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Green Leaves

Common Occurrences During Breathwork 

Physical Sensations which may occur during Breathwork

 

Certain breathwork techniques, especially those involving unregulated and intense breathing patterns, can cause individuals to experience a range of physical sensations. Whilst breathwork is a very beneficial practice for most, you should always inform yourself about what you may experience during the practice, and take a look at our section on ‘the safety of breathwork’ should you have any concerns about whether breathwork is suitable for you. 

 

Below you will find a detailed explanation about the common physical sensations which you may experience during your practice.  Remember, each time you practice breathwork what you experience may differ and specific sensations can vary depending on the technique practiced and the individual's response. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increased Heart Rate

 

Practices involving up-regulated breathwork often leads to an increase in heart rate. This is due to the body receiving a surge of oxygen which stimulates the cardiovascular system and causes the heart to beat faster.

 

Dizziness or lightheadedness

 

The rapid intake of oxygen and the elimination of excess carbon dioxide can alter blood gas levels. This can sometimes lead to sensations of dizziness or lightheadedness. It's important to approach rapid breathwork gradually and listen to your body to avoid overexertion.

 

Tingling or Numbness

 

Sensations of tingling or numbness during breathwork, referred to as Tetany, are a very common physical sensations during breathwork. Tetany is commonly felt in the hands, arms and legs, but can be experienced anywhere in the body. These sensations are temporary and caused by rapid breathing patterns which can alter the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. Once regular breathing patterns are established tetany will subside. If sensations of numbness or tingling ever feel too overwhelming during your practice, just allow your breath to return to its natural rhythm and they will subside. 

 

Increased Body Temperature

 

Up-regulated breathwork can generate heat in the body due to increased energy expenditure and metabolic activity. Some individuals may experience a rise in body temperature as a result, and it is not uncommon to experience sweating. 

 

Feeling very cold

 

During up-regulated breathwork a decrease in the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood may occur. This can lead to a constriction of blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the extremities and resulting in a sensation of coldness. Although the experience of feeling cold may seem quite intense during the practice, it will subside once natural breathing is resumed and blood gas levels return to normal. 

 

Shaking

 

Shaking during breathwork is common and not generally a cause for concern. During breathwork practices a significant amount of energy can be generated within the body which can cause sensations of trembling or shaking, especially when the energy generated encounters areas of tension. Shaking can also be a good sign that a natural release of pent up energy is occurring, and that stress and emotional holding patterns may be subsiding.

 

Yawning

 

Yawning during breathwork is a very normal response and can even be beneficial for the body and mind. It helps regulate oxygen levels, release tension, and promotes relaxation. If you find yourself yawning frequently during breathwork, embrace it as a natural part of the process and continue with your practice.

 

Increased Energy and Alertness

 

The surge of oxygen during rapid breathwork can lead to increased energy levels and a heightened sense of alertness. This can be accompanied by a feeling of invigoration and mental clarity. Always remember that each person is different and therefore it is important to listen to your body, respect your limits, and stop or slow down if you experience any discomfort or adverse effects during your breathwork practice. 

 

Emotional Release During Breathwork 

 

Emotional release during breathwork refers to the process of experiencing and releasing stored emotions or unresolved feelings during the practice. Breathwork techniques can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and create a safe space for you to explore and process your emotions. You can experience anything from feelings of joy and elation to frustration and sadness or anything in between during the practice! 

 

Whatever it is, it’s important to embrace what arises and let it flow. You are actively releasing repressed emotions and therefore there doesn’t have to be a specific conscious reason that you are experiencing it. 

 

Below you will find a detailed explanation of how and why emotional release can occur during breathwork. 

 

Activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System 

 

Breathwork practices, particularly those that involve slow, deep, and rhythmic breathing, activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This activation promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and creates an environment conducive to emotional release.

The Mind-Body Connection

 

Breathwork encourages individuals to connect with their bodies and cultivate present-moment awareness, something which many of us often lack. This heightened awareness can bring attention to areas of tension, discomfort, or stored emotions within the body. By consciously breathing into these areas, individuals can access and release the associated emotions.

 

Releasing Suppressed Emotions

 

Throughout life, we may suppress or repress certain emotions due to societal expectations, past traumas, or conditioning. Breathwork provides a safe and non-judgmental space for these suppressed emotions to surface and be processed. As individuals engage in deep breathing and relaxation, these emotions can rise to the surface, allowing for acknowledgment, acceptance, and release.

 

Activation of the Limbic System

 

The limbic system, which is involved in processing emotions, memories, and emotional responses, can be activated during breathwork. By regulating the breath and activating the limbic system, breathwork practices can access and release deep-seated emotions or unresolved experiences.

 

Catharsis and Energetic Shifts

 

Breathwork can create a cathartic release, allowing individuals to release emotional energy that has been stored within the body. This release can manifest as crying, laughter, shouting, or other forms of emotional expression. As the breathwork practice progresses, individuals may experience shifts in their energetic state, feeling lighter, more peaceful, or having a greater sense of emotional well-being.

 

It's important to approach emotional release during breathwork with compassion, patience, and self-care. The process can be intense and may bring up a range of emotions. If you find that you experience intense emotions, we always recommend seeking the advice of a therapist who can provide support and help navigate any challenging emotions that arise if need be. 


 

Vivid Imagery and Hallucinations 

 

Seeing images and hallucinations during breathwork can occur in some individuals, particularly when engaging in certain types of breathwork practices, such as up-regulated breathwork techniques or other intense and prolonged techniques. 

Generally having imagery or hallucinations during your breathwork practice are no cause for concern and many find them very enjoyable!

 

Below you will find an explanation of how and why visuals and hallucinations may arise during breathwork. 

 

Rapid Breathing causing changes

 

Some breathwork techniques involve rapid and deep breathing, which can lead to changes in blood levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. These changes can affect the pH balance and alter the functioning of the central nervous system, potentially leading to hallucinatory experiences.

 

Altered States of Consciousness

 

Breathwork practices can induce altered states of consciousness. By modifying the breathing pattern and increasing oxygen intake, breathwork can trigger a shift in brainwave activity, leading to a more relaxed or altered state. Often during breathwork you will enter the Theta or Alpha brainwave states which are the same states you enter just before falling asleep. In these states, individuals may become more susceptible to hallucinations or vivid imagery.

 

Activation of the Limbic System 

 

The limbic system, which is involved in emotional processing and memory, can be activated during breathwork. As emotions and memories surface, individuals may experience hallucinatory images or sensations related to their personal history or subconscious mind.

 

Release of Subconscious Material

 

Breathwork practices can access and release deeply stored emotions, memories, and subconscious material. As these materials are brought to the surface, they may manifest as hallucinations or vivid imagery during the practice.

 

Again, it’s worth noting that hallucinations during breathwork are not necessarily negative or problematic. They can be part of the transformative and introspective aspects of the practice. However, it's essential to approach hallucinations with caution and ensure that the breathwork is practiced in a safe manner. 

 

We also always advise seeking the help of a therapist who can help guide you through the practice and provide assistance  if you feel overwhelmed. Moreover, if you have a history of mental health conditions or are currently taking antipsychotic medications, we advice speaking to your healthcare provider about which breathwork techniques are suitable for you.

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