The conscious connected breathwork method (primary breath technique applied during my sessions) has many different effects on our body, mind and spirit and can be described as universally beneficial. But why? What actually happens in us when we do breathwork?
Detoxification the body
When we are born, we know how to take full use of the respiratory system and breathe deeply and fully – unfortunately as we grow older, we lose this superpower and often engage unconsciously in shallow breathing and this is not optimal.
Due the up and downward movement of the diaphragm increasing our blood flow, 70 % of the body's toxins are removed through the breath. The remaining 30 % is removed through sweat and the digestive system. When we don't consciously breathe deeply, our bodies have to work “overtime” to push out toxins. So, deep and full breaths support our bodies to detoxify.
Physical & biochemical effects
The fundamentals or breathwork are:
1. breath awareness, and
2. engaging in conscious breathing patterns
When we breathe consciously and deeply for a longer period, we consume plenty of oxygen, rising our blood pH levels and thus making our blood more alkaline. It causes our carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to drop and this means that the ratio of oxygen and CO2 shifts in the body. The ratio of oxygen to CO2 impacts critical functions in the body, like the autonomic nervous system (balancing between sympathetic and parasympathetic branches), the heart variability rate (HVR), as well as levels of muscle tension and the production of stress hormones. All of these processes may be positively affected during a breathwork session.
Due to the physical and biochemical effects of breathwork, symptoms such as light-headedness, increase in heartbeat, numbing, tingling, shaking and tetany (manifesting in claw-like shape of hands, ankles or jaw) are rather common. Even though these symptoms are similar to what someone hyperventilating might experience, it's different, as during breathwork we are always aiming for deep, connected breaths, allowing our nervous system to not uncontrollably go into fight/fight or anxiety and survival mode, which in turn is characteristic for hyperventilation.
When we do breathwork and get rid of excess CO2, replacing it with a fresh supply of oxygen, our oxygenated blood carries and absorbs nutrition and vitamins more efficiently. This improves immunity and raises stamina as well as energy levels and supports our organ functions, including the digestive system.
As breathwork activates the nervous system, it stimulates the vagus nerve. This nerve carries essential information between the brain, body and organs and mandates the way our body responds when we're relaxed and resting. By frequently engaging in breathwork, we support our bodies in training the vagus nerve, which helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, as well as strengthens brain and gut function.
Deep breathing releases endorphins - the feel-good hormones that some call “natural painkillers”.
Brainwave activity & subconscious reprogramming
One reason why breathwork is so transformational, is that during conscious deep breathing sessions we are able to move from Beta brainwaves (our analytical, goal-oriented presence, where also stress and anxiety occur) to Alpha and Theta. The Alpha brainwave state is connected to being in a relaxed, meditative state where positive thinking stems from and we can experience pleasure and comfort, as well as improve our learning abilities here. The Theta wave state is associated with deep sleep and meditation, creativity and hypnotic states.
When we shift between brainwaves, we are able to temporarily turn off the prefrontal cortex (the rational part of the brain). When we specifically access the Theta brainwave state, we may receive intuitive insights, so called “aha-moments”. This is also the state where the subconscious mind may be reprogrammed.
The subconscious mind is the place that dictates our thoughts and beliefs, decision-making and behaviours. If we're looking to provoke lasting changes to these functions, the subconscious mind acts as the driver. It's not uncommon to receive important insights, gain new perspective or find resolutions during a breathwork session and when these are accepted by the subconscious mind and reprogramming takes place, it can lead to profound healing and transformation.
Neuroscientific research suggests that brainwaves are contagious (a process called “brain-to-brain synchrony”), meaning our brainwaves can sync with others who are in the same room with us. When someone drops deep into Alpha or Theta, it supports others to also get there faster. This could at least partly explain why some people have deeper breath journeys when breathing as part of a group, rather than in 1-1 sessions.
Our bodies have incredible healing abilities and breathwork provides support for these abilities to shine. The deep and slightly faster breathing we do during conscious connected breathwork sessions can allow blocked energy, suppressed by the subconscious mind, that is associated with traumatic memories to be activated and released.
Cultivating awareness is important, but our conscious minds account only for ca. 5 % of our brain power. Due to this, consciously accepting for instance that we are safe and worthy will provoke lasting shifts only after also the subconscious mind has acknowledged these facts.
We could say that breathwork helps us to feel our feelings and emotions fully and to release emotional baggage, often leaving us feeling lighter afterwards. Over time, breathwork can support us in coming back to our unique wholeness, as we mend and bring back together lost parts of us. This has evident effects on our levels of self-confidence. Through the self-exploration that the breath offers, we learn how to be more compassionate towards ourselves and others.
Breathwork has various benefits and effects on the body, mind and spirit – often times we don't even grasp what exactly happened, but we end up feeling lighter annd more joyful after a session. Many experience a sense of clarity and feel relaxed and at ease.
Because the conscious connected breath may provoke even intense emotional and/or physical releases, there are specific contraindications in place:
Detached retina or glaucoma
When we breathe in a faster rhythm, pressure in the head and neck may occur. Conscious connected breathing is not advised for participants with detached retina or glaucoma!
Diagnosed brain or abdomen aneurism
Enhanced pressure within blood vessels can be dangerous, if we've experienced any damage to our brain or abdomen. Conscious connected breathing is not advised for participants with diagnosed brain or abdomen aneurisms!
When exhaling, we release carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the body. A specific balance of CO2 is vital to conserve the pH of our blood and oxygen levels. It's recommended that participants with cardio vascular diseases consult their doctor before engaging in conscious connected breathing!
Bodily functions, like breathing are regulated by the autonomic nervous system – seizures may interrupt this system. The conscious connected breath may trigger bracing patterns of seizures. t's recommeded that participants with epilepsy cosult their docotr before engaging in conscious connected breathing!
Diagnosed bipolar or schizophrenia
As we stimulate changes in the blood's pH levels and brain chemistry during breathwork, it may be overwhelming without prior similar experience for participants who have bipolar desease or schizophrenia. Also, because the conscious connected breath may release stress and trauma, participants may require more or specific kind of support during or after the practice. It's recommended that participants with diagnosed bipolar or schizophrenia connsult their doctor before engaging in conscious connected breathing!
Uncontrolled diabetes or thyroid conditions
Our blood sugar levels may be affected by diaphragmatic breathing – due to this it's unclear how the conscious connected breathwork could impact a participant with uncontrollable blood sugar levels. It's recommended that participants with uncontrollable diabetes and/or thyroid conditions consult their doctor before doing a conscious connected breathwork session!
High blood pressure
During a conscious connected breathwork session overall blood pressure is increased, because fast breathing activates the sympathetic nervous system, which fastens our heart rate. Slow, deep breathing, on the other hand, slows down the heart rate, dilates blood vessels and reduces overall blood pressure. Participants with high blood pressure are advised to consult their doctor before taking part in a conscious connected breathwork session.
The level of CO2 in our lungs may get low during a conscious connected breathwork session. During pregnancy, our lung capacity is reduced and CO2 levels are already low. Breathwork can be a very supportive tool during pregnancy, but only a gentle nose breath and/or other type of supportive breath practices besides the conscious connected breathwork method are advised for pregnant participants.
I am Cassandra Zaeske, a multi-passionate soul on a mission to contribute something meaningful to this world. I am curious about people and healing and want to explore different channels to live out my purpose – to shine my light on others' paths and support people around me to find more joy and wellbeing in life.
Outside of breathwork, I work part-time as a People Practices Partner, as well as a Body Balance (a mixture of Yoga, Pilates and Tai chi) instructor. I found breathwork during my sabbatical in Italy in 2020 and conscious breathing has since then been a part of my daily life, supporting me in being someone more confident, healthy and inspired.
As an instructor I am gentle, professional and dedicated. My character is a wild mix of creativity and intellect, depth and lightness; I am a singer, writer and creator who enjoys geeking out on science, theory and research.
My breathwork practice gives me the opportunity to combine my passions and gifts, which truly excites me.
I'm looking forward to connecting with you!
GET IN TOUCH
During every conscious connected breathwork session it's important to listen to the body and go with its terms – the breather is always in charge and can decide what pace and level of intensity to go for! Mouth/nose breathing, length of inhale and exhale, rhythm and the pace of the breath determine the intensity of the session.
I always provide detailed instructions and guidance before, during and after the breathwork session, including going through the contraindications to ensure the safety of all participants. If the breathers are comfortable with it, I may support them also by touch during the work.
Conscious connected breathwork sessions are done to the rhythm of music, either lying down or in a seated position. I also sing during the breathwork sessions.
I trained as a Breathwork Facilitator (400 hr Certified Facilitator Level 1 Training 2021, accredited by the Global Professional Breathwork Alliance and American Association of Drugless Practitioners) with – check out their pages for amazing free events and resources!
Breathwork is not a medical treatment and it doesn't exclude any medical treatments. If you have any questions concerning your health, please consult your doctor.
Are you looking for a wellbeing practice for yourself? Planning a wellness event for your team at work or a hen party? Get in touch with me and we'll create an amazing experience matching all your needs!