Soooo, what’s the deal with breathwork? If you run in hippie or self-development circles you might have heard of it. And if you – like me – are less inclined towards woo-woo stuff, you might be a bit skeptical. Which is why I brought in Michelle to talk about it!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I like to go deep. I’m the girl at the party sitting on the floor with one or two people and talking about fears, dreams, and what makes life what it is. I like to get philosophical, spiritual, and have fun at the same time.
I love being in nature, feeling the sun on my skin and walking through the trees. Most weeks I make sure I lay on the grass with a good book. I soak up information from podcasts, books, and delicious conversations with the wonderful people in my life. A good coffee, inspired human, some string lights or a fire and I’m set.
So what IS breathwork? Breathwork is an active meditation. It moves stuck energy in the body. People tend to feel tingly sessions (energy) moving through the body. Stuck emotions surface along with limiting beliefs that we are often not conscious we’ve taken on.
As we heal these parts of ourselves we begin to connect to the truth of who we are. These realizations are profound and help us to make choices that are more aligned with what we really want rather than from what we are afraid of. It’s the fastest way I know to get out of the head—something most people really struggle with!
What made you turn to breathwork?
When I was 29 my life felt really messy. I was broke and in a lot of physical pain from a pinched nerve due to grinding my teeth. I felt like the Universe sent me a pretty little path of signs that lead me to Breathwork.
I was really resistant to trying it. I wanted to work with this other aruveydic healer because I believed he was going to heal my teeth grinding. When I asked him why he was referring me to this Breathwork healer he told me I had control and trust issues. Bingo. I cried and surrendered.
His email was quite long but hit me deep. After reading it I realized how emotionally numb I had become. I felt his words resonate on a soul level and something inside me just knew he was right. It was a moment of realizing that this was really it. Was I will to keep on suffering or did I really want to change? Change won.
What are the biggest misconceptions about breathwork?
That it’s just about relaxing. That’s what I thought when I was referred to a Breathwork Healer. I was like, “How is breathing going to change my life?” I imagined laying there and falling asleep. Well, pretty much the opposite happened.
I’m sure when a lot of people hear about breathwork for the first time, they think “Why would I pay someone to teach me how to do something my body does naturally?” How would you respond to that?
If you experience Breathwork you’ll quickly realize why you hire a practitioner. Lots of fear and resistance tends to surface. The energy that has kept us stuck takes hold, and we typically want to stop breathing when doing work solo. As you become experienced you learn how to work to release the resistance on your own, but most people have a hard time working through blockages solo.
As you’re breathing you’re on a journey. Your mind starts to shut down and your consciousness is altered. It makes it challenging to see clearly—so a healer can use their intuition to help you work through blockages and heal faster than you might on your own.
I’m also a big fan of working with teachers who resonate because they can help us see things about ourselves we are unwilling or currently unable to see. Faster path to healing if you ask me!
What does a successful, effective breathwork practice look like?
Breathwork is a tool for healing. It gets you out of your head and connected to your body—where your intuition is. As a person breathes their mind begins to shut off, endorphins are released, and they begin to feel their heart opening. Most of us live very protective lives. We are guarded, defensive, and tightly wound. Breathwork helps us let go so we can heal trauma, pain, and release stuck emotions and limiting beliefs.
The sessions I do with clients run around 45 minutes. This is a good amount of time to get deep into some of the energy that likes to keep us stuck and move through it. I recommend my students work with the breath for as little as 7 minutes a day to get their energy moving. You want to do longer sessions, preferably with a practitioner solo or in a group setting, as often as feels necessary.
When we want to manifest or experience something in our lives there are usually some old beliefs that will creep in to sabotage it. The clearer you can get on what you want you can become aware of the old energy creeping in. Those are the most important times to breathe.
When beginning to work with the breath I always suggest beginning a daily practice to get to know yourself better and see where your intuition takes you in your healing process.
There are many different types of Breathwork. This is a particular healing practice I facilitate under the guidance of David Elliot. It is one breathing pattern. I do teach other Breathwork patterns for different things but not as a primary part of my work. This is specifically for healing and not meant to be done while driving or at work, for example. I teach other techniques for self soothing.
Do you actively work on expanding and improving your practice?
I work with my breath every day. I practice for about 35 minutes using one of my teacher’s guided meditations. I work with him from time to time in private sessions, I go to trainings and workshops to deepen my own healing, and I sometimes go to group classes.
For my students, I offer 1:1 work, guided meditations, and virtual (and in person depending on where I am) workshops. I have playlists on my site that students can listen to as they breathe on their own as well.
How has breathwork affected your daily life?
Whew. Big ways. I am a different person. If you’re familiar with the Myers Brigs test I used to come up as an Introvert and now I show up as an Extrovert. That’s a pretty big shift!
I feel more and more comfortable in my skin. I’m not in my head all the time. I’m not afraid of my emotions. I increasingly know myself better every day. I am manifesting the things I have always wanted in my life that I have had deep beliefs of not deserving. I know my worth.
I love myself. I know how to manage my energy. I know how to set up boundaries when engaging with people. I am really clear about what I want and need in my life. I am also clear when I’m not clear! That is super important and helps me know when I need to ground myself by heading out in nature or doing some Breathwork.
What books/tools/websites/resources have helped you?
My teacher, David Elliott, has been the greatest resource for me in terms of Breathwork and Healing. In terms of my life in general I also am a Desire Map facilitator (I fused this work with Breathwork) so I love me some Danielle LaPorte.
What have you learned from this that ANY of us could apply to our daily lives?
Your breath is the most important asset you have. Learn how to manipulate it to heal yourself because your life will transform.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Michelle! Have any of you tried breathwork before? Do you have any questions for her?