Breathwork and Lymphatic Drainage Therapy: A Perfect Partnership

Individually, breathwork and lymphatic drainage therapy are powerful healing practices. Together, they form a dynamic partnership, intensifying their ability to heal and rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit.

Lymphatic drainage therapy gently removes blocks and constraints to lymph flow in the body. Breathwork deeply engages the diaphragm muscle—the lymphatic engine—enhancing lymph flow while promoting self-discovery and healing.

When combined, whether starting with drainage and following with breathwork or vice versa, the effects can be transformational both physically and mentally.

What is Breathwork?

Breathwork is any conscious, controlled breathing exercise or technique intended for therapeutic effect. The importance of the breath and breathwork for healing body, mind, and spirit has ancient roots, present across cultures and continents .

  • Ayurveda: India’s ancient tradition teaches 49 yogic breathing techniques for cultivating specific mental states.
  • Qigong and Tai Chi: Taoist disciplines incorporate breathwork to harmonize body, mind, and planet.
  • Shamanic Traditions: Across the continents of North and South America, Australia, Africa and elsewhere breathwork has been used for profound journeys of self-discovery and healing.
  • Languages and Dialects: In many languages and dialects, including Ancient Greek, Hebrew, Andean Quechua, Amazonian Quechua, Tibetan, Aramaic, and others, the word for breath is the same word used to describe life, spirit, and soul.

Modern breathwork draws from consciousness research, anthropology, psychology, health science, and mystical traditions. Techniques like Holotropic Breathwork, Rebirthing Breathwork, the Buteyko Method, the Wim Hof Method, and more reflect the current interest in the transformative power of breath.

Woman holding her hand to her heart, smiling softly

Humans have always recognized the potential healing portal of the breath.

The Benefits of Breathwork

Research supports the many benefits of practicing breathwork.  Most of us aren’t taking full breaths most of the time. These shallow breathing habits can actually induce feelings of stress, promote inflammation, and reduce alertness. Fuller breaths can calm us, enhance focus, improve sleep, reduce blood pressure, boost immunity, and more. Different forms of breathwork employ different patterns and rates of breathing to promote well-being, and in some cases, non-ordinary states of consciousness and/or a flow state.

  • Slow Deep Breathing: Engages the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress, anger, depression, and anxiety while promoting positive feelings.
  • Rapid Deep Breathing: Sends more oxygen to the brain, improving cognitive function, mood, energy, and alertness.
  • Alternate Breathing Patterns: Combines rapid deep and slow deep breaths with extended exhales, extended inhales, long and short holds on full and empty, improving mood and reducing stress, lowering heart and respiration rate, decreasing heart rate variability.

Regular breathwork practice can:

Breathwork Techniques and Practices

Whether you are a novice or expert breather looking for increased fitness, improved health, greater clarity, more balanced moods, or an experience of connectedness and joy, there is a breathwork technique out there for you.

Diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, pursed lip breathing, and 4-7-8 breathing are all excellent techniques for a beginning practice.

More advanced practices like Holotropic, Rebirthing, Shamanic, and Biodynamic Breathwork benefit from facilitation 1:1 or in a group setting to correctly master the techniques and receive support and guidance if and when it’s needed.

Lymphatic Drainage Therapy

Every lymphatic drainage session in my holistic occupational therapy practice begins with engaging the diaphragm muscle, kickstarting the client’s lymphatic engine by encouraging deep breathing into the belly, inviting a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree filling of the abdomen and chest. In this respect, every lymphatic drainage session starts with a simple breathwork session.

From there the work involves gently and profoundly removing blocks and constraints to lymph flow using all the various manual techniques gathered in my twenty-plus years of clinical experience. These sessions enhance the lymphatic system’s ability to do its important work: cleansing the body, removing waste products, balancing fluids, digesting fat and supporting our immunity. For more on the benefits, science and physiology of lymphatic drainage therapy, read my blog post here.

Every lymphatic session ends with a return to the deep diaphragmatic breath, promoting a more complete and effective drainage that includes clearing both the superficial and deep lymphatics. In essence, every lymphatic drainage ends with a simple breathwork session.

When combined, the effects of lymphatic drainage and breathwork can be transformational both physically and mentally.

Woman with her head back, smiling, deeply happy

How to Get Started Integrating Breathwork into Your Treatments

If there are no contraindications in your current health status, simply booking an appointment with me will get you started. Simple diaphragmatic breathing is a part of every treatment.

You can also request more advanced breathwork be a part of your lymphatic drainage session, either as a stand-alone immersion before or after treatment, or have it seamlessly integrated into your lymphatic drainage massage. In my experience, the more advanced breathing practices can be a dynamic tool for holistic drainage, opening stuck places where emotional and energetic congestion are stored.

You can also contact me directly to join a Lymphatic Rejuvenation and Breathwork Retreat.

In this several-hour immersion, enjoy a more extended, small group experience into the healing partnership of lymphatic drainage therapy and both beginner- and more advanced-level breathwork.

Don’t wait. Discover the profound benefits of breathwork and lymphatic drainage today!

Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.

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