Why Do You Get Tetany in Breathwork?Nov 18, 2022
Have you ever experienced a sudden and intense muscle cramp while doing breathwork? You may be surprised to know that this is a common occurrence for regular meditators and breathwork practitioners and is known as tetany in breathwork.
Our bodies can seem like an enigma at times, and peeling back the layers behind why a muscle cramp happens can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. But there are many reasons why muscle cramps or tetany can occur during breathwork practice.
In this article, we will explore the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual reasons behind tetany in breathwork and what you can do about it to practice your breathwork with greater ease. So, let’s dive in.
What is Tetany in Breathwork?
Tetany is essentially just a fancy word for a muscle cramp. During breathwork, it is common for some people to experience an involuntary and highly uncomfortable muscle spasm or cramp in various parts of their body, most commonly in the hands, feet, calves, back, or face.
The word tetany may sound frightening, but it is actually nothing to worry about as it is a temporary and harmless condition. That being said, it can still cause discomfort, and it is crucial to investigate the reasons why tetany may have happened during your practice to prevent it from occurring again in the future.
The Scientific Reason Behind Tetany in Breathwork
From the scientific perspective, tetany is caused by an issue in the parathyroid glands. The most common medical cause of tetany is a calcium deficiency, but it can also occur due to an electrolyte imbalance from a magnesium deficiency or potassium deficiency. These causes of tetany are generally linked to an issue in the diet and can be addressed through nutritional therapies.
Additionally, tetany can also be caused by a change in the blood pH and from respiratory alkalosis, which can be caused by breathing too quickly or too deeply. If you have never experienced tetany previously and suddenly experienced it while practicing breathwork, then this is the most likely cause from the medical perspective.
Essentially, when you are engaging in rapid or deep breathing techniques, your lungs are expelling carbon dioxide at a higher rate than usual, which can cause your blood to become alkaline from an excess of bicarbonate ions. This can change your blood pH levels and lead to muscle spasms or tetany during breathwork.
If you experience tetany during your conscious connected breathwork, Rebirthing, or Holotropic breathwork practice, then this is a good sign to slow down your breathing and switch to a more simple and relaxed breath rather than the more forceful or rapid breathing techniques. By slowing down your breathing rate, you can begin to reregulate your blood pH levels and reduce the impacts of tetany on your body.
The Mental and Emotional Reason Behind Tetany in Breathwork
While tetany has some clear medical and physical explanations, those aren’t the only reasons that tetany can occur during breathwork. Tetany during breathwork also has a mental and emotional root cause from anxiety and unresolved emotions.
People who struggle with anxiety tend to have a faster breathing rate naturally. As we know, the body and mind are deeply interconnected, and over time, this can have a long-term impact on your health and body pH. Chronic anxiety can impact all the systems of your body, and this can be further highlighted during more rapid breathing breathwork practices. Breathwork can be an excellent tool to address chronic anxiety, but it is vital to work with an experienced practitioner who can guide you safely through this process.
Additionally, within the field of psychosomatics, there is an increasing focus on how emotions become trapped in the body. These unresolved feelings often express themselves during breathwork practice because your body is beginning to shift out of fight-or-flight mode and into a safer, relaxed internal state. This can then be a trigger for your unconscious mind to release some of these past traumas and bring them back up to the surface.
By facing and dealing with this unconscious material when it arises, you can get to the root cause of your physical health issues and complete this cycle in your nervous system. With regular inner work, you can begin to unravel the threads of trauma woven throughout your life, reconnecting to your core self and accessing deep healing from within.
The Spiritual Reason Behind Tetany in Breathwork
Emotional blocks and stuck energy also have a spiritual root which can be traced back in the yoga system to the understanding of the nadis or channels in the body. In yoga philosophy, there is a belief about granthis or knots within our subtle energy system, leading to blockages in these pathways.
Breathwork or pranayama practice is naturally cleansing the nadis or channels in your subtle energy system. But sometimes, you may encounter one of these deeply held granthis or knots, and it can result in a physical reaction that transcends beyond the subtle energetic layer.
We all carry these granthis or knots within us that have their roots within samskaras or deeply held habit patterns. A significant component of breathwork practice is diving deeper within this energetic system and untangling the knots inside of our personality to reveal the inner clarity and light that lies within each of us.
How to Manage and Work with Tetany in Conscious Connected Breathwork
Tetany in breathwork has many root causes. The first step to addressing it is to investigate these possibilities and start to handle it on all levels of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms. Our bodies and minds are deeply interconnected, and by looking at things from this holistic perspective, we can truly begin to heal on all layers of our being.
So, the next time you experience tetany during conscious connected breathwork, rebirthing, or holotropic breathwork, just remind yourself that this is entirely normal and nothing to be afraid of. Tetany is simply an opportunity for us to dive deeper within, find balance in the physical body, and begin to face the unconscious material of our past to access the roots of healing.
Remember, you don’t have to walk this journey alone. If you need additional guidance on how to manage tetany in breathwork or if you would like to learn conscious connected breathwork, rebirthing, or holotropic breathwork in greater depth, then reach out to me for information on how you can get started!
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