Breathing the most underrated thing you will do today.
Updated: Jun 24, 2021
I have been breathing for 51 years, I berthed a daughter on this day 23 years ago Happy Birthing day to me and Happy Birthday to Catie-Jane! Whilst incubating & growing her inside me she borrowed from my breath resources too. After the midwife encourage (read yelled at) me to breath and push we never spoke about breath again until we discussed hers- my daughters and my anxiety a few years ago. We both have anxiety for similar but also different reasons. Thats another blog entirely.
I have long recognised I have been a mouth the breather while I sleep, during the day its a different story. I have, since I was a child, focused my attention on breathing through my nose. There must have been a lesson somewhere that as a dancer this was how I could smile though a performance and as a singer how I could more discretely inhale and effectively hold a note. Add a side benefit that as an anxiety sufferer it was a really good way to disguise that I was breathing at all. I could inhale & hold my breath pushing all my feelings and unwanted emotions down deep deep down. I was probably 8 or 9 when I first remember feeling this. It was a practice that I carried with me well into my mid 30s. I catch it before its even allowed to happen now & I shake my self out of it. I literally dance to shake it off.
As a teenager my nose got hijacked by a cold one time, Drixine was the pharmacy drug of choice that cleared my nose & let me breath through it day and night. A year after this addiction began my mum figured it out & took me to the doctor where they gave me a prescription for heavier steroid medication to stop the addiction in its tracks. It did, I was so relieved to be breathing freely, however I was back too mouth breathing at night.
Into my early up to 20s as spent more time teaching & competing in aerobics & studying fitness. Nose breathing was essential - its how you you breathe whilst smiling or talking whilst working in your anerobic zone. Its how you mask pain breathing and hold the breath. Think of Madonna, Pink or Lady Gaga singing & dancing at the same time.Thats the random skillset you develop. I loved my "Madonna headset" aka microphone that I wore for teaching class whilst jumping around in my signature pink hot pants that were on par with Kylie's minuscule gold ones. They are how I met Catie-Janes dad.
Not sure when and how I thought shoving heaps of coke up my nose in my late 20s was gonna be helpful for breathing? That period of time was a mix of good and bad experiences I never missed a work day always made it to the gym and the occasional yoga class working to look good for the weekend when I would do it all again. Parenting put a kibosh on that.
Then 15 years ago I enter my first yoga asana practice, Bikrim, the 90 minute sweat box. I had a slight advantage because I could already nose breathe under physical duress. This is where I learned my first actual breathing technique or pranayama. The very first exercise in the Bikrim class is Ujayi Breath (victorious breath). The class ends with Kapalabati or skull shining breath. These classes were where I first found my self able to loose my anxiety and ditch my depression, so I swung in and out of practice and as a result in and out of anxiety, overwhelm and depression. Eventually I put two & two together that this shape making breathing practice wanted me to sit still when we we were finished. We didn't need to be asked twice, we sat because we couldn't complete any other tasks lol.
Breathwork, Pranayama or just plain old breathing was only ever mentioned to me in those Bikrim classes & very occasionally in a yoga class. Breathwork, Pranayama or just plain old breathing was never mentioned by any of my treating psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists or any of the "P's" or "Ist's" until I went to my first yoga teacher training where my mind was blown by the various styles of yoga, their specific techniques & associated mudras. Life changing stuff and finally the pennies began to drop. That perhaps I am in control of me and not my brain & its never ending news like daily drop of doom... and I am an optimist!!!
Ancients have always known that breathing was essential to our physical mental & spiritual well being. I reflect on this from a yogic perspective because this is where my studies lay, however the further I look, the more I experience and learn about other cultural sharings which show me that breathing haas been a large component of their wholistic practices as well.
In article by Stanislav Grof he writes "the ancient Indian literature, the term prana meant not only physical breath and air, but also the sacred essence of life. Similarly, in traditional Chinese medicine, the word chi refers to the cosmic essence and the energy of life, as well as the natural air we breathe by our lungs" his is a super interesting article that once again highlights and unites our human experiences He finishes off commenting that modern medicine reduced breathing to a physiological function, and here we are beginning to rediscover all its amazing benefits.
So I continued breathing through yoga and as I learned to control my breath, slow it down and allow it to be a rhythmic inhale and exhale. I also learned other techniques along the way that were extremely useful in remedying my various emotional states I love these tools so much I will share the notes with you here. See my Masterclass on Breathing through stress anxiety & overwhelm here I was like this should be an entire semester of study at school, how to breathe for your life!! But what kid is gonna want to learn that?? lol Imagine around the dinner table "mum we were learning about breathing today it was so boring, I can already breathe dah". I guess mini-er humans have to under go their own experiences to understand the value proposition of breathing super bagus (really good).
My first breath work session was here in Bali I was like I will try that, it was full of a lot of people doing heavy breathing and occasional yelling I was self conscious and to busy wondering if the person next to me was going to expire or hit me. I felt like my meditation was gonna be good but didn't get to stay silent long enough. Every one got up and started discussing how they had resolved child hood trauma in that one session and that they were more alive than ever. I felt a spiritual shaming brewing, I looked for the door as I wondered if we were in the same room? I thanked the host and left perplexed. The room was still buzzing with breakthroughs.
Not to be scared off.... my next breathing session was several months later with Dan Brule Life long breathing legend and breath guru to the gurus aka Tony Robbins, it blew my tiny pea size brain. I had to retract the negative thoughts I put out in the universe after my feared spiritual inadequacies of the last session. I had that aha moment as he moved us through the various breathing techniques and realised my physical self relaxed and my body start to tingle and in an amongst a river of emotions I lost track time breathing with the group. It wasn't at all rushed or spiritually exclusive i.e. if you aren't gonna have a spiritual experience don't bother. I then had quite simply the best meditation ever. He left us all, to just be there hanging out meditating on line. This random curious collective from all around the world just chilling on a zoom call. He then opened it up to us for questions & discussion. I just listened. Dan has a must read book entitled "Just Breathe" which incidentally is also my favourite line out of a movie ever. It is uttered by Drew Barrymore in the movie Ever After.
Then I started to deepen my study.
There are some amazing breathing practitioners here in Bali who I am lucky to be able to connect with. There are breath experts that have been screaming their findings, their magnus opus black & blue at the world wondering why the medical profession, dentists and mental health workers who by in large ignore the breath and its internal process as a key contributor to any aspects of our health. Only in the last few years are they getting air time.
Patrick McKeown World- renowned author and breathing practitioner & training expert, who has written "The Oxygen Advantage", "Close Your Mouth" (my mum used to say that too me a lot LOL ) as well as "Anxiety Free: Stop Worrying and Quieten Your Mind".
James Nestor author & Journalist has written "Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art". which is a compelling a comedic account of his ten year personal investigation of breathing. Its a bible for lovers of the power of breath.
Of course there is Wim Hof who is the most vocal leader of the breathing pack, along side Niraj Naik of Soma Breath who acknowledges the ancient history of the art of breathing and bring it to us as a modern techniques for getting our shit together and getting on with our awesomeness. There are many others influencing our breathing outcomes with flavours seasoning their practices coming from all corners of the globe. Its beautiful and its connecting humans, making us happier and healthier.
So many things that I want to share with you in this blog but perhaps you might like to read about that in my book! Breathe Bend Sit your way to a healthier happier you. which is coming soon!! But I am going to share one story... During the course of my coaching certification I was introduced to mouth taping. If you google this near a child hide your phone or you may want to just wait till they have gone to bed & even then delete your cookies. After a brief moment of shock and tilting my head sideways....I added the words nasal breathing to my search and the results were a little less X rated.
Any who mouth taping is the art of taping your mouth when you sleep! Yes its really a thing. One night after making sure no one was looking and also drinking a big glass of water, still a dubious, inquisitive yet keen student of breathing I reached for some micropore tape from my first aid kit. I ripped off two centimetres and stuck it between my cupids bow over my lips securing it just below where my bottom lip becomes my chin. I looked in the mirror and raised my eyebrows and wondered if I would ever give another blow job again. I did actually think that..... but the taping weirdness outweighed my thoughts of penis possibilities.
On with the taping, I climb into bed and think that a yoga nidra might help me sleep. It did.
I woke up the next morning, my jaw felt relaxed, my mouth was not dry nor was I thirsty. My face felt relaxed. I didn't wake up at all during the night not for anything. I breathed through my nose all night. I think it was the first time ever in my life. Future boyfriends take note all blow jobs must be completed before 10pm when I will tape my mouth shut for reoxygenation purposes. If they snore they will be getting their mouths taped shut too.
Once you go down the breathing rabbit hole you literally do not want to leave, such is the impact of this powerful yet effortless super power whose benefits are limitless yet largely ignored. I am a certified breath work coach working one on one with clients here in Bali and online. I also teach breathing techniques that you can keep on hand and reach into your tool box for whenever you need to check in or adjust where you are at.
I share three pillars of practice Breath Bend & Sit
Reign in the mind with the breath
Breathe so you can bend
Bend so that you can sit
Sit so you can find your own personal peace, health & happiness
I strongly encourage you to get in touch with your breath, you may have heard some of these tips before, If you want to know more or work with me to lessen stress anxiety & overwhelm
Breathe your inhale and exhale through your nose
Breathe rhythmically and gently
Check in with your breath throughout the day
Use breathing techniques to shift your physical & emotional states.
You may have heard some of these tips before, If you want to know more or dive a little deeper into harnessing the power of your breath. Working with me to kick stress, loosen the grip of anxiety or overcome overwhelm get in touch here get in touch here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Breathe Bend Sit xxxkit