What is the Conscious Connected Breath?
If you are familiar with breathwork, you may have heard and practiced conscious connected breath.
Conscious connected breath, also known as circular breathing, is a breathing technique consisting of connecting each of our inhales with each of our exhales while being totally present and conscious of our breath.
Connecting means that we will ensure that there is no pause, no break between our inhales and exhales. You can imagine that it is one breath in which the end of the inhale flows into the exhale, the end of the exhales merge seamlessly into the following inhales. It is a continuous and flowing breathing pattern.
Why do conscious connected breathing?
The benefits of this technique can be explained at body, mind and nervous system level.
By applying this technique, we are opening our breathing pattern and bringing more oxygen, which is the fundamental ingredient to produce the organic compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP), present in each of our cells, providing energy for many living processes such as muscle contraction. Due to wrong breathing habits, stress and undigested events of the past, our breathing has been limited. Our breathing muscles are constricted, preventing us from assimilating the optimal level of oxygen in our body and our blood. Breathing correctly offers also better absorption of vitamins and nutrients for more energy, better functioning of our entire body functions and better immunity.
Also, our lungs are our biggest organ of detoxification (70% of our toxins leave our body through these balloons), which means that the more our breath is open and deep, the more our lymphatic system is able to clean our body.
By breathing, we are inhaling oxygen and also life energy, prana. By breathing in a connected way, we are able to reconnect to the flow of life energy. After a session of conscious connected breathing, people feel more alive, more energy.
While being fully aware and one with each of our breaths, we are able to bypass the neo-cortex and our mind. This allows us to be in the present moment with what is arising in our body without going to the story. This explains why the breath has been used since the beginning of time in many Eastern traditions, such as Pranayama, as a practice for awakening. It is also central to many meditation traditions. This is why some people can experience non-ordinary states of consciousness or expanded states of consciousness beyond the limited and constricted mind. This allows us to see that we are not only our emotions and thoughts but a wider awareness, which is beyond time and space and permeated with peace and silence. Breathwork is a doorway to Presence and Being.
It is also interesting to know that we restrict our breath in order not to feel. The deeper we breathe, the more we feel. Due to past events, our body intelligence limited our breath in order not to feel overwhelmed and unsafe. The breath has the unique characteristic of being, at the same time, an automatic process controlled by our nervous system and also by our own will. This allows us to re-establish an open and fluid breathing pattern by retraining and opening our breath through techniques like conscious connected breath or simply belly breathing.
By breathing, we are also inducing movement in our body. The breath is our first and last movement. When we breathe, the air creates an expansion in our lungs, activates our diaphragm. This core movement propagates into all our organs, bones and muscular layers, to our skin. By breathing, we are opening this movement, which induces fluidity in our tensions, our muscular knots. I like the image of the breath as my internal massage. Each time I breathe I am offering a massage to all my organs, even my heart and digestive system, thanks to the movement of my diaphragm.
The power of the movement of the breath can be praised for physical tensions and chronic pains, which can also find their roots in old traumas still imprinted in our body. By breathing deeply, we are opening all our physical contractions, but we are also able to go at the root of the tensions. Behind strong tensions, there can be a strong emotion or trauma. Strong overwhelming past events and traumas are not only in our head, they are also reflected in our body tensions, and also in some physical ailments.
By doing conscious connected breath, we are accessing and feeling old repressed materials in our body and are activating our nervous system. By breathing deeper and faster, we trigger the fight and flight mode of our nervous system, which is very useful when we need some energy to do some sport, some mental focus, some adrenaline and hence, energy to do what we want. When we face danger, our nervous system automatically enters fight and flight mode for our survival. Then, once the stress and the threat is over, our nervous system switches on our rest and digest mode, a mode to recuperate, restore, regenerate and digest the experiences. This is the natural balanced process. But for different reasons, like fear, not enough support, repression, early age trauma...we may not have been able to release the tensions and instead, remained stuck in fight and flight or the freeze mode. Then our body is left with imprints, tensions and traumas, which can be found in our physical and mental tensions.
So here, with conscious connected breathing, we are awakening our fight and flight mode in order to complete the process, to release the tension out of our body and our mind and to be able to switch on the rest and digest mode again. By unwinding the tensions (it can be by breathing into the tensions but also shaking after an traumatic events like the animals do), we are giving the signal to our nervous system that we are safe and that it does not have to remain in this alert mode generating stress hormones and danger signals. It is important to know that these fight and flight and rest and digest activation are out of our control and triggered automatically by our body as long as the tensions have not been released.
This is a very simple explanation of the process to show you how breathwork and the conscious connected breath can also be an entry door to our nervous system and allow releases of tensions and traumas.
So, the conscious connected breath is the medicine for our body and the entry door to our expanded consciousness, to pure being, to the present moment and to our nervous system regulation. This is a way to Freedom in the body and mind and the Yoga of Being including our body and our humanity.
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