Why I integrated breathwork into my self care and coaching practice

Updated: Apr 29

About this time last year, I realized that while I had spent ten years addressing mental and emotional healing from my mother’s suicide, I hadn’t yet healed the trauma energetically or spiritually. While on a retreat in the North Carolina mountains, the pain resurfaced in the safe space of my peers and coaching mentors. It rose in the form of not trusting happiness and living in a PTSD state of trying to prepare for the worst.

I knew coaching and therapy would only continue to address the mental and emotional aspects, and I needed a deeper release. One that would extract the parasite from my core and transform it indefinitely. Little did I know, the Universe had already answered my call through an acquaintance that I’d met at a Byron Katie book event I attended months before. Standing next to me in line was a fellow coach and her dear friend, who is a breathwork meditation coach.

During idle chit-chat before Byron Katie took to the stage, we each shared about our experiences with our relative healing modalities and what drew us to them. When the breathwork coach beamed about how deeply healing breathwork was, I was admittedly skeptical. I had done a great deal of guided meditations focused on the breath, I followed my breath to help me center and return to the present moment, and I’d participated in pranayama exercises like box breathing and alternate-nostril-breathing. None had been transformational in the same way she was describing her experience. Nevertheless, the seed was planted.

We stayed in touch, exchanged a few emails, and at some point, we discussed collaborating. My book was hot off the presses and I was curious about how we might pair it with breathwork to create a workshop. So, I signed up for her Saturday morning breathwork gathering on the beach in Hermosa, California.

Six women and one man laid like spokes on a bicycle wheel with our heads at the hub. With eye pillows shielding our eyes from the hot morning sun, we began breathing together as instructed. One breath into the belly, a second breath into the chest, and then exhale. All through the mouth at a staccato pace.

At first it was awkward, this new way I asked my body to move. My mouth quickly dried and begged me for water and I also had the urge to pee. My mind didn’t want to shut off; it was full of thoughts hopping in non-linear directions. I was uncomfortable, but I continued.

Then we were invited to laugh. I was surprised at how easily a hearty laugh erupted. Hearing others' laughter contagiously spurred on my own. We laughed until the urge was gone and returned to our breath, which was now automatic and picking up pace.

My whole body began to vibrate, especially my hands and feet. This intensified until it felt like my whole body was paralyzed. I wouldn’t have been able to move or speak if I tried. My hands contorted and my lips pursed into a kiss as breath entered and exited. I wasn’t in pain, and yet fully aware of the energy that was surging throughout my body.

Halfway through, the coach invited us to scream, which also came rising up out of my core with ease. We all screamed until there was no scream left inside. And then I broke open. Tears and aching sobbing poured out of me. Deep release rose up and out, over and over again like waves against a jetty, until it eventually subsided.

I felt my heart chakra open so fully that it felt like my chest was floating above my blanket. Then my awareness left my body. My soul-self exchanged words with my mom’s soul on another plane before quickly returning back into my buzzing body.

At some point unclear to me, as linear time had stopped, we were invited to return to our normal breath. I cried another deep, exhausting release.

The vibrations slowly subsided everywhere except my feet and hands, which finally released their tension lock. When we had reached the end of our session and the coach asked us to remove our face masks, I was still buzzing. My mind was flabbergasted, and it took me a few hours afterward to fully process what had happened.

This was my first experience with breathwork. My second was similar only in the vibrations and releases. Since then, I’ve incorporated breathwork into my routine. Some days it brings a deep magnitude of healing bigger blocks at the energetic and spiritual level, other days I get to feel into the delicious vibrations of each of my chakras and an enormous amount of gratitude.

There are still surprises and new experiences that pop in on occasion. No two breathwork sessions have been exactly the same. I’ve released my expectations because I know that whatever is ready to be worked on is what will come up!

When a technique works for my own healing, I add it to my toolkit to offer to my clients. This personal experience with breathwork led me to formal training in both Levels 1 and 2 with David Elliott so that I could integrate breathwork into my work. Holding space and facilitating breathwork for my clients has been a beautiful experience.

Each client’s breathwork session has been uniquely different, mirroring their own special journey. All have released and healed the part that was ready for them at that time. They have shared how much lighter and open they feel as a result. And they have realized so many insights in beautifully revealed layers, starting with the immediate insights when we return to normal breath and again unfolding hours and days later.

Here’s what some of my clients have had to say about their breathwork session. (Due to confidentiality, I am not at liberty to share their names.):

“Thank you, again, Jenn. The breathwork activated many things. I am grateful for facilitators like you that help keep others clear and release trauma. I have still been so clear from our session and feel so at peace.” (Text message received seven days after breathwork session.)

“That breathwork is some powerful stuff! I couldn’t have done yesterday’s session at a better time for myself.”

It has been an absolute joy adding this to my service offerings because it both works and rounds out the mental and emotional releasing clients receive through coaching. If you’d like to try it yourself, I’d be honored to facilitate a session for you.

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