Benefits, Effects & Dangers of Shamanic Breathwork

Your breath is your life force. We often overlook its importance because it's an automatic process that we don't really pay attention to. However, it is integral to our mental, physical and spiritual health.

Shamanic breathwork is a pranayama breathwork technique which is said to accelerate your spiritual journey, unearth subconscious trauma and help reach altered states of consciousness. Here's what we'll cover;

    What is Shamanic Breathwork?

    Shamanic breathwork is a controlled and conscious breathing technique that uses circular breath to activate your energy centres or 7 chakras. It is a powerful modality for healing the mind and body and is associated with many mental and physical health benefits.

    When you practice shamanic breathwork your brain chemistry shifts to the theta brainwave state. This elicits deep relaxation allowing you to connect to parts of the subconscious mind that stores past trauma and brings you into an expanded awareness. 

    Shamanic Breathwork & the 7 Chakras 

    The 7 chakras are the main energy centres of the body. They run along the centre of the spine along the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the largest nerve in the body and is responsible for our brain stems communication with our major organs. It is our body's communication centre. As you practice shamanic breathwork you are stimulating the vagus nerve and activating the parasympathetic nervous system which can help to unearth emotion and past trauma.

    Each of the chakras is connected to a location of the body and a certain emotional frequency. For example, the sacral chakra, the second chakra, is located below the naval and stores emotion relating to sexuality and creativity. Someone who has a 'blocked' sacral chakra could feel shame about their sexuality, lack of sex drive or creative repression. Using this breathwork technique can help to activate the sacral chakra and unearth the trauma relating to this centre to show you "why" you feel this way.

    Shamanic Breathwork & Altered States of Consciousness

    As you activate your chakras in order, from the root chakra, to the sacral, solar plexus, heart and throat, you will reach the intuitive centre or the third eye chakra. The third eye chakra is located in the centre of the forehead, between the brows and is connected to the pineal gland.

    The pineal gland  is a pinecone shaped gland in the centre of the brain that has more blood flow than any other part of the body other than the kidneys. The cells inside the pineal gland are the same cells more-or-less than the cells of the eye and are wired into the visual cortex of the brain.

    When you practice shamanic breathwork your diaphragm acts like a pump that moves your cerebrospinal fluid up the spinal cord through the first 5 chakras and into the third eye, activating the pineal gland. Through shamanic breathwork, the pineal gland is activated and opened allowing you to “see” beyond the material world which can lead to altered states of consciousness. 

    Why is Breath so Important?

    Ever noticed that when you’re stressed or anxious that your breath shortens, you begin to pant and it’s almost as if you can’t fully inhale? What about when you're calm or relaxed, do you notice how your breath steadies and becomes slower and deeper? These breathing patterns set into motion a number of biological cascades signalling to the brain and body that you're either feeling threatened or safe.

    Shortened breath signals to the brain that you are unsafe, it triggers the autonomic nervous system, better known as the “fight or flight” response which sends your body into distress. Although this stress response is extremely important for life threatening situations, it wreaks havoc on the body when triggered at the wrong time.

    Unfortunately, it’s estimated that around 275 million people suffer from anxiety and stress disorders that trigger these effects. Everyday stresses of life are triggering this response and leading to immense stress on the body. This highlights the importance of focusing and deepening the breath.

    How to Do Shamanic Breathwork 

    Shamanic breathwork is a circular breathwork technique that is best practiced under the guidance of a shaman. We advise that you do some research and enlist a trained professional for the best results.
    We do understand that some of you would like to try this breathwork technique at home, we recommend the following for a safe experience. Let someone know that you are practicing this breathwork technique and to check in on you, if you are feeling lightheaded at any time please stop the practice. 

    1. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed (phone on silent) 
    2. Lie down flat on the floor with no pillows, ensuring that your spine is straight
    3. Close your eyes and settle into your space
    4. Clear your mind and focus all of your attention on the breath
    5. Remember this is a circular breathing technique with no pauses
    6. Breath in through the nose deeply
    7. Feel the breath enter the nose, then the belly, then the chest
    8. As soon as you have no more breath to inhale, exhale through the mouth like you’re blowing out a candle
    9. As soon as all the breath has left the body, immediately return to the inhale and so on
    10. Repeat

    Every inhale is oxygenating the brain and moving your cerebrospinal fluid up the spine, every exhale is expelling tension from the body. You may feel energy moving through your body, heat or a euphoric feeling after practicing this technique for an extended period of time.

    You may also unearth subconscious trauma, come to realisations about your suffering and feel the need to make noise or cry. Let it out. Practice this technique for as long as you’re comfortable, you will know when you’re starting to feel it. 

    Benefits of Shamanic Breathwork 

    The benefits of shamanic breathwork are numerous. When done correctly, this method can detoxify and energise the body, regulate the nervous system by activating the vagus nerve, strengthen your respiratory system, increase circulation and help to heal symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also help to:

    • Unearth past trauma
    • Work through negative blockages 
    • Unblock your chakras
    • Process your emotions
    • Create harmony and balance in your system 
    • Gain a deeper understanding of yourself
    • Feel more connected
    • Reawaken your creativity
    • Raise your consciousness 

    Shamanic Breathwork Dangers

    While this breathwork technique is used to heal, there are some associated dangers. We strongly advise practicing this technique under the guidance of a respected shaman.

    If you are a beginner and practicing this technique alone, please ensure that you inform someone before doing so. When practiced improperly, this breathwork technique can lead to an imbalance of oxygen levels, an overexposure to carbon dioxide and hyperventilation. When practiced properly, it has the power to unearth subconscious trauma that an individual may not be ready for and be quite emotionally taxing.

    If you’re thinking of trying this technique out, please take necessary precautions, ensure that you are in a safe space and have told someone that you are practicing before doing so. This technique is not advised for people who suffer from panic attacks, psychosis, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or epilepsy.

    If you have any underlying health concerns please ensure that you consult a physician before embarking on your shamanic breathwork journey.

    Final Thoughts 

    It's hard to grasp just how powerful conscious breathing can be. We take for granted how much this one automatic function can affect our mental and physical health.

    The shamanic breathwork technique will help to heal trauma in the body, subconscious blockages and lead to greater awareness. It's truly one of those things that is hard to grasp until you actually try it.

    For the best experience visit a shaman near you to experience the incredible effects of this breathwork technique.

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    Author Bio

    I am a meditation coach and practitioner who gets to spend their day transforming people's lives. I have a special interest in meditation, yoga and the chakras. I've seen countless lives changed through these practices and I intend to see some more!