As we count down the days to Unfold, our day-long holistic healing and well-being retreat in Seattle, we thought it helpful to offer a tutorial on a modality included in the day that we have the least experience with: breathwork. While we are no strangers to its benefits, we have heard transformative raves from many devotees, it is something we have not personally practiced.
With that in mind, we asked Josephine Edmondson, our breathwork guru for Unfold, about her entry into this work, how she knew breath was her "ultimate healing superpower", and the healing benefits one can expect from integrating breathwork into their wellness routine.
For those who are not in the know or who might be vaguely familiar with breathwork , will you please explain its origins and how you use it in your healing practice?
There are many different types of breathwork! The type of breathwork I practice / teach is a method created by my teacher David Elliott. It is an active meditation where you do a circular breathing pattern through the mouth for anywhere between 7-45 minutes. This type of breathwork is meant to activate, confront and shift your way of being.
What attracted you to this work and how have the various healing modalities you work within impacted your life?
I've known for a long time that breath is my ultimate healing superpower. I started practicing Kundalini yoga over ten years ago. A practice built around breath, repetition and endurance. It was the gateway for me to see how much I was capable of shifting using the power of my breath. I learned how to get high off my own supply. I was introduced to David Elliott's breathwork a few years ago through a friend and after a really powerful, wild, major healing I never looked back.
It's hard to answer the question of how have the various healing modalities impacted my life... This feels like too big of a question to answer here! In short healing is my life. Everything is woven into my healing work, I don't compartmentalize any of it. All modalities from yoga, reiki, meditation, kundalini and breathwork have taught me how to love myself (I know cringeworthy) but true! How to LOVE so deeply. How to be with pain, how to hold others in pain. How to take a breath. It's all in me all the time.
How does breathwork move and shift "things" that are stuck? Are what are the benefits one might experience due to that movement?
Our brains want so badly to understand wtf is happening when we do breathwork. I could go there scientifically, but some things are better left to be experienced. You won't understand how breathwork shifts "things" until you breathe! You have to commit to it. You have to feel it. You have to go along for the ride. David says, "breathe until you surprise yourself". You will get out of it what you put in. It's all you! The breath is a confronting thing, it's the first thing we do when we come into this world and the last thing we do when we leave. IT HOLDS IT ALL! Every moment of your life where you have held your breath, not used your voice, not processed what needed to be processed... it all comes out during breathwork. All the beauty, all the pain and all the in-between. For me, the benefits have been all over the place. My brain feels more balanced. I have less extreme highs and lows. I recover quicker from being depressed. I LOVE people so much more!
Is there one breath exercise you rely on and can do anytime/anywhere to get a quick alignment? If yes, are you willing to share that with us?
That would be David Elliot's three part breath. Using the mouth to breathe (no nose) inhale a big breath to your low belly, carry it up to the high chest take in another breath and exhale through the mouth. In... In... Out. It's that simple! And yet there is so much there.