What is the difference between pranayama and conscious connected breathwork?
With a yogic background, your mind automatically tunes into pranayama when you hear the word breathwork, and while there are many parallels, conscious connected breathwork is very different to pranayama. They are both used as intimate, conscious practices, and they both have their place in our lives for different reasons.
The Similarities Between Pranayama And Breathwork
The parallels cannot be denied. There are many similarities between these beautiful practices:
- Both are mindful practices that draw awareness to the breath.
- Both are equally beneficial in their own unique ways.
- Both are practices that allow us to move from our mind chatter into the body by switching off the monkey mind or prefrontal cortex.
- Both leave you feeling rejuvenated and clear in heart and mind.
The Differences Between Pranayama And Breathwork
This is where you will start to see how each practice serves a very specific purpose:
- Breathwork or conscious connected breath (CCB) is a flowing, circular breath that has no pauses between the inhale and the exhale.
- Certain pranayama practices involve a lot of breath holds, control, and pauses, CCB does not.
- CCB floods the body with oxygen, which can lead to feelings of altered states, not unlike feelings induced with plant medicine, except that nothing is ingested… it is purely your own breath that guides you there.
- CCB is usually done for extended periods of time (30 minutes upwards) under the guidance of a facilitator. The facilitator is there to help you release and surrender to the experience through verbal coaching and intuitive touch (in-person sessions).
- CCB is usually done to a curated playlist to help evoke an emotional response, and it is usually done lying down. Pranayama is usually seated.
- CCB activates the sympathetic nervous system, which helps breathers dive deep into trauma, repetitive conditioning, and emotional challenges. Under the guidance of the facilitator, this can help bring awareness or healing to these stuck parts.
The Magic Found In Both Practices
Much like breathwork sessions activate the sympathetic nervous system, pranayama activates the rest and digest state, which is your parasympathetic nervous system. This is amazing after a stressful day or to prepare the body for a mindful day ahead. There is a time and place for both and they’re both incredibly beneficial and complementary practices.
Contrary to popular belief, and a few ongoing jokes, breathwork is not simply learning how to breathe better. This is one tiny, infinitesimal component. It is a practice that allows us to see parts of ourselves that we hide by going deep into our bodies, using the breath as our compass. It’s a soul journey navigated by our very own inherent abilities. Breathing! And it is freaking magical!
If you’re curious about breathwork, I run monthly breathes both in-person (in Falmouth, UK) and online. you can always get all the details about breathwork journeys here.