Have Questions about Shamanic Breathwork?

What Is Shamanic Breathwork?

Shamanic Breathwork is the specific breathing technique that I use in many of my guided meditations and is a stand-alone session when done fully as a Breathwork session. It is an active form of meditation that is done by breathing in and out of your mouth continuously, into your belly, in a rhythmic flow while being guided by a specific set of music and a facilitator.

When we intentionally breathe in this way we connect each inhalation to the exhalation without pausing and continuously breathe which over time changes our physiology and allows us to access altered states of consciousness or “‘non-ordinary states of being”.

By focusing our awareness on the breath we come into a deeper connection with our body and slowly allow the part of the mind that is always trying to analyze and figure out your life to slip into the background. As we build the breath and take in more oxygen, allowing this pranic life energy to flow through us we surrender to the body and its innate wisdom and intelligence.

 

IS BREATHWORK SAFE FOR EVERYONE?

Short answer. YES! Anybody regardless of age, ability, location-can participate in breathwork (this style can be done in varying intensities depending on the person). This practice is a very effective tool for navigating and learning to breathe through the ups and downs of everyday life.

The only caveat is if you are newly pregnant, have been diagnosed with bipolar, schizophrenia or other mood disorders, epilepsy, or have a heart condition that is currently not stable. If you fall into any of these categories it is recommended that you do so under the supervision/advisement of your doctor or therapist.

 

WILL I HYPERVENTILATE OR PASS OUT?

No. Though the breathing is rapid, you are NOT hyperventilating. The breath is done in a controlled way and that’s why I am here to guide you through.

As I tell all of my clients, you are ultimately in control of your journey. This is your breath! It is up to you how deep or shallow you want to take the breath and how intense or subtle you would like the experience to be.

 

WHAT IF I CLOSE MY MOUTH AT SOME POINT? IS THAT BAD?

Not at all! Breathing with our mouth open is not what we are normally used to so it is natural if your mouth gets dry or a build-up of salvia happens at the beginning. Therefore if closing your mouth to swallow allows you to move forward and “reset” your journey, then please do it! The goal of breathwork is to get us out of our heads and into our bodies therefore I always encourage that you do whatever the most comfortable thing is for you at the moment.

 

WHY DO WE BREATHE THROUGH THE MOUTH? I THOUGHT MOUTH BREATHING WAS BAD!

In this practice, we do breathe through the mouth simply to take in the most amount of oxygen we can in the shortest amount of time. This practice can also be done through the nose however for most people it will take a much longer time to build up the oxygen that way.

If you are looking at everyday breathing, then yes, you don’t want to breathe through your mouth all day long. It tends to be more stressful for your body than to breathe through your nose. So in the ideal case scenario, you breathe through your nose throughout the day and night and use mouth breathing to practice breathwork like this.


I HEARD SOMETIMES PEOPLE GET CRAMPY HANDS?

Sometimes when doing breathwork the odd person will experience something called Tetany where your hands get extra tingly or crampy. This can just be a sign that you might be exhaling out too much air. When you breath really fast or exhale too forcefully the amount of CO2 decreases in your body quickly causing the involuntary contraction of muscles.

If you notice this happening to you. Simply slow down your breathing, reduce the forcefulness or duration of exhales. You can also move/shake/massage hands or other body parts. This is a perfect moment to practice letting go of tension and trusting your body to guide you.

In the end, Tetany will not harm you nor will it last past the breathwork session.

 

DO PEOPLE CRY?

Sometimes, yes. This practice can be very supportive of emotional release. Because we are building up energy and breath in the body while letting go of tension and holding oftentimes old trapped emotion may come up to be released. Usually, this is less of a painful experience and more of a welcomed release leaving people feeling lighter after. Know that even if you cried or released one time you may not the next. Each breathwork experience is unique.

 

WILL I FALL ASLEEP? WHAT IF I YAWN?

Sometimes people can start to drift off during the session and may need to be called back to the breath to stay focused and committed. Yawning is welcomed. You are likely just releasing trapped energy. Often people describe the second half of the breathwork experience to be almost like sleeping while awake. Your body is in a deeply relaxed state but you are usually consciously aware of the sensations you are experiencing. It feels like floating in the best possible way.

 

WHAT IF I MESS UP THE BREATHING TECHNIQUE?

You really can’t mess it up. Know that this practice is less about technique and more about surrendering to the breath. We are trying to intentionally let go of the mind’s attachment to controlling the outcome of our experience so if we spend our whole breathwork session overthinking and judging ourselves for “doing it right” then we are missing the point.

 

WHAT IF IT FEELS HARD TO BREATHE?

At first, it likely will. We are breathing deeply into the belly and most of us are not really used to taking such deep breaths. The good news is that it doesn’t take long for your body to open and adjust to the heightened level of oxygen coming in. It usually takes the first 5-10 minutes just to get used to the breath and to move through some of the tightness and tension in the body so the breath can flow. This is an important part of the journey and over time will be healing to your breathing system helping you breathe in a deeper more nourishing way even outside of your sessions.

 

WHAT IF I CAN’T GET OUT OF MY HEAD?

Resistance is an important part of the journey. What we are really learning to do in breathwork is to notice the mind and just to focus elsewhere. I always recommend that people who feel they have a busy mind do some movement prior to the session. Dancing, squats, yoga, shaking, anything that helps ground you more into your body and shake off the day will help. Also once you start to breathe it’s helpful to focus your attention more on the body and the sensations in the body than what the mind is saying. It will say things at the beginning like “this is hard”, “is anything going to happen?”, “am I doing this right?”. That is a very normal part of the process. Eventually, it will give up and we will shift into the second chapter of our journey, beyond that small analytical mind.

Sometimes a little movement helps. Press your feet into the floor or shake your body side to side a bit. Make a sound. That can drop you more into your body.

 

WHAT IF TENSION AND PAIN COME UP IN MY BODY?

This is very normal. The places where you have held tension in your body have built up energy that, when we breathe in this way, will want to awaken and move through you. If you are open to it you can use your breath to let that tension go, especially on the exhale. Most people post breathwork say they feel so much lighter and looser in their bodies.

 

DO I NEED TO STAY STILL THE WHOLE TIME?

Not at all. This practice is meant to welcome and invite your body’s natural impulses to come to life and be expressed. You can move, shake, dance, flow, let your spine slither, your legs kick, whatever movement wants to come through I welcome you to follow it and see where it takes you. Remember, the body is very wise, it knows what it’s doing. I recommend getting out of the way and just letting it move.

 

WHAT IF I NEED TO GET UP OR DRINK WATER?

That’s a-okay. Go for it. Just take things slow. You may now realize it when you are laying down but you are likely in a bit of a trance/altered state so just move slowly as you get up or go to move.

 

WHAT WILL IT FEEL LIKE IN MY BODY?

It is different every time for each person, however, people often report feeling tingly or energy moving through their body. They may feel sinking sensations or floating sensations. Sometimes hot or cold. They may feel energy concentrated in one area of their body. This is a beautiful opportunity to explore and welcome the sensations into your body and see how they transform and shift as you breathe. Often from tight to open, heavy to light, contracted to expansion.

 

WHAT IF I FEEL HOT OR COLD?

Keep blankets nearby and wear layers. Usually if your temperature shifts during the session it doesn’t always stay for long.

 

HOW WILL I FEEL AFTER?

Typically people feel a sense of calm and clarity after. It mostly depends on the session and what came up. Sometimes people will feel alive and energized. I typically recommend people take it easy afterward and give themselves some space to just rest in the energy they have cultivated. Taking a bath or doing something creative is nice. Usually, people report feeling lighter and less anxious in the days following, often having deeper insights about their experience drop in.

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