Just Breathe

Just Breathe

My name is: Marina Rae Trejo.

My stomping ground is: Greenpoint, Brooklyn and the south shore of Long Island.

I’m known for being: A Pilates teacher, a yoga teacher, an esthetician. I teach people how to move their bodies.

I’m talking about: Breathwork. It is the foundation, the genesis, the container, the accelerator, the remote control for all movement. 

You can find it at: I teach in-person group classes in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and offer weekly online recordings. I also teach in-person and online streaming classes for The Class located in Tribeca, NYC and their online digital streaming platform. I offer microcurrent and microneedling face sessions at Practise, NYC, a skincare spa, also located in Tribeca, NYC. 

Before I started this mindfulness work, I was: I studied dance and Pilates. From a young age, I had an interest in how the body works. I received my BFA in French literature and minored in art history and later, fashion design, then held junior positions at a few fashion companies before returning to wellness and movement in 2003. It was a very different landscape from what we know today. 

My interest was sparked when: I studied with various movement teachers and bodyworkers/healers who had a tremendous influence on how I teach. I am  grateful to them for giving me their time and energy. I seek to learn more, to understand and to strip things down to their core essence. I’m obsessed with the idea of shape, form and function within universal ideals and why, how and where the human body’s alignment fits into this microcosm. 

Owing to decades of teaching and observing bodies, I’ve recognized that there is no one movement modality or prescription that is better than others. It's not  about a specific technique, it’s about how you approach whatever technique you are moving through. I can teach classic, systematic exercise classes that are wonderful and a great workout, but I have become more interested in breaking down the choreography and investigating the mechanics of, “how do you actually lift your head off the ground and what is happening while that is occurring?”

The book Breath, by James Nestor, struck me: twenty years of studying and teaching fell into place. The tool of breath is the map to understanding the mechanics of our body. I started to play with different techniques that I’ve been taught, but breathing exclusively through the nose. I watched my shape and how I felt—movement suddenly had a completely different sensation. Once you get used to it, the breath shows you how to move, where you’re holding tension, where there is void, where there is pressure. This simple shift to exclusive nose-breath is so straightforward, and it works. It requires a bit of unlearning, and it takes some time to rejigger one's approach to movement, but the results are remarkable.

The idea behind it is: The concept is you simply breathe in and out through the nose, and make no compromise. The cervical part of the spine is loosely located behind the nose and, by breathing from the nasal cavity, the musco-skeletal structure allows for contraction and release. The breath directs the body’s movement and, in effect, naturally “teaches” correct alignment.

What makes it different is: Breathwork is often placed within the meditation or self-study practice, which is usually taught separately from the physical part of a movement practice. Most movement modalities, (yoga, Pilates, aerobics, spinning, CrossFit, HIIT, etc.) are based in choreography or focused on a specific body part i.e. abs and arms, legs and butt. By breathing through the nose during  all movement, whether hula hooping or horseback riding, the breath immediately pulls awareness back into the body and into presence. The results are long term and accelerate growth in whatever modality you are practicing.

My favorite lesser-known detail is: Nasal breathing helps resolve struggles of the nervous system and emotional and mental frustrations. For instance, I use it in therapy and it helps me become more vulnerable and open when talking about fears and other scary things. Nasal breath is the body’s default breathing system.

I hope people walk away feeling: Empowered. I love that this practice is free and everyone can do it, anywhere, anytime. 

Mindfulness is so much more than a trend because: The synonyms for mindfulness are: alertness, carefulness, particularity, vigilance, enthusiasm, discrimination, concentration, fastidiousness, trouble, regard and exertion, which covers a lot of ground. In the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness roughly implies awareness, attention or alertness and vipassana, which means insight cultivated by meditation. Words have a lineage that get added to and subtracted from depending on usage and influence. I love the idea of living in the middle and gaining insight by allowing oneself to just being there. 

One moment when mindfulness helped me was: When I am going through a difficult situation, I am struck by the feeling that there is nothing to be done to alleviate the burden. It feels permanent and forever. When I am out of the struggle, the feeling is tremendous and gratitude abounds for what I have experienced. The very struggle feels like a necessity and becomes a part of me. It’s like when practicing daily, healthy habits don’t always seem like they amount to much, but, over time, that space provides a lens from which to witness how the small, deliberate practices amount to vast levels of profound change that eventually become you. 

The words I live by are: As my grandmother would say, “This too shall pass.” And it always does.

One truth that is so important, but people don’t always realize is: Oh, it’s so annoying to say, but you truly are given everything you need.

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