I have suffered from depression and anxiety for the past 11 years and have tried many methods to improve my mental health including microdosing shrooms, therapy, and journaling. They all helped me improve in some kind of way, but it wasn’t until I met this wonderful woman by the name of Andrea who introduced me to breathwork and it changed my world.
“Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. If you change your thinking, you change your life”- Priayash Tiwari
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork can be describe as a series of exercises of controlled breathing techniques that brings awareness to your breath and throughout your whole body. People who practice breathwork may experience tingling sensations throughout the body, feelings of alertness and clarity, connection between mind, soul, and body, and emotional release.
My first experience doing Breathwork
After the pandemic, I was pretty depressed and felt a lot of anxiety about losing all my jobs and not knowing what to do. I was far away from family and really needed emotional support. That’s when I stumbled upon an invite to a trial breathwork workshop that I found through my Asian Women Empowerment group. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I showed up for my breathwork workshop. I met Andrea who was one of the few Asian Americans’ breathwork facilitator in Los Angeles. She gave us the breakdown of what the session would be like and by the end of the session, I was the one breaking down in tears.
She guided us through a meditation and told us how to breath from our belly to our chest and out through our mouths, repeatedly. She gave us a visualization guide where we had to dig deep into our hearts and release whatever emotions are coming out. I didn’t think much would come out of it, until 10 minutes in, I started crying and the tears wouldn’t stop. It felt as if 11 years of suppressed anger, pain, and sadness was flowing out of me. I had no idea how much I was holding inside of me, and one session was not enough to cry out all of those years of emotional pain and trauma. I knew breathwork would be the key in helping me overcome my depression and I end up joining Andrea’s 8-week Cycle Breaker Breathwork program. It was truly life-changing.
Side effects of Breathwork-
Hyperventilating- the breathing techniques felt as if I was hyperventilating or about to go into a panic attack mode, except I was in control. It felt safe to release and my body started to shake whatever negative energy was on me off. If it got too much, she would calmly ask us to slow our breathing down until we felt in control.
Tingly Sensations & Lobster Claw Hands- Now I know you are wondering what in the world are lobster claw hands? Well it’s one side effect of breathwork that happens when cramping and tightness occurs in the hands or around the mouth, also known as tetany. Tetany is when the muscles contract and releases C02 from our bodies causing us to cramp up and tighten on our hands. People will start to feel tingly sensations throughout the body and hands clamp together like a “lobster claw”. This was consider a normal side effect but it does not apply to everyone who does breathwork. This effect meant we were about to release whatever stuck energy was inside of us out.
Emotional Release & Healing- The best part of breathwork practice is honestly crying it all out. Society and cultural traditions especially in Asian culture has giving us the idea that emotions were a sign of weakness and have taught us to suppress our emotions instead of expressing them. Most people do not understand that when we suppress our emotions, we are only stuffing it down our bodies and causing more tension to arise. Breathwork gives us a safe space to let all of that pent-up energy inside come out without having us to explain or talk about it. It allows us to process our emotions and heal from within.
Increase confidence, self-esteem, and awareness- After releasing so much tension and energy from our bodies, it feels as if a weight has been lifted off our shoulders and we can begin to start feeling like ourselves again. After my first session, I felt so much more clarity with myself and more motivated to push myself to be a better version of me. I became aware of my habits and felt more confident and secure with who I am.
How Breathwork Transformed My Life-
In our 8-week group program, I was grouped with other Asian Americans who were going through similar experiences that I have. Women and men who have been affected by families, cultures, society, and the pressure to be successful. It was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one experiencing feelings of inadequacy, depression, and frustration. We all were going through it together and as the weeks went by, we cried together, we shared our experiences, and we learn to be vulnerable through this process.
I had come to a realization that a lot of the issues I was experiencing had to do with my own personal beliefs and my perspective of the world. I was living in a victim mentality and it was me who had held on to resentment and fears for all those years. Andrea had not only helped us breath all the emotions out but she guided us to understand our emotions, our feelings, and help us find the solutions on how to deal with them and break the cycle of karma that our families had pass down.
I learn to be more open and tend to the relationships that I have in my life. I had enough courage to talk to my family about my depression and open up about all the problems I had experience as a child. It wasn’t easy to do because it was so hard to let my family know that I was struggling. I never wanted them to worry but I realized, I couldn’t take on life on my own and that I needed their support to really feel like myself again. My family wasn’t upset or frustrated at all for me speaking my truth and in fact, they became more supportive and understanding. It felt as if opening up was all it took for them to show their love and support in a way that I felt appreciated for. Now I have such an amazing relationship with them and our family bond is stronger than ever.
I even mended my relationships with people I held resentment for by showing compassion, love, and owning up to my mistakes. I’ve had difficult conversations that led to forming stronger connections and I learn to appreciate my friends and family on a much deeper level. Breathwork truly transform me and I can’t even imagine the woman I was before doing breathwork. I never felt more secured in my life and now I feel feelings of love, gratitude, and joy all around and in the relationships I do have.
Is Breathwork Safe to do?
From my own personal experience, I never felt in danger or unsafe. I had an amazing facilitator online and she really made us feel welcome and allowed us to be ourselves. It’s important you find a professional who is experienced in doing breathwork and one you feel comfortable with. I appreciated that my facilitator was a woman of Asian descent because she was someone I could relate too.
You are open and vulnerable during breathwork and it’s important that you find someone who can offer you a safe space to allow the breathwork to take place. Understand what breathwork is and if you have any heart conditions or respiratory issues, do talk with your physician or doctor before attempting breathwork.
If you do decide to do breathwork, know that a lot of doors will open up for you and you will have to face those inner demons, but just know it’s all part of the healing process and your world is going to change from the inside out. If you feel that therapy and other ways are not working, I do recommend giving this holistic approach of breathwork a try and see how it helps you heal from within.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and if you have questions in regards to breathwork or would like to connect and discuss more on it, feel free to schedule a coaching call with me through my linktree- https://linktr.ee/intentjen
For information on my breathwork facilitator, Andrea, you can schedule a consultation call with her as well and highly recommend doing her cycle breaking program! — https://linktr.ee/inbusinessandlife