How many times have we heard "just take a deep breath"? I am certain I will have said this many times myself. As with all matters concerned with navigating through our complex times, it can be a bit more complex than that!
There are a number of schools of thought that deal with complexity. From academic searches into how systems operate in a complex way, ecosystems studies in biology to yogic philosophy in Patanjali's Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita the ultimate summary is often...
Not the neat answer we'd like but undeniable that the context we are making decisions in is important.
The same goes for breath and breathwork practices. It can be plucked out as an individual practice that has been attributed to aiding and curing all manner of ailments, physical and mental health concerns but the research is still catching up.
Moving the body to support deeper breathing has been utilised in medicine for over a hundred years, breath has been part of mindfulness practices from all over the world for thousands of years and is certainly enjoying a trendy status in health and wellness of all types today.
We simply don't know if it is the breath or the focus that can provide calming effects as we always couple the breathwork with other technique. Often research studies into breathwork are entwined with yoga or other behavioural therapies and research is carried out by people that already believe in the benefits so it can be hard to remove bias from results.
That being said the beauty is that there are lots of different techniques that you can explore breath work. you can count breath, use visualisations, holding focus and external tracks like the 2 Bells coherent breathing track below. So you can experiment until you find something you like. If you find it works for you that's all you need.
Simple breath work exercises are relatively low risk and free to try so if they proved helpful for you in regaining focus and reducing stress that's great.
If you feel that the outcomes are more negative than positive then there is no evidence to suggest that you will benefit any further so don't feel pressure to continue. Feel comfortable in the knowledge that there are lots of other ways to bring similar health and wellbeing enhancing benefits.
You can press the play button below to hear the two bells practice we sometimes use in classes. Twenty minutes is a long time commitment so do feel free to set your own alarm.