Breathwork AKA an Intimidating Foray into Trying New Things

Trying anything new can draw some hesitation so, when the Pure ladies went for a group Breathwork session with holistic Life Coach, Juliana Ericson, I have to admit I was nervous. Previously I've tried to chase away my stress with yoga, acupuncture, and massage but, something about breathing felt almost too simple to be true. 

Before the session, I had no idea what Breathwork entailed, and nothing will poke at your nerves like blindly leaving your comfort zone. With my hesitant entrance into a decadently relaxing room filled with art, vining plants, and enough pillows and blankets for a sleepover, my dissonance melted away: it was time to check my worries at the door and begin the experience. While passing pillows and blankets to everyone, Juliana explained that Breathwork is a powerful breathing technique used to help activate and release stored stress, pain, and emotional trauma. She explained that this breathing can bring up your emotional blocks you might not even consciously realize you are holding on to. 

Juliana explained breathing as the basis of all health; gentle yet powerful, it's a free way to improve yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. She began the hour-long session with calming music and dim lighting. Breathing in a pattern for us to match, she made her way around the room to help get everyone correctly focused.

Fig 1. Total Control Freak

Fig 1. Total Control Freak

Remember when I said breathing was simple? It wasn't. I relied heavily on Juliana to match her pattern, struggling to not take too-long exhales. Yes, struggling. (Later Juliana explained that exhale-focusers are usually control freaks - guilty.) The hour began difficultly for me and I was SURPRISED by that. I was anticipating fighting a racing mind, not struggling to breathe correctly! Slowly but surely, I let my control-freak grip go and felt meditative - which has NEVER been my cup of tea - but, there I was reveling in every drop of my zen state. 

When I later asked her what made her get involved in Breathwork, Juliana told me that she was looking for something other than therapy to straighten her out and something other than massage to calm her down; 22 years later, she says, she's never felt better. 

Wrapping up the session, Juliana asked us to return to our natural breathing patterns for a moment, a sort of Breathwork Shavasana. Almost everyone described not knowing if they were awake or asleep in this state and just feeling untroubled tranquility. Upon waking us (If we were asleep? Jury's out.), Juliana spoke excitedly about the good we had just done for our bodies. "Breathing fully tricks your body into relaxing, turns on the endorphin spigot, and lets your body swim in endorphins," she explained. 

She went on to outline the importance of breathing. "It enhances, not interferes, with healthcare. All health begins with breathing." Adding statistics from Dr. Andrew Weil, Harvard Medical Graduate and Guru of holistic health and integrative medicine, who conservatively estimates 50% of people are not breathing optimally. 

Why should your try Breathwork? Juliana explains that, in just 10 breaths, you can change your state, spike your endorphins, make yourself feel better, kick your anxiety and depression to the curb, all while increasing your libido and joy. It's natural, and it's addictive to feel good. Additionally it has a lasting impact for a few days, unlike an hour or two you would get from a massage. 

Would I try Breathwork again? Definitely. Taking a jump out of my comfort zone taught me a lot about myself. Yes, I am a control freak, and yes, I don't like being bad at things... like breathing, something I didn't know I could struggle with. But also, yes, I can relax, meditate, and take a positive step for my health. Who would have thought I needed a to travel to a new place, focus on a new concept, the simple task of breathing, to accomplish that!

A big thank you to Juliana Ericson for hosting us ladies from Pure, and teaching us your breathing ways! To book your own Breathworks Session with Juliana, you can visit her website.