Here are some frequently asked questions about breathwork to give you more insight.
But truly, the best way to find out is to just try it!
What is breathwork?
Breathwork is an active meditation that utilizes an ancient Pranayama technique of breathing through the mouth at a rhythmic pace: breathe deep into the low belly, then the upper chest, and then exhale through the mouth. For more about the science behind breathwork, read this article.
During the session you will lay on the floor and do the breathing technique while being guided to stay present, speak affirmations, and use cathartic sound like yelling and laughter to release stuck energy. Sometimes you may experience lightheadedness, nausea, bodily sensations, or anxiety. These feelings are common and may be a part of your deepening into the healing process. Using this active breathing technique for approximately 30 minutes allows for fast and deep processing of pain, fear, stuck emotions, stress, grief, addiction, trauma, low self-worth, and any other negative judgments or memories you may be holding onto. When you complete the active breathing you will achieve a state of deep relaxation for 10 to 15 minutes. Afterwards, you will experience a grounded sensation of radical self love and gratitude for your mind-body connection. Breathwork practitioners report seeing brighter colors, better hearing, a feeling of transcendence and deep relaxation for days afterwards.
In breathwork sessions, I infuse the experience with a curated music playlist, as well as some live singing and harmonium playing to help you delve deeper into your healing process. You are welcome to utilize your own healing tools like burning plants, essential oils, eye pillow, etc.
What does Breathwork feel like?
I think it feels like running a 5k race laying down but without the exercise part... it leaves you a rush of endorphins, clarity, and connection to your wider self. The first few minutes of breathwork may be the most challenging, because your mind will be trying to control and resist letting go. It is breathWORK, after all.
By 5 minutes, you may experience tingly sensations in parts of your body, because the breath saturates your body with oxygen and depletes it of CO2. You may even experience tetany in the hands where they involuntarily curl up like "lobster claws." Don't let this scare you though...while many breathwork facilitators describe this sensation as releasing energetic blockages, you are physically experiencing an involuntary contraction of muscles from this decrease in CO2 in your blood. It is not harmful or painful, just more of an intense sensation. The more often you practice breathwork, the more you will find the ability to open these tighter areas. For technical information on tetany, check out this great website for more information.
By about 10 minutes, you will be encouraged to yell, laugh and speak affirmations in order to loosen up and help move through any blockages or continued resistance. You will continue the breathwork for a total of 20-30 minutes, and then release into a deep relaxation. The relaxation part is the most important part of integration (a lot like yoga), and all you have to do is trust and let go. This is where some really powerful insights or messages can occur.
Afterwards, reports of seeing brighter colors, hearing better, feeling lightness, less pain and more centered are common. Results can last for days and even weeks, and I've found that I've never been the same after breathwork, even months later. A continued practice is encouraged, and once you know the breathwork process you are welcome to try it on your own. Coming in for a "tune up" with a facilitator is also helpful to keep you on track.
What physical abilities do I need to try Breathwork?
Breathwork is ideal for people who are able to transfer themselves into a laying position on the floor. Breathwork may have contraindications for people with certain heart issues or certain medications, so it’s best to check with a doctor beforehand. I am not a licensed mental health clinician currently, so I may also refer you to community resources if it seems like you may need additional support after a session.
What style of breathwork session should I try?
Breathwork can be done in individual sessions, couples, or groups. It just depends on what kind of healing experience you are looking for. If you have a lot of trauma or intimate personal history you need to process, an individual session may feel more private. There are also different styles of breathwork with patented versions and special names. This is not a patented style. Anyone can try it and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to study it. In fact, I hope everyone will start practicing it and sharing it, because in my opinion it is the most accessible path for healing.
Will breathwork conflict with my religious views?
No. Breathwork can complement any religious or spirituality practice, and will bring you closer in your relationship with yourself or to Spirit, God, the Universe (different names, same meaning). It can work too if you are an atheist, because it will simply help you to relax your mind and let go of stuck emotions. It is a form of meditation to relax the mind and connect deeper with your intuition and your body.
When did you find breathwork?
I discovered breathwork when we were living in Upstate New York. I went to the beautiful healing space Maha Rose in Brooklyn for a group session with Erin Telford, because I was very curious about how breathwork could be different from a yoga class. My first group experience was out of this world! I had never experienced such a transcendental, transformational feeling of letting go. It was beyond any Savasana experience I had ever had in a yoga class. I started my home practice and participated in virtual group sessions, but I wanted to study breathwork deeper, so in 2018 I traveled to Sandia Park, New Mexico and trained with teacher David Elliott.
So really, why breathwork for self care? Is self care selfish?
The people I know who practice breathwork on a regular basis are some of the most authentic, grounded and inspiring folks I've ever met. The best listeners are the best breathers. If more people work on their breath on a regular basis, perhaps we can all become better at navigating life's challenges while also becoming better allies and advocates for inclusive and positive change in these current times.
Self care can be community care, so it is my hope that breathwork can help us can create stronger communities too. Self care has been getting trendy lately, but this is the kind of deep self care that allows for more compassion, truth and joy to come forward in your own self…and when your cup is full you can show up in a good way for others.