By now you’ve probably heard about the power of breathwork, aka intentional breathing that can affect your physiological state. And if you’re looking to kick your breathwork practice up a notch, or just release some pent-up emotion, you might want to incorporate screaming. (Yes, really!)
According to yoga and breathwork instructor at Open Ally Maz, screaming is a release like no other—and she particularly likes it for starting your day. Here’s why, plus how to do it without alarming the neighbors.
The cleansing benefits of a good scream.
In practices like meditation and yoga, we’re encouraged to observe the mind and let emotions come and go. But when it comes to all the emotions related to anger, it can be hard to truly process, integrate, and release them. That’s where screaming comes in.
As Maz tells mbg, many of us are out of touch with our own inner anger and rage. So in her classes, she leads a breathwork sequence that purposefully allows those emotions to come up, leading to a peak moment where you finally scream and let out everything that’s been building.
“There’s a buildup to this crescendo moment,” she explains, adding that afterward, students often experience an emotional release of either crying or ecstatic laughter.
And when it comes to when you might want to try this, the morning is a great place to start. “Active breathwork has an upregulating effect. It stimulates the mind, raises the heart rate, and you’re actually offloading more carbon dioxide than when you’re normally, unconsciously breathing,” Maz notes.
This offloading of CO2 “brings in a sharpness and a clarity, and with the screaming element, you’re moving some energy through before you step into the day,” she says. In short, it helps you release and get balanced and centered first thing.
Maz notes that her classes usually last anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, but for those doing this on their own, she says you only need around 15. Before beginning, you’ll want to either lie or sit down, as it’s not uncommon to feel a bit lightheaded in the beginning. If you’re apprehensive about neighbors or roommates hearing you, grab a blanket or a pillow you can scream into.
Once you’re comfortable, you’ll start with a three-part breathing sequence (all through the mouth) of an inhale into the belly, inhale into the chest, and exhale. Continue this breath for 10 to 15 minutes and think about what you’d like to release, whether it’s frustrations, grief, rage, etc.
“Then the scream comes in,” Maz says, “and generally I call it a primal scream.” Take a super-deep breath in and allow the scream to rise up from deep inside you, from the pit of your belly. “Let it rip and scream until you can’t scream anymore,” she adds.
If you feel like you’ve got more left to scream out, you can take another big inhale, and scream a second time. Maz says two screams usually do the trick.
After that, allow for integration with a couple more minutes of the three-part breath followed by calming, deep breaths.
When you think about techniques that allow for an emotional release, screaming may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it can certainly work wonders.
If you’re curious but apprehensive, Maz notes it can be really helpful for beginners to try a guided session. (Open is offering mbg readers a 30-day free trial.)
“Give it a try and see how you feel after,” Maz says, adding that it’s all about identifying the sensations within us and offering an avenue of release. “Sometimes we can’t just tuck things away or get over it,” she adds, “so the scream is like an accelerated medicine of getting the emotions out of your body.”