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We're here to answer: Is Breathwork Healthy?

There are a lot of questions I hear lately, and one that stands out is ‘is breathwork healthy?’ Another is ‘how often can I safely practice breathwork?’ The answer is yes to the first and a little more complicated to the second.

Breathwork is exactly what it sounds like, breath and work. Breathwork is the conscious use of your breath. Your breath, with you every moment of your life is an automatic unconscious mechanism that is happening with or without your help. You obviously don’t have to think about your breath in order to stay alive.

The animal in you has breathing in its programming.

So what’s the value of a conscious breath versus an unconscious breath?

Let’s start by considering that without your breath you would not be alive. You can live without food for a long time. There are people who have reported fasting for over 40 days. You can go less time without water, but oxygen is the only thing you need all the time. Anywhere from three to ten minutes without oxygen and you cannot stay alive. This means that your breath is the most life giving force you have.

The Chinese call this force “qi”. If food from the earth gives nourishment and energy then the oxygen you breathe is the food for your connection to the spiritual world from where you came. Consider that your inhale was the first thing you did when you were born making breath life itself. 

is breathwork healthy
is breathwork healthy

Let’s start by considering that without your breath you would not be alive. You can live without food for a long time. There are people who have reported fasting for over 40 days. You can go less time without water, but oxygen is the only thing you need all the time. Anywhere from three to ten minutes without oxygen and you cannot stay alive. This means that your breath is the most life giving force you have.

The Chinese call this force “qi”. If food from the earth gives nourishment and energy then the oxygen you breathe is the food for your connection to the spiritual world from where you came. Consider that your inhale was the first thing you did when you were born making breath life itself. 

Breath is life

Breath is life therefore, breath is God. Breathing is the single most powerful energy you have to live and yet we hardly think about it except when reminded.

There is nothing more unifying than your breath. The word health comes from the word heal which means to make whole. Breathing does this because it completes a connection between your animal life and your spiritual life.

While you mostly don’t think about your breath it is the same with your life. Your breath is both like an animal that does not think about it’s own awareness, and unlike animals, you can think about your path and your destiny. You can take a conscious breath anytime you want in the same way you can consider the choices you make in your life and what effect they are having on the quality of that life. Animals cannot do that. 

This power of choice is unique to us. At our best, our choices in life are an attempt to make us more whole, therefore conscious use of the breath is a perfect mirror for the conscious use of life.

is breathwork healthy

Forget about it and it happens to you, think about it and you can direct it. The in-breath takes you inside yourself toward that inner unconscious world. The power of this is to know the world that you are unaware of. The exhale then brings that awareness and energy back into the conscious world for you to use in any way you want.

In other words, conscious use of the breath connects you between in and out, life and death, conscious and unconscious, animal and spirit. Breathing is truly the most unifying activity in the process of becoming whole.

Your breath also is the most available, free medicine you can use to help yourself become healthy. From here it gets a little more complicated. What does it mean to do breathwork? What kinds of practices are there? How often should I do them? Can I do them on my own?

breathing is truly the most unifying activity in the process of becoming whole

Over a lifetime of teaching and guiding others through breathwork practices and now specifically only through Effiji Breathwork I have explored and answered these questions with people hundreds of times. It is interesting, though, how in the last several years these questions have arisen exponentially as breathwork has begun to hit the mainstream. 

Clearly the pressures of our rapidly changing time have made people search for less mainstream ways to help themselves. The newer seekers searching for “life hacks” have become quite popular putting breathwork into the mainstream zeitgeist.

Let’s start by breaking down breathwork into its components : 

· the nose and mouth
· the left and right
· the inhale and exhale
· holding the breath
· the length of time in any of these stations

Even without a guide you could experiment by trying anything and it would cause some effect. You could plug your right nostril and breathe in 6 counts through your left, hold it for 2 seconds and breathe out your mouth. I just made that up but you can make up practices too, especially when you get to know the property of each component.

I could go on about this but my interest and expertise lies in one particular type of mouth breathing practice that was taught to me in 1990 and I developed into what I call “Effiji breath”. Effiji belongs to the mouth breathing tradition which stands out as being quite different in that its intention is less about a life-hack (where you do it for 10 minutes a day and then feel more grounded or energized) and more about overall transformation. 

It is not to say that Effiji isn’t a life hack or other breathwork practices do not facilitate transformation. It’s just that Effiji's fundamental intention is to access deeply hidden core programming that creates the way you breathe (when you're not thinking about it). Initially it’s not meant to “feel good”. It’s meant to free you of blocks so the inherent life force or “Qi” that will give you energy, vitality and clarity becomes available to you especially when you again, stop thinking about your breath.

We have unconscious processes, patterns and programming that determine how we are breathing when we don’t think about it. Since you are doing it all day everyday it’s influence on what you think and how healthy your body is cannot be understated. As I said before, breath is fuel for being alive and connected to spirit. When your breathing is not optimal, you are taking something that could be your greatest ally and not gain any benefit from it. Or worse cause you to lose energy and vitality.

There are two parts to the healing power of Effiji breathwork. The first is to give you access to your unconscious so you can release the energy blocks that are a result of the programming. The second is in freeing this energy to retrain your breathing apparatus to do its correct job, even when you are no longer doing conscious breathing.

Effiji breath is only done as a guided process and the practice is always one hour. The reasons for this have to do with the power and force of what is being released during a session. Mouth breathing, especially when it's rigorous, will surprise you with how quickly you will make contact with unused life-force-energy you didn’t know was there.

Men often compare it to doing psychedelic drugs or plant medicine and women often compare it to orgasm. Yes, I know it sounds like the perfect sales pitch but we can’t guarantee that we know exactly what will arise when you do the practice, we just know that we want it to be safe, healthy and freeing. 

When the session is complete there will be no doubt that you will feel the “qi”. You will be calm, relaxed, connected and feeling whole. So if feeling whole is a goal then Effiji breath is a practice that will get you there.

how much breathwork can i do?

This is where you should take an inventory of what you are looking for and how fast you want to get there. Practicing Effiji Breath is healthy but the process of change requires a person to be able to integrate those changes into their life. The shape of everyone’s life is different. If you have an 80 hour work week in a high paying corporate job, requiring to fly around the world (pre 2020), then doing it everyday would simply turn your life upside down and make it hard to function.

We all have responsibilities to people, children, jobs but we also have a responsibility to ourselves to be healthy. It is the balance between the two that should determine how much and how often. This is where your facilitator can be very helpful. Their experience of both giving and receiving can help you see what is the right recipe for your success.

Each time you do it there is a change that occurs. Not every single block or mind program will be released in a single session but what remains will be there the next time you come back. You don’t go backward in this practice because what has been cleared and learned cannot be reinstalled and unlearned. On the other hand, if you want water out of the garden hose, turning up the pressure will create more flow. So doing it infrequently will show you what's possible and give you deep relaxation, but it won’t create a transformation that comes from doing it on a regular basis.

so... is breathwork healthy?

It is my experience from working with people that breathwork is ALWAYS healthy. There is no “too much” as long as you are open to the changes that come from it. Those changes can be both tangible and subtle. 

Tangible in that you notice that your relationships may feel less fraught. You may find yourself feeling more of an urgency to take care of unfinished projects, business, conversations. Sometimes there is a mysterious process after the breath where people start contacting you out of the blue or situations that seem stuck suddenly find resolution. It is most subtle in that there will be more connection to the deeper part of yourself, which can make you more emotional and less focused on outcomes and more aware of how each moment feels. 

None of this is good nor bad. 

Feeling is feeling. 

Your relationship with it is what makes it positive or negative in your outlook. If you don’t mind more feeling and less thinking, then you can do a lot of Effiji Breath and go through the roller coaster of pent up feeling that has laid there for years. 

Immersing for periods and then taking breaks to let the experiences integrate will support both freedom and being grounded. 

I have, however, never seen anyone become unhealthy from doing Effiji breath. Again, it’s only about intensity and the speed of transformation that can be challenging. There is no effect negatively on your health.

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