One of my favorite benefits of breathwork is that it helps a TON with nervous system and emotional regulation. Regulating your emotions means you’re able to effectively manage and respond to emotional situations or stimuli. When your nervous system is regulated, you’re able to pause after feeling any given emotion and respond to it in a desirable way, vs. reacting to it. There’s a BIG difference between the ability to respond, vs. simply reacting out of emotion!
Reacting: flying off your rocker and letting your emotion run wild
Responding: A quick pause to gather your thoughts and feelings about the situation, then mindfully expressing it.
When we grow up in an environment that is emotionally disconnected or dysregulated, we often find emotions to be difficult to manage. You might notice overly intense emotions, impulsive behavior, or the inability to make decisions.
You might also feel out of control, stuck inside your own mind, or unable to label or communicate feelings or emotions.
The good news is, we have the power of the breath to help us regulate and feel more connected to ourselves, our bodies, and others.
Breathwork can help with emotional regulation in several ways, so let’s jump in..
Breathwork can help balance the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is responsible for regulating bodily functions. By consciously controlling your breath, you can shift from a state of stress to a state of calm and relaxation. Moral of the story: When the PNS is activated, you’re more likely to have a sense of balance and calm, which results in you successfully regulating your emotions.
This is one of my favorite ways that breathwork helps regulate emotions. Breathwork practices involve focusing attention on the breath (obviously), which enhances mindfulness and present-moment awareness. When you’re able to anchor yourself into the present moment, you feel more grounded and can observe your emotions without judgment. This heightened awareness can not only help you gain insight into your emotional patterns and triggers, but can also help you develop more intentional responses to challenging situations.
This can come in handy when you’re feeling worked up over an argument, or even in an emergency situation. In addition to that, creating that somatic awareness through the breath is one of the best things you can do for regulating emotions. Simply understand where they are showing up in your body and where tension is held. Which brings me to my next point.. Emotional release.
Breathwork can help release physical and emotional tension stored in the body. Deep, rhythmic breathing can activate the body’s natural relaxation response and encourage the release of muscular tension. This allows for a greater sense of ease and regulation!
Furthermore, by using a circular connected breathing pattern through the mouth, we can trigger the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). The SNS allows us to bring stuck energy, emotions, trauma, PTSD, etc. to the surface. You’re probably wondering why the heck we’d want to bring any sort of trauma to the surface, so let me share this:
The benefit of circular connected breathing through the mouth is that when we allow these emotions to come up and be processed, they are no longer being stored in our body. Remember, our body holds onto emotional pain just as much as our brain does. After the release, we can bring our bodies back into a state of calm by switching to nasal breaths. Essentially, we’re activating a stress response to release whatever is there, and then following that with controlled nasal breathing.
Conscious connected breathing like this can be intense, but extremely powerful for processing emotions. It’s helpful to have someone guide you through the technique and process so you know what to expect. Exploring a private guided breathwork session could be a great fit.
Certain breathing practices increase oxygen intake and circulation, delivering more oxygen to the brain and body. This increased oxygenation can enhance mental clarity, improve energy levels, and support emotional well-being.
Bonus points to this: it can even help with hangovers, headaches, and other physical pains, plus increase stamina and endurance 🤯
Overall, breathwork provides a practical tool for regulating emotions by promoting mind-body connection and enhancing self-awareness. There is endless research on how the breath can be used as a healing modality for both emotional and physical distress. Plus it’s free, it’s easy, and it’s always with you. For me personally, it’s been the number one go-to strategy for not only emotional regulation, but also anxiety and depression.
Keep in mind that regular practice can help develop emotional resilience and provide a means for self-soothing and self-care in times of emotional distress. The key here is consistency. Not much in this world is effective after one try or one session. So give it a shot, start slow, and experiment with different breath techniques to see what works for you.
If you are thinking about adding breathwork into your self-care and healing regimen, check out my private 1:1 breathwork sessions and my group classes. I always recommend working with a coach if you want to feel supported through your holistic healing journey.
Happy breathing! 🫁