If you haven’t heard, breathwork is making its way to the mainstream world of wellness and going head-to-head with household-named practices like yoga and meditation.
But wait, what’s the difference? Doesn’t yoga and meditation already emphasize focusing on your breath? I’ve been practicing yoga since 2008, and mediation has been a part of my morning ritual every day since 2018. Why should I practice breathwork now?
I’ve heard whispers of breathwork amongst the wellness community in Vancouver before I moved to Mexico. Now, living in Tulum, a mecca of spiritual healing and alternative wellness practices, I meet people every week that speak about breathwork.
I remember my first yoga class – I hated it. But once I got past the discomfort of trying something new, I loved it. So I decided to give breathwork a shot and do three online sessions with a teacher before I form an opinion.
I decided to partake in Holotropic breathwork. This practice was developed by psychiatrists Stanislav and Christina Grof in the 1970s to achieve altered states of consciousness as a potential therapeutic tool.
In my first session, I recognized the importance of having a guide. The teacher instructed us to breathe through our mouths down to our stomach. Then to our chest, and exhale through the mouth. This technique was challenging, but with guidance, I was able to persist. With each exhale, I became more present and attuned to my body.
By the end of the session, I was in tears. I had put a lot of pressure on myself in the past year, adjusting to the new norms of working remotely. It was a release of suppressed emotions. After three sessions, I was convinced and continue to practice breathwork religiously today.
Before I give you the reasons why we should all add breathwork to our wellness routines, let’s answer the question:
What is Breathwork?
At its core, it’s an active meditation while taking conscious control of your breath. There are different breathing patterns, but most of them are linked to relieving the body and nervous system of emotional debris.
There are many schools of breathwork (i.e., Holotropic, Transformational, Shamanic), and within them, various breathing types (i.e., circular, boxed, ujjayi, breath of fire). But the focus remains consistent: mind-body connection.
During class, your breathwork teacher first guides you through the technique they are trained in.
Once you begin breathing, they might play inspirational music, incorporate mantras or crystal therapy into your session, and perhaps end with a guided meditation.
Whether it’s repressed emotions, things you’re holding back or hiding from, these things will come up. Sometimes, intense experiences can be felt, and the presence of a breathwork professional would help guide you through any emotional or physical discomfort.
Why Should We Do Breathwork Now?
We have entered into a new normal when it comes to social gatherings and events. Breathwork is a practice that can be just as effective when done remotely and can be easily practiced with a teacher over Zoom. To have the ability to cultivate a sense of calm throughout your body and mind is a feeling of control that we can all use in these times of uncertainty. The benefit of it becoming more mainstream is that it can help us relate with others as it becomes more relevant in pop-culture.
Reasons to do Breathwork:
- Process grief
- Release emotions
- Enrich creativity
- Reduce stress and anxiety levels
- Rested sleep
- Lowers blood pressure
When you hear the term self-care, what comes to your mind?
Perhaps you’re familiar with what it means, maybe you’re struggling to find moments of self-care of your life, or maybe you think only certain people can benefit from it.
I’m here to tell you anyone can benefit from taking care of themselves. The biggest challenge is finding the time and taking action.
Declutter your brain with these simple proven methods. From this video, you will learn how to stop overthinking, stressing, and worrying and instead make room for more positive and productive thinking to calm your anxious mind.
Sabrina Chammas Doumet
My journey started at 16 years old.
I was raised in a culture where people did not speak of any pain unless it was physical. My parents did not talk about emotions. In fact, it was not welcomed for us to express ourselves freely. This was not because my parents were horrible people, but because it was considered inappropriate and looked down upon to emote feelings, of any kind.
I remember that even when I would be upset, my mom would say “shush I don’t want to hear your voice”, meaning you can deal with this, there is no need to be upset.
Fast forward to me at 16. I remember feeling very down. I even thought I was dying because I could not understand such a dark heavy feeling. We had no clue what was going on with me. My mom, terrified, took me to the doctor and was told I was depressed and needed to talk to a counsellor. My mom completely ignored that diagnosis, brought me home and went back to normal life.
At that point, I continued to numb, suppress and pretend.
At 18, I started having really bad stomach pains. This time, the doctor had a diagnosis, it was a parasite. He gave me a treatment and the pain was temporarily removed.
It wasn’t long before the pains started coming back. I went to doctors, specialists, and no one could find the cause of my pain. They diagnosed it as “IBS.” They basically said there was not much I can do but live with the pain.
Over the years this pain got so bad, that at times I would be at the ER barely walking, and only a shot of morphine was able to completely numb the pain. It was horrible and it became my “normal.” I started avoiding all kinds of foods, being scared to eat, being scared of pain. It truly was depressing.
Then, one weekend at 25, almost 10 years later, I took a personal development course, where for the first time I was able to look at parts of my life that caused me a lot of pain – the same pain that I had never processed. For the first time, I spoke of these things and shared them out loud. I remember feeling different, free, but scared at the same time. This was so different for me. It didn’t feel fully safe.
The pain was still here.
A couple years later, I remember one day, randomly meeting an incredible energy healer. I had no idea what that even meant but she somehow picked up on my stomach pain and said she could help me. With no hesitation I booked an appointment and within days I was having a session with her. During those 2 hours on her table as she was working her magic, I remember bawling like a little girl, non-stop, not even understanding why. I kept releasing and releasing more and more of these pent-up feelings. She helped me see all the memories, pain, traumas my body was carrying for so long. I remember feeling relieved. It felt like I could breathe for the first time in a long time.
My stomach started getting better. I was so happy and grateful. I continued seeing her for a bit and feeling better and better.
At 29, I was going through a dark time, at the time I did not understand what was happening. I ended up leaving all that I knew, husband, career, friends and started a new life. I ignored the darkness, as well as the inner pain, and numbed in many unhealthy ways, until it hit me again and this time it hit me hard.
With the energy healer, we had opened a door, and there was a lot to more work to do with my pain, but I stopped and I numbed. My body, mind and soul were hurting. I was in pain physically, depressed and spiritually lost.
I started counselling where I released A LOT. I had a safe space where I was heard, seen and validated. Something I didn’t have before. Not in that way. I did some somatic work, where I allowed my body to release pain and trauma. I did acupuncture, I saw a naturopath, I even did a few plant medicine ceremonies, and much more over the last 7 years.
Each of these modalities allowed for me to go a bit deeper, to peal one more layer of the onion. And I was only able to use these modalities when I was ready for them. Each allowed me to heal naturally and at my own pace. Had I not started counselling, I am not sure I would have been as open to breathwork therapy or plant medicine work! In my experience, each modality prepared me for the next.
Today I have made peace with so many parts of my past. I don’t have these pains anymore. That said, when I do suppress emotions, my stomach will remind me. It will get tight and I know right away to check in and work through what is coming up for me, rather than ignoring it.
I hated my body for being in so much pain for so long, but little did I know it was helping me be free. It was communicating with me. I just wasn’t paying attention for so long. I had no idea.
Thanks to my journey, I changed careers and became a counsellor. Today it is one of my favourite things to do; to be a guide to others’ healing journey. As I support them, I can see how different each person is, and how we each respond to very different messages, deliveries and modalities. Some people do better with acupuncture than counselling, or some need acupuncture to open up a few things and then become ready for counseliing. Everyone is completely unique in what they are going through, and what works best for their healing.
This awareness is one of the reasons I was inspired to create One Stop Therapy. I really wanted people to have access to an abundance of amazing modalities that exist. During my own journey, I had no idea of the different resources that were out there. I was blessed that my community was able to refer these practitioners.
On One Stop Therapy, we have a clear description of the different modalities available as well as lists of practitioners you can connect with and I really hope you can find wonderful resources for your healing journey and live a life free of pain!