Is Breathwork right for you if you have high anxiety?
With the rise in popularity of breathing techniques it’s important to be an advocate for your own health. Whilst breathing seems simple it plays an integral role in many body functions due to its role in balancing blood pH. A change in breathing can cause a change in what the kidneys’ have to do to keep this balance also. In this way, if you have kidney problems it’s important to seek advice from a health professional before adjusting your breathing. This is just one example of simple health checks that might make a big difference.
Below I’ve listed a few more health considerations when looking to alter your breathing/ before recommending a technique to your friends.
People with claustrophobia, trauma around the airway (eg: near drowning, anaphylactic reactions or asthma) may not be the best candidates for mouth taping. Zephyr Movement doesn’t recommend this method as they have had clients develop panic and/or nightmares in these conditions. Please remember there are other ways to train nasal breathing.
Preliminary evidence indicates that people with panic disorders may benefit from carbon dioxide (CO2) tolerance training.
Hyperventilation breathing techniques such as Wim Hoff stimulate release of adrenaline. This might be useful for someone with depression. Perhaps if you already feel hypervigilant or ‘on’ all the time this may be too strong or provide the right CO2 environment for panic attacks or anxiety.
Performing physiological sighs, box breathing and other ‘techniques’ have been shown to facilitate quick relaxation. This is great and may be helpful alongside longer term breathing education due to the short term changes in acid/base balance.
Within 3 days post conception, women transition to hyperventilation as a natural strategy to ensure oxygen is delivered to the foetus. Particularly, within the first trimester when establishing a pregnancy it may be of benefit to gain advice before performing certain breathing techniques. This is just because a change in mum’s physiology can change the way the foetus gets oxygen too.
People with chronic respiratory conditions such as; Bronchiectasis, Emphysema, Interstitial lung disease and cystic fibrosis have different physiology. Due to the permanent changes in lung mechanics it is important to seek individualised advice.
Professionals, such as a doctor or physiotherapist, who understands how this affects your acid/base balance and gas exchange may help in guiding you safely toward or away from your safest techniques.
Neurological injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, strokes or traumatic brain injuries can affect the way the diaphragm works and therefore, can impact on a person’s lung function. Please seek professional advice before selecting your breathing technique as it can again change your physiology.
Degenerative conditions such as motor neuron disease and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) drastically change the biomechanics of breathing, lung function and physiology. Again, please seek professional advice before selecting your breathing technique as this will change over time given the degenerative nature.
Zephyr Movement’s Breathing Basics Online Program offers a gentle approach to breathing better. It is a form of gentle carbon dioxide tolerance training (no mouth taping). Our number one rule is to only do what is comfortable for you. There is an option to be guided with 30min telehealth sessions with Tessa for a more personalised approach. If you have done a health scan and want to gently ease into a breathing practice, click here to sign up today.