My name is: Ana Lilia.
I'm talking about: I’m a breathwork coach and intuitive healer. I guide people to connect intimately with their breath when they are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed. I do this by hosting workshops, where we breathe collectively. And by working with people one-on-one through my Reset coaching program.
You can find it at: analilia.net and I also have a lot of free resources on my Instagram.
What inspired me to start was: Experiencing the life-changing effects of breathwork. The first time I took a breathwork class, I was depressed. I felt stuck, unfulfilled and like I wasn’t in control of my life. At the time, I was working as an actor and I was tired of constantly feeling rejected.
For the beginning, it was an intense experience. I felt so connected with my body. Yet, I was also shocked by how my body was moving involuntarily, and my hands had cramped up like lobster claws. Through this experience, I became aware of why I was unhappy. But I also felt, for the first time in a long time, hopeful that I could change my life and that things would get better.
I couldn’t believe that I was experiencing all of this by manipulating my breath. It was such a simple practice, yet so powerful and effective. I wanted to experience more of this, so I continued to practice breathwork for myself as a way to manage stress, anxiety and depression. After about six months of practicing consistently and seeing more positive changes in my life, I decided to learn how to become a breathwork coach. Four years later, I have a thriving breathwork practice through which I teach people how to breathe to help them live empowered lives.
How it works is: Breathwork is an active form of meditation where you manipulate your breath to change the way you feel. There are many different types of breathing techniques. And, yes, our body knows how to breathe naturally, but a lot of times we aren’t breathing properly which can create an imbalance in the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. That imbalance can contribute to anxiety, panic attacks and fatigue. Have you noticed that when you’re anxious, you tend to take shallow, rapid breaths from your chest, and you may even start to hyperventilate? This increases your heart rate and creates muscle tension. Your sympathetic nervous system becomes activated, and there is a surge of adrenaline and cortisol alerting your body that it needs to protect itself.
When I notice my body is stressed, I like to shift my breathing to abdominal breathing (using your diaphragm). That helps your body enter into a relaxed state. Your parasympathetic nervous system gets activated and slows your heart rate, which helps to reduce the feelings of anxiety.
The breathing technique I use is a two stage pranayama breathing pattern. You take a first inhale from your diaphragm, a second from your chest and then you exhale. It’s a circular breathing technique, where, as soon as you exhale, you inhale right away. This breathing practice can help you release tension from your body, clear your mind and, if you do a longer breathwork session with a practitioner, have a deep healing experience. Breathwork helps you feel more in control of your emotions and more grounded as you navigate these stressful times.
What makes it unique is: One of my specialities is working with people who suffer from anxiety. Many of my clients would share with me that they have panic attacks often or they have been suffering from anxiety for a long time. I created a program with guided breathing meditations to help them manage their anxiety. The biggest thing I help them with is getting to the core of why they are stressed out. This awareness gives them the power to respond instead of reactivating when they are getting triggered. They feel like they are in control of their lives again and have practical tools they can use when they are feeling stressed out.
One thing you can’t miss is: One of the cool things about breathwork is that you feel a natural high after breathing. There’s this light, joyful feeling you get that makes you feel like you can do anything in life. There’s such a powerful release that happens while breathing that you no longer feel stuck. You feel hopeful again and are reminded that whatever you are currently going through is only temporary.
My favorite secret detail is: That I incorporate my clairvoyant gifts into my practice. As my clients are breathing, I am receiving messages for them. It allows my clients to have a profound, deep healing experience. Many of them share that they have bigger breakthroughs with one session with me than in the 15 years they’ve been in therapy.
For me, addressing mental health in this difficult time is important because: A lot of people are hurting. There is too much stress in our lives and that also affects our immune systems. As we are trying not to get sick, we need to find ways to support our mental well-being. There are different ways I have been supporting my community. The biggest is our free breathwork class on Saturdays called, “Community Gathering.” We just had our one-year anniversary of gathering every weekend to breathe away the stress. Over the last year, our community has grown to include over 3,000 people from all around the world. It’s been incredible to support so many people during such a challenging time.
One tool that has really helped my mental strength in this time is: One tool that has really helped my mental health during this time is my own breathwork. It’s simple, it’s free and it has a huge impact on how I feel. Throughout my day, I check in with how my body feels and how I am breathing. Even though I’m a breathwork coach, I catch myself holding my breath. As soon I notice myself doing that, I take a few deep breaths to regulate my nervous system.
Photography by Rachel Carrillo