Breathing is our first autonomous act when we come into this world.
I attended an embodiment conference in 2020 where Leslie Kaminoff took the participants through a special breathing exercise to prove how our breath can be both voluntary and autonomous, and how it is our bodies’ deepest wisdom, our life force.
The first time I experienced a powerful breathwork session was for emotional release in a group setting where we were all breathing at the same time to music with a teacher guiding us. Within a few minutes, tears started rolling down my face, then I couldn’t stop sobbing; it was the first time I cried in two years (I had always thought not crying was a sign of strength). I just didn’t understand how breathing can be so powerful, I could literally feel my emotions break through a wall. There was no turning back for me after that. I now use breathwork 3-4 times a week.
Why do I recommend my clients, or anyone really to incorporate breathwork into their daily or weekly practice? Your breath is the greatest regulator that is available at all times and at no cost. It can help you to move your autonomic nervous system from sympathetic mode (fight or flight) into parasympathetic mode (rest and digest) in a few minutes, it can calm your anxiety, it can make you be more present with what is and it can help you feel into and connect with your body. But one of my favourite way of applying it is for emotional release.
There are different methods of breathing: the famous Wim Hoff method, which is a type of power breathing is great for modulating your body’s nervous system. Another method is breathing only in and out through the mouth (breathing into the belly and the heart space then out through the mouth), which helps with emotional release and can bring up a lot of trapped emotions for many. There are also really simple ways of breathing just to clear your blocked nose, etc., that will only take as few minutes.
Before you dive into any of the above mentioned breathwork methods, cultivate some awareness around your breath by watching it. Do you breathe in and out through your nose, or are you a mouth breather? Is your breath shallow? If it is, take a long, slow deep breath and release it slowly – how does that make you feel? More centred, calmer? Do you breathe into your chest or your belly? Belly (diaphragmatic) breathing encourages full oxygen exchange, whereas chest (thoracic) breathing is generally shallow.
Breathing is one of the most powerful and accessible tools we have to regulate our emotions. For more on breathwork and emotional release, be sure to check out our resources page for lots of tools and insight!