I experienced Breathwork for the first time in the lush jungles of Nicaragua.
I was on a yoga retreat and the plan was to do some Prana Yama breathing before dinner. I had no idea what was in store for me and that this practice would change my life, lead me on a path of personal expansion and reconnect me with gifts from past lives.
We began by lying on our mats in this beautiful open-air pavilion overlooking the ocean. The sun had set and the wilderness was coming to life. You could hear the waves smashing on the beach, the humming of the insects, the calling of the birds, the whipping of the wind through the trees, soft drumming and singing and the rhythmic inhales of our group.
As we began to breath in that specific rhythm, a tingling, alive sensation began to course through my body. I could feel submerged emotion beginning to become softly unmoored by the sweet prodding of the breath. Our teacher, Luke, danced around us burning sage, administering essential oils and placing crystals on our bodies. He coaxed us through an emotional wave, moving from laughter to strong vocal expressions, which opened our throats and allowed old baggage, fears and tears, to percolate up to the surface. I bellowed out years of anguish and self-silencing, releasing it into the wild.
It felt revolutionary to me to be able to wail out everything I had stored in my body, while in a neutral, deeply supported space. And, now, as I have lead more and more groups, I have found that we really need to vocalize our expression in this big way. I am not surprised anymore that when you give a woman a chance to yell, she will take it and run with it!
That first time, as I moved from the active breathing back to natural breath, a gentle peace permeated me. It was the most open and soft that I think I’ve ever felt. The breath acted like a spiritual Brillo pad and stripped away the bristly stickiness of old pain. The afterglow was one of the highest natural highs I’ve ever experienced. It felt warm, intimate, loving and like a soul cleanse. I wanted to hug everybody.
I immediately approached Luke afterwards to ask where and how he had learned this method. I had connected to the work in such a potent way that I felt I had to learn more. He directed me to his (and now my) teacher, David Elliott. I ran back to my room and booked the expert’s first available retreat.
Breathwork is an active meditation technique that uses the breath to purge the body of emotional gunk. We breathe with an open mouth into the belly to stir our second chakra, oxygenate and breath new life force into our old stories and limiting beliefs. We draw the breath up to the heart to purify and wash these emotions with love. We breathe out of the mouth to release. The experience moves stuck emotional energy and facilitates release of strong emotions like anger and grief. Allowing this fresh prana/Qi/life force to move through the body creates a space for Spirit to come in. The higher vibration of love displaces denser, heavier energies allowing the body to purge.
There is usually a theme to each group circle: relationships, taking risks, self-healing etc. We open with a short talk and then people share where they are at. Everyone is heard and witnessed in their intention. We lie down for about 45 minutes of breathing set to a soundtrack. I apply essential oils, crystals and smudge throughout the breathing. We close the circle at the end with questions, feedback and hugs.
Through my work with this technique, I have been able to value myself and allow myself to be seen in a larger way than ever before. I have found my voice through growling, groaning and howling and opening the highway from my heart to my mouth. I have relearned to be a leader and become a witch/football coach/mama bear/healer hybrid when I am working in these group circles. I have reconnected with the piece of myself that has been working with breath and sound for lifetimes.
It is my greatest joy to see people emerge from a healing experience with an awed expression and a different experience of existing in their bodies. We carry so much anxiety and run old loops of disempowering language about ourselves. This work can swiftly cut through limiting beliefs and the static of self-protection. When we are able to soften our energy and begin to trust in love and the Universe, we feel differently to other people too.
This creates a positive feedback loop where feeling open can begin to feel safer. I hear more and more reports of people falling in love and being more open to relationships after they do this work. In your life, things can start to feel like they open up. There is a greater flow of creativity and ease in your relationship with yourself.
We are such magnificent beings, capable of so much. But old patterns and beliefs can get in the way of us receiving what we deeply want: we restrict our brilliance thanks to fears like being seen, being too much, not being enough, not being ready and not being safe.
Breathwork can help to clean the slate of those outmoded mental templates. I like to think of it as weeding your garden. You have to pluck out everything that is not serving you before you plant the seeds of your greatest wishes. You want the soil to be as rich and fertile as possible to provide the clearest environment for your life to bloom.
As we pause at the onset of this New Year, we can look out on the horizon and catch a glimpse of our magnificent vision. What will you be calling in that will bring you more of what you truly desire? Breathwork can be a soul vehicle that reconnects you to your path.
It takes bravery and heart to commit again and again to investigating your inner realms, but it is the greatest work you will ever do!
My next group Breathwork will be focused on calling in your New Year with powerful intention! This is about planning and shaping your year to bring in more fun, joy, adventure, excitement, love and anything else for which your heart yearns.
Friday, January 2nd from 7:30-9:30pm
Maha Rose at 97 Green St. Brooklyn, NY 11222
For more information on my Breathwork groups, visit Radiant Heart Acupuncture.
--Erin Telford. Erin Telford believes your light is just as informative and valuable as your shadow and holds space for both. Her mission is to help people heal their relationships with themselves. She pulls from a toolbox of therapeutic conversation, lifestyle and spiritual counseling, essential oils, crystals, mantra and healing tools. She is a healer, acupuncturist, herbalist and Reiki practitioner and leads individual and group Breathwork sessions. Telford's private practice, Radiant Heart Acupuncture, is located in Chelsea in New York City.