BREATH AND THE ART OF INNER ALCHEMY
"Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?" - Mary Oliver
As the only function of the Autonomic Nervous System that can be consciously controlled, the breath is one of the most powerful tools available to support emotional, psychological, and physical well-being.
Without conscious awareness and management, the breath naturally responds to one’s experience in the world. In states of fear, overwhelm, anxiety, depression, and stress, we hold and restrict the breath. When we feel safe, connected, and relaxed, the breath is deep and free flowing, and the body relaxed. Over a lifetime of stress, trauma, heartbreak, and emotional overwhelm (and resulting disassociation), most adults have developed patterns of tension that lock energy in the body. The result is experiences of anxiety, confusion, exhaustion, self-doubt, depression, insomnia, and a myriad of physical ailments.
By engaging a conscious, active breathing practice, we can begin to unwind these deeply held patterns and liberate our life force energy. In doing so, we reconnect to our innate vitality, clarity, creativity, presence, and capacity to meet the experiences of life with greater peace, ease, and empowerment.
Beyond its powerful influence on emotional, psychological, and physical well-being, conscious breathwork can take one beyond identification with the mind/ego, into the essential ground of being. This type of direct, “spiritual” experience can totally shift one’s orientation to life, and to the nature of reality itself.
WHAT IS BREATHWORK?
Breathwork originated from ancient Eastern traditions over 2500 years ago, and the terms is now used to encompass a wide variety of practices that engage the breath in a conscious manner to affect certain results:
BREATH AWARENESS (FOR NERVOUS SYSTEM REGULATION): Breathing is both a conscious and unconscious function of the Autonomic Nervous System. We can survive without thinking about the breath, yet our response to the experiences of life (stress, trauma, shock, cold weather, traffic, etc.) affects the way we breathe. The bodies of most adults are in varying degrees of chronic distress, and the breath is shallow and constricted. Simple breath awareness practices help individuals notice when and how the breath contracts, and to then relax and restore diaphragmatic breathing. By bringing conscious awareness to our breathing patterns, we can gradually rewire the “stress response” and find greater ease, peace, and vitality in our lives.
YOGIC PRANAYAMA: Pranayama is a branch of yoga that engages breath regulatory practices to reclaim the natural breath and restore the free flow of prana (life force energy). There are a myriad of techniques that can be engaged to achieve different goals and states of experience, from energizing and clarifying the mind, to reducing anxiety and relaxing the body. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states that “breath is the key to ultimate emancipation,” and that pranayama provides a bridge between the individual self and the universal soul.
ACTIVE BREATHWORK. Today, there are many schools of “breathwork” that branched out of Holotropic and Rebirthing methods founded in the late ‘60’s, with primary orientation towards releasing trauma in the body and accessing heightened states of awareness and consciousness. These practices engage a breathing pattern that emphasizes a continuous, diaphragmatic breath for extended periods of time. This type of breathwork is quite active and dynamic, and serves as a strong catalyst for releasing energetic blocks in the body.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BREATHWORK?
The benefits of conscious breathwork are many and profound, including:
- Increased physical energy and vitality, along with greater relaxation and sense of anchored presence in your body and in yourself
- Integration and processing of past experiences that create non-beneficial patterns in your present day experience
- Increased capacity to meet the challenges of life with resiliency; greater capacity to RESPOND to life, rather than REACT
- Improved immune function; lowered blood pressure; hormonal balance; reduced inflammatory states in the body; optimized oxygenation, cell function, and pH balance; improved sleep
- Greater mental clarity, creativity, and inspiration; heightened inspiration and productivity in work and personal endeavors
- Release of self-limiting thought forms and beliefs; shifting from being a victim of life to empowered as a creator of the reality you experience
- Greater capacity to experience joy, spontaneity, pleasure and play
- Increased sexual vitality, and sensitivity
- Heightened awareness and ability to see the bigger picture of your life and relationships
- Mystical experiences and gnosis (direct transmission of Spiritual knowledge)
- Greater sense of connection to Source/Nature/God
SCHEDULE A PRIVATE OR COUPLE’S SESSION: A single private session can be life changing, and a series of private sessions can help release the deepest layers of holding in the body. With the steady presence of a facilitator, clients often feel more safe and supported going into a deep process, and together, we follow the wisdom of your breath and body to welcome profound healing and remembering.
First Session (2hrs) - $180
Follow-up Series (3 sessions, 1.5hrs each) - $500
Couple’s Healing Ceremony (2hrs) - $300
ATTEND A GROUP CEREMONY: Group sessions offer a potent, amplified field that enable deep shifts and healing to occur. Standard ceremonies are 2-3 hours that begin with an introduction to the work, followed by a 90-minute breathwork journey. Recorded music – along with live shamanic drumming, chanting, and rattling – support the process. Groups are typically 12-18 people, and you will receive individual support from Tai (and assistants) throughout the experience. More information about what to expect in a group breathwork session is available HERE, along with information on preparation and follow-up self care, etc.
Wednesday 7/25 - Seattle (Women's Ceremony)
7:00-9:00pm @ Ritual House of Yoga
Sunday 8/12 - Seattle
4:00-6:30pm @ Ritual House of Yoga
**Registration opening soon
Saturday 8/18 - San Francisco
2:00-5:00pm @ The Center SF
Sunday 9/9 - Seattle (Breathwork Intensive)
1:00-4:15pm @ Bala Yoga Fremont
BOOK A PRIVATE GROUP CEREMONY OR BREATHWORK TRAINING: I offer small group facilitation and trainings to corporate leadership teams, as well as custom ceremonies for families, couples, spiritual groups, women and men’s groups, yoga teacher training programs, etc. Group breathwork sessions offer an incredible opportunity to heal and transform relational dynamics, and deepen bonds and connections.
PRECAUTIONS & CONSIDERATIONS
While active breathwork is of value to anyone interested in healing, personal growth and self-realization, it's best suited for those who have some background in therapeutic and/or spiritual work, as this supports one's capacity to remain in a state of witnessing awareness while the body processes old energetic holdings.
As it can be physically and emotionally demanding, it is contraindicated for those who are pregnant, have severe hypertension or cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, bipolar disorders or schizophrenia, or recent major surgeries and/or communicable diseases.
If any of these apply to you, or if you have experienced significant trauma (or simply have questions about whether breathwork can support your desired intentions), please contact Tai for a consultation before registering for a session.