Why daily breathwork is all we need
Breathwork is the foundation of wellbeing, according to specialist Phil Kayumba
At 17 years old, Phil Kayumba found yoga as an outlet for his anxiety, whilst living in India as the child of a diplomat. His anxiety was such that he found decision making difficult and lacked connection with himself.
He continued to practice on moving to Australia for high school, where he later settled as a refugee from Rwanda.
“The connection to breathwork transformed my own experiences and wellbeing, both physically and emotionally,’’ Phil, breath expert for wellbeing app Benefit pocket says.
“The moment I started to notice the way my breath had an effect on me, I thought breathwork was something worth maintaining and delving deeper into to learn more about it. I haven’t been disappointed since.”
A Q&A with Phil
How simple can breathwork be?
The first aim is to observe a breath that comes in and out of the nose; to keep our lips sealed; and avoid breathing through our mouth.
Secondly, it’s to draw your attention to the diaphragm and observe its utilisation – the expansion of your belly as you breath in, and the contraction of your belly as you breath out. Then, it’s bringing an awareness to the way we use the muscles in our face and allowing them to soften; things like our tongue, jaw, lips, forehead and eyelids.
The fundamentals components of basic breathing are diaphragm, awareness and nostril-only breathing. Anything else are simple additions you can add for further complexity.
What’s the best 60 second breathwork exercise?
Simple and effective breathwork requires 30 to 60 seconds. A longer period of time can feel protracted and difficult for a lot of people starting out because when you first start to focus on your diaphragm, it can bring up a sense of discomfort. Like any muscle with exercise, it needs training until the discomfort fades. So, providing people with attainable amounts of time when it comes to breathwork is important – you want them to feel the benefits without feeling perturbed.
An easy way is to take just 60 seconds to observe the way you breathe in your belly (or rather the way you expand your belly while you breathe in) and how you contract and suck the belly in as you breathe out. Try to maintain a soft palette with your tongue, lips and jaw but keep the mouth closed so that you can breathe exclusively through the nose.
Then, just try to observe the way you hold your muscles in your face and scan the rest of the body to try and soften things like your shoulders; your sit bones; your buttocks; and your whole body – to sink into whatever you might be sitting, lying or standing on.
Breathwork does not require complex or perfect settings. It can be done at the height of your most destabilizing experience, and it can only take 30 to 60 seconds of nasal and diaphragmatic breathing to change the game for you.
WHAT ARE SOME RESULTS TO EXPECT?
I’ve had a lot of people inform me that they go through a deeper connection to self, learning more about themselves through moments of breath reflection. When you reflect on your breathing, you notice your nervous system calm down, and as a result, you’re able to process and digest your own life and the way you see it. This has been very common feedback that I’ve received for those I’ve held space for.
The feedback is often good but there are also times where people end up having difficult scenarios come up through breathwork. Breathwork can bring to the surface what you have tried to avoid because our breathing is impeded by our lifestyles, our history and our traumas. But by being connected to our breath, we can start to unravel and unveil those things, and hopefully, find a resolution.
Is breathwork the same as meditation?
No, it is not. Breathwork results in meditation. So, you cannot achieve a state of meditation without a good basis of breathwork. All those who have managed to land into deep states of meditation have had to do so by noticing and understanding their breathing.
When you connect to your breathing, you’re able to lower your nervous system and change it from your sympathetic nervous system (which is our flight or fight mode) to your parasympathetic nervous system (which is our state of rest and digest).
Once your breathwork has brought your nervous system to that rest and digest state, then your body can be more conducive to meditation and other higher states of being. It is difficult to achieve this if your breathing is restricted.
So, they are different but breathwork is essential to become more aware of your meditative state. It can’t be done the other way around.
What is your general breathwork advice or philosophy?
At its core, my general breathwork advice or philosophy is:
- Make it attainable
- Make it simple (don’t make it a grand experience)
- Make it routine, so that it becomes a habit
If your breath becomes the biggest priority in your life, everything you do from that point onwards will be much more fulfilling; mainly because you will be in unison with the universe around you. Make breathwork part of your passive routine – don’t set specific moments for your breathwork, just integrate it into aspects and periods of your day. For example, when you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or waiting in traffic.
5 ways breathwork will enhance your wellbeing
- It gives you a better connection to your internal workings.
- It allows you to regulate your emotions and nervous system.
- It permits one to observe how to deal with and reflect on dysregulation and its many forms – anxiety, sadness, depression, jealous, inadequacy, etc.
- It provides better physical health – observing things change in your physical health and being more mindful of your surroundings.
- It connects people. When you breath in unison with people, you are able to create a tangible energy that unifies and connects.