conscious breath has the capacity to release emotional tension stored in the body.
Ultimately, this all has the potential to promote your emotional well-being and foster a greater sense of inner peace.
How to Do Somatic Breathwork: 5 Easy Steps
Follow these five easy steps to seamlessly integrate this practice into your daily routine:
Step 1: Posture is key
Whether you choose to sit on the floor or in a chair, maintaining the right posture is fundamental.
Sit with alertness and relaxation. Ensure your back is free from the backrest. This position sets the stage for a mindful and connected breathing experience.
Step 2: Rib cage focus
Place your hands on the sides of your ribs, specifically resting them on the side ribs rather than the hips.
This serves as a reminder and guide for the intended focus—expanding the rib cage with each breath.
Step 3: Inhale with intent
As you begin to inhale, preferably through your nose, direct the breath into the sides of your ribs.
Feel the expansion occurring not just in the front but outward to the sides.
Allow the breath to fill the spaces between the ribs, creating a sense of fullness and openness.
Step 4: Exhale and rise
Consciously sit taller as you exhale. Use the breath as a dynamic force to elevate your seated posture.
Feel the interplay between inhalation and exhalation, where each breath serves as a guide to sit more upright and grounded.
Step 5: Imaginary presence
Release your hands from their position on the ribs, but pretend that they are still there.
Continue the rhythmic breathing, envisioning the expansion and contraction of your rib cage.
The imaginary hands serve as a visual cue, allowing you to sustain the connection between breath and body even when the physical touch is removed.
As you progress through these steps, embrace the ebb and flow of inhalation and exhalation. Allow the rhythm to guide you towards a state of serenity.
When to avoid performing somatic breathwork
There are some circumstances where may need to put off engaging in somatic breathwork until you have consulted a doctor.
These include circumstances such as having respiratory conditions, severe heart issues, being pregnant or breastfeeding, taking certain medications, or recently experiencing injuries or head surgery.
We always recommend receiving personalised advice from a medical professional before engaging in controlled breathwork.
Learn somatic breathing from the breathwork professionals
Incorporating somatic breathwork into your daily life can empower you to take control of your body and health.
However, it isn’t always easy to go through the journey alone.
Consider learning somatic breathing from the breathwork experts here at Breathless Expeditions.
Enrolling on our breathwork classes can provide tailored guidance for your body and ongoing support on your path to improved respiratory health.