Terms like breathwork and self regulation tend to be most commonplace in mental health, yoga practices, and other somatic and holistic healing spaces, however, they are concepts that are slowly entering more mainstream knowledge of self-care. Breathwork, in general, might inspire thoughts of decreasing anxiety, but there can also be benefits of breathwork in the bedroom. On this episode of Get Naked with Dr. Kate, Dr. Kate and Dr. Cat Meyer delve into the various benefits of breathwork and how it can support self regulation strategies, help you stay calm, and enhance mindfulness whether in yoga or everyday life.
What is Breathwork & How Does it Help with Self Regulation
Breathwork refers to various techniques and practices that involve conscious control of the breath. It is often used as a form of therapeutic intervention or a self regulation tool to improve physical, mental, emotional, and even sexual well-being. Self regulation is the ability to attune to yourself emotionally emotional regulation skills.
Breathwork techniques can vary, but they typically involve specific patterns, rhythms, and depths of breathing.
The way breathwork helps with self-regulation is through its impact on the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which regulates our body’s physiological responses. The ANS consists of two branches: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response, which activates during times of stress or danger, while the PNS promotes relaxation and restoration.
By intentionally and mindfully altering your breathing patterns, you can influence the balance between the SNS and the PNS, shifting your body from a state of stress and arousal to one of calm and relaxation, reducing the intensity of negative emotions and thought patterns.
Breathwork & Self Regulation Strategies
Below are some emotional regulation strategies that involve breathwork and feel more calm and connected in the moment. Keep in mind that these can be improved over time and might feel unnatural or uncomfortable at first, if emotional regulation is a new experience for you.
Activating the PNS
Techniques such as deep diaphragmatic breathing, slow inhalation, and extended exhalation stimulate the PNS, triggering a relaxation response. This leads to a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension, promoting a sense of calm and reducing stress.
Enhancing body-mind connection
Building emotional regulation by focusing on the breath can bring attention to the present moment and anchor awareness in the body via practicing mindfulness. This mindfulness aspect helps promote ability to manage emotions as well as body-mind connection. It can allow individuals to check in and respond to their thoughts, feelings, and sensations with greater clarity, which can be a very helpful and healthy coping skill to have.
Managing emotional states
Breathwork can influence emotional states by modulating the body’s physiological responses. For example, specific breathing techniques like rhythmic or alternate nostril breathing can help regulate emotions by balancing the activity of the brain’s emotional centers and promoting a sense of emotional stability.
Overall, breathwork techniques provide a practical tool to self-regulate and manage stress and reduce anxiety. They can be incorporated into various therapeutic approaches, mindfulness practices, or as practices to promote long term overall well-being and personal growth. While learning strategies on your own is possible, it can be helpful to learn breathwork techniques from trained practitioners or under their guidance to ensure safe and effective practice.
Dr. Cat Meyer, PsyD, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex, trauma, and ketamine-assisted therapy (KAP), author, yoga teacher, and international speaker dedicated to evolving the relationship we have surrounding sexuality and our bodies.
Dr. Cat is the founder of SexLoveYoga.com, an online platform integrating various schools of thought including science, tantra, yoga, psychedelic therapy, and psychology designed to help people create a deeply fulfilling, prosperous relational and sexual life.
As an expert and published researcher on the topic of sexual health, Dr. Cat sees clients in her private practice office in Beverly Hills and leads workshops, lectures, and retreats internationally. Dr. Cat is the host of the podcasts Eat.Play.Sex and Erotically Wasted, co-founder of Un.done women’s sensual yoga experience.
She is also part of the Breathwork app Othership, a breathing App that helps you regulate your emotions and nervous system through guided breathwork.
Dr. Kate talks with Dr. Cat about the many advantages of breathwork. They talk about how Dr. Cat first felt free, calm and safe while practicing Yoga. It was at that moment that she realized she could feel something different than the intense anxiety + tension that shook her body on a daily basis.
This inspired her lifelong dedication to discovering more about the voice of her body claiming the fullest spectrum of erotic expression. She talks about her mission to help others become more “undone” so that they can fully claim their most raw + authentic erotic self — whatever that looks like for them.
From Tantra to BDSM to sex + trauma psychology, psychedelics, yoga, + the modern sciences, Dr. Cat sees healing from a holistic lens and they talk about the effects each can have.
Dr. Cat’s approach is inclusive of all expressions + integrates the mind, body, spirit, + the energy that moves through it all.