Frequently asked questions about breathwork and its benefits
If you are new to breathwork, we recommend that you read these questions and answers about breathwork so you have a good foundation and understanding for the powerful healing practice you are embarking on. And if you have any additional questions, please reach out to us, we’d love to hear from you!
Frequency is named after the book Frequency: The Power of Personal Vibration, by Penney Peirce. Peirce writes; “Inside us and everywhere around us, life is vibrating. In fact, each of us has a personal vibration that accurately communicates who we are to the world and helps shape our reality. Frequency shows us how to feel our personal vibration or "home frequency," improve it, and stabilize it as our new normal. A simple shift in frequency can change depression to peace, anger to stillness, and fear to enthusiasm. Learning to manage our own energy state can put us on track with our destiny--the life we're built for. You have a choice about the way you feel and what your life can be.”
Breathwork is one of the fastest and most potent ways to raise our energy, our emotional state, and our consciousness. Our breathwork classes are designed to tune your frequency to a state of love, vibrant health and to expand your consciousness.
That’s what we’re here for! :)
Frequency offers live breathwork classes from heart led teachers, seven days a week. Come breathe with us. With each class, you’ll get more familiar, comfortable and confident with the practice and you’ll also feel amazing. You can take our online classes from the comfort of your home or come to our physical studio in NYC or our pop-ups in Miami, Vegas and Los Angeles. We recommend becoming a member and developing an ongoing breathwork practice that will support you on your journey. Our in person classes are held in a geodesic dome in Chelsea. It’s a magical space with 360’ visuals and sound.
Breathwork is the practice of conscious rhythmic breathing. Breathwork brings an awareness to our breath. Our breath is our life force, our energy, our spirit, our essence, our consciousness. It is said that how we breathe is how we live. And so, to live life to its fullest, we must breathe to our fullest.
Breathing reconnects us to ourselves and the collective, to our inner nature and to mother nature. Our breath is the bridge between our conscious and subconscious minds. It is one of the most powerful, direct and immediate methods to access your body’s innate intelligence to heal itself.
Breathwork offers the chance for personal growth, awakening and transformation through improved mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Because breathwork literally raises our energy — our frequency — it is the key therapeutic modality we use at Frequency in our journey into healing and wholeness.
In fact, in the seminal book The Healing Power of the Breath, Dr. Richard Brown, MD and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, MD write;
“By changing the patterns of breathing it is possible to restore balance to stress response systems, calm an agitated mind, relieve symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), improve physical health and endurance, elevate performance, and enhance relationships.”
Breathwork is critical to our mental and emotional health because how we breathe directly informs how we feel. If we want to feel good, then we need to learn the art of breathing. Breathwork pioneer Dan Brule, author of the book Just Breathe, sums it up perfectly when he states;
“Every psychological state, every emotional state, every physiological state has a corresponding or associated breathing pattern. The way we breathe when we are peaceful and calm is different than the way we breathe when we are angry and upset.
Yes, Breathwork works simultaneously on our emotional body and physical body. The benefits of breathwork are limitless, and range from mental, emotional, physical to energetic and spiritual health and growth. By learning Breathwork, you learn how to shift your energy, or your frequency, and uplevel into new levels of consciousness, awareness and health. It’s healing on a cellular level. Master Breathwork teacher Dan Brule writes;
When your state changes, your breathing pattern changes. And it’s a two-way street: when you change your breathing pattern, you change your state! We can use the breath to hack into our nervous system, our brain, our immune system. We can use our breath to choose our state!
Yes, this is true, breathwork certainly can be psychedelic. This often depends on the length of the session you’re doing and what type of breathwork it is. Certain types of breathwork evoke psychedelic experiences more than others. To learn more about the psychedelic effects of Breathwork, head on over to this article on the similarities between plant medicine, psychedelics and breathwork. Many of the Frequency classes do create an expanded state of consciousness and deep self-love and are described by our members as very similar to both plant medicine and psychedelics.
Is it our desire that breathwork be accessible to everyone. If you can’t afford our digital or in person membership, please email us and we can provide a sliding scale. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each session will feel new and different. It depends on the energy that you are walking in with and the class you are participating in. This is where the magic of breathwork happens. It has a way of serving up whatever it is that’s ready to be served up and you are ready to feel and to heal.
We may have some breathwork experiences that feel very physical : tingling in the hands, feet and lips are common. Full body buzzing is a possibility as well as a feeling of weightlessness or bodylessness. Other experiences may be on the emotional side, big feelings may come up and show up as tears or laughter. At times our experience may be ripe with creative insight and clarity, and other times, deeply restful, peaceful and calm. Sometimes we may feel a sense of ego dissolution and oneness with the universe, similar to plant medicine and psychedelics.
And to be honest here, sometimes we may have practices that can feel like you are just bumping up against a boundary or a wall, not able to get that big release we may have been hoping for, and that’s ok. Your healing is not linear and it will continue to unfold exactly as it needs to.
Let’s start with the Physiological Explanation of Tetany:
Tingling or cramping up of the hands, also known as tetany, is both temporary and common in breathwork. Breathwork shifts the balance between the body’s carbon dioxide and oxygen levels, prompting changes in our physiology. When we exhale, we release CO2. By breathing deeper and faster, as we do in breathwork, our CO2 levels lower; this results in less oxygen being released into the bloodstream, tissues, and vital organs, which makes the blood pH more alkaline. Lower levels of CO2 coupled with an increase in blood pH levels is what produces tetany. While tetany can be physically intense, it’s very safe and the physical symptoms dissipate after the breathwork session.
There’s also a Psycho-Spiritual explanation which is identified by Dr. Stanislav Grof, in his writing Physical Manifestations of Emotional Disorders: Observations From The Study of Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness:
“What seems to happen is that faster breathing creates a biochemical situation in the body that facilitates emergence of old emotional and physical tensions [including tetany] associated with unresolved psychological and physical traumas… this situation actually represents a unique opportunity for healing. What emerges under these circumstances is unconscious material with strong emotional charge that is most ready for processing.”
Because Breathwork has incredible benefits to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, it covers all of you! Breathwork reduces stress and anxiety, boosts your mood, alkalizes your blood, strengthens your immune system and lung strength, and enhances concentration and energy and improves sleep and digestion. Here’s a handy list of the top 10 benefits of Breathwork. In fact, journalist James Nestor, author of the praised book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, goes so far as to write;
“The greatest indicator of life span wasn’t genetics, diet, or the amount of daily exercise, as many had suspected. It was lung capacity.”
Breathwork is an active meditation. We give our minds a task: to focus on our breath. Given a task, our minds are often much easier to calm. In this way, many folks who have had a hard time letting go of the monkey mind and feeling like they can meditate are happily surprised that they can get there with breathwork. If you’re keen to learn more about why a breathwork practice might be a better fit for you over meditation, we recommend this article that explains why you might want to choose breathwork as your new mindfulness practice.
Yes, absolutely. Not only can breathwork relieve stress and anxiety, but it does so just in the length of one session. Unlike meditation, which often doesn’t give people immediate relief because they’re struggling to get out of their busy mind and thoughts, our members continue to report that they feel immediate relief from stress, anxiety and overthinking in their breathwork sessions. This is because breathwork is an active and physical mindfulness practice, which both gives the mind and body something to focus on (the breath) and also stimulates the vagus nerve, which has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety by shifting the nervous system out of fight or flight.
But it doesn’t stop there. Dr. Stan Grof, who wrote the book Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy, states that;
“Breathwork is a very effective tool in treating a broad range of emotional disorders – depression, aggressive and self destructive tendencies, problems with self-image and self-esteem, various phobias, migraine headaches, asthma, and others.”
Breathwork can help with burnout by bringing the body and mind into homeostasis and offering deeply restorative peace and calm. It can also serve as a natural energy boost anytime we need it and unlike coffee, doesn’t affect our sleep or tax our adrenals.
Oftentimes our breathwork practice can offer us insight into what is not working externally for us and what we need to shift or let go of in our lives.
James Nestor writes;
The fastest way to build a better, stronger health foundation is to start a breathwork practice. It’s one of the fastest ways to reduce anxiety, stress, and the buildup of feelings that can overwhelm and cause burnout.”
Science is finally catching up with Breathwork.
Our breath, or "prana" is what keeps us alive. Yet so often, we go through the day shallow breathing, which keeps our mind and body in a state of anxiety and stress. Breathwork, the process of deep rhythmic breathing, stimulates the vagus nerve, which moves us out of “fight or flight” and into the parasympathetic nervous system, and improves Heart Rate Variability. But it doesn’t end there, James Nestor, author of Breathe, The New Science of a Lost Art, writes;
“Many modern maladies - anxiety, asthma, attention deficit disorder, psoriasis, snoring and autoimmune disease and more - can either be reduced or reversed by changing how we inhale and exhale.”
Breathwork teacher Dan Brule confirms the critical nature of the breath in relationship to our health in his book Just Breathe:
“How we breathe matters. When we allow our breathing system to decline, we set ourselves up for every kind of illness and ailment. In fact, more than 100 diseases are caused, triggered, or exacerbated by unconscious, unhealthy breathing patterns.”
We’re now seeing the benefits and science of breathwork proven by the likes of Harvard University Medical School and Johns Hopkins. Additionally, well regarded health experts like Dave Asprey, Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss are now talking about the power of Breathwork to improve physical health and emotional well-being.
Yes, breathwork helps improve sleep in two ways, by stimulating and toning the vagus nerve.
Deep slow diaphragmatic breathing can help stimulate the vagus nerve and lower stress responses which keep us in a more alert state. When stimulated, the nerve sends a signal to our bodies that we are safe and so we are able to shift into the parasympathetic nervous system, out of “fight or flight.” We can call this the “rest and digest” state of deep relaxation, and in this state, sleep comes more easily.
The second way that breathwork helps with sleep is by toning the vagus nerve. A well toned vagus nerve offers us the ability to switch between sleep and waking easily. To be fully awake and energized during the day, and find deep sleep and restoration at night.
You can do breathwork daily. In fact, the more you do it, the greater the benefits. Also, the more you practice breathwork, the deeper you go into your healing journey. Whether you’re healing on a physical, mental, emotional, energetic or spiritual level, breathwork is deeply therapeutic and can help you release trauma, pain and addictions that you might have been holding for years.
It is not advised to do Breathwork if you have a history of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma, retinal detachment, aneurysms, or recent surgery without speaking to your doctor. Additionally, Breathwork is not advised for people with seizure disorders. Pregnant women are advised against doing the Two Part Circular Breathwork.
Breathwork can support the digestive process by stimulating and increasing blood flow through the digestive tract, improving intestinal activity, and reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of bloating and gas. Breathwork also creates a positive feedback loop by lowering stress levels; this reduces cortisol, which lessens gut inflammation. Stress causes blood to travel from the gut to the larger muscles in the body, compromising blood flow to the digestive system; this impedes digestion, increases inflammation, and weakens immune system functioning. Additionally, stress can influence what nutrients the intestines absorb, leading to bloating; cripple the intestinal barrier, allowing gut bacteria to enter the body; and alter the rate at which food moves through the body, impacting elimination. Lastly, on an emotional level, because you’re reducing your overall stress and anxiety levels when you practice breathwork, you set yourself up to make better food choices, and thus, are less likely to overeat and/or eat the wrong foods that trigger digestion issues in the first place!
A Frequency Breathwork session will always start with a Frequency check to see how we are feeling and where we are at in the present moment. We’ll set intentions and get right into the active breathing. Sometimes we breathe sitting up, sometimes laying down. Your teacher will guide you through the breath pattern. There is always time at the end to rest and often time for us to share our experience out-loud with the group. This part is always optional.
One of the cool things about breathwork is that the body rebalances itself pretty quickly. You can really do whatever you want after your practice. That said, we recommend moving slowly, taking some time to write or to sit in stillness. This can help us integrate the shifts that took place during the class. We also recommend drinking plenty of water to help flush any toxins out of the body.
Yes, breathing is responsible for getting 70% of toxins out of the body each day. The other 30% is through bladder and bowels. Breathwork helps us activate the full cleansing potential of our breath by taking deeper and bigger breaths.
Come exactly as you are. You don’t need a fancy set up or any special equipment for breathwork at home. We do recommend having a space where you can comfortably sit up (pillows are great to sit on!) and lay down. If you have a few extra minutes before class we might also suggest you do something really sweet for yourself, like lighting a candle, opening a window or putting on cozy socks. If you’re coming to our studio, wear something loose fitting and comfortable.
Penney Peirce, our beloved spiritual advisor, defines the following terms in her book, Frequency, The Power of Personal Vibration:
The vibration of one’s soul as it expresses through the body, emotions, and mind; a frequency of awareness and energy that conveys the most accurate experience of heaven on earth as possible.
The number of waves that pass through a specific point in a certain period of time; the rate of occurrence of anything
The underlying dynamics of the way energy and consciousness function, especially after wisdom has been gained in the transformation process, which can be applied to improve the quality of daily life and the achievement of enlightenment.
The process of attuning one's personal vibration, whether consciously or unconsciously, to the vibration of another person for the purpose of communication.
The process of weeding out people, situations, and opportunities with vibrations that don't match your home frequency, releasing them, and replacing them with people, situations, and opportunities that further your soul-expression.
The overall vibration that radiates from a person in any given moment; a fluctuating frequency that is a combination of the various contracted or expanded states of one's body, emotions and thoughts.
The subtle energy around and through the physical body comprising an individual's pattern of etheric, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy and awareness, the radiance of one's personal vibration.
Sit or lay comfortably. Breathe consciously with the circle. Repeat. Feel the shift.