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Frequently Asked
Questions

Important: While I am a Certified SomatIQ™ Breathwork Practitioner, a Jon Paul Crimi Certified Breathwork Teacher, and an individual in active recovery, it is important to note that I am not a medical professional or licensed mental health professional. These questions and answers are for informational and educational purposes only. This information should not be taken as medical advice or used as a substitute for such. You should always speak to your own physician or mental health support team before implementing this information on your own. Thank you!

Are there contraindications for participating in breathwork?

Yes. In health and medicine, a contraindication is a condition that serves as a reason not to take part in a certain treatment due to the harm that it could cause the individual. If you have a history of:

  • Cardiovascular problems

  • Heart attacks / Stroke

  • Glaucoma

  • Retinal detachment

  • Osteoporosis

  • Aneurysms

  • Epilepsy or seizures

  • Recent surgery

  • Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or another severe psychiatric condition

  • Pregnancy (this may vary with circumstance based on trimester, but I do not personally work with pregnant women at this time)

Breathwork may not be a good fit for you, but you can always reach out to your physician for a professional opinion.

Some of these conditions may be okay with certain exceptions:

  • High Blood Pressure (must be controlled with medication)

  • Thyroid problems (must be controlled with medication)

  • Diabetes (must be controlled with medication)

  • Asthma (consult your physician and bring your inhaler if approved)

When in doubt, I'd encourage you to reach out to your physician and see if they believe breathwork would be a good fit for your personal needs.

What's the goal of breathwork?

Breathwork is a powerful tool to have in any mental health toolkit. The mind, body, and soul, are deeply connected through the nervous system. Many of us with mental health issues struggle with being too attached to our mind and dissociated from our bodies. This imbalance frequently results in dis-ease within the body, resulting in symptoms like anxiety, depression, stress, and sometimes even manifesting as chronic pain. The breath helps us slow down and feel things more, reconnecting with our body and ultimately helping regulate our nervous system to a state of homeostasis. Regulating our nervous system has a variety of benefits including:

  • Lowering blood pressure (high blood pressure is a major contributor to heart disease)

  • Lowering stress levels, increasing feelings of relaxation (stress buildup can result in anxiety and depression)

  • Supporting a stronger immune system (stress has been shown to suppress the immune system's natural defense response)

 

Regulating the nervous system is important for anyone, but especially individuals who have encounter stress regularly or survived trauma of any kind. Our bodies can often become frozen in a heightened state (fight, flight, freeze, or fawn) when exposed to trauma or stress. When we better understand the breath and how it affects different parts of our nervous system, we can be more proactive in regulating our own body on a daily basis.

For example, if you're anxious and have the awareness to check in with your breath, you might notice you're taking short breaths, or even holding your breath. When you become more aware of your breath, you can start to recognize when your body might be entering a heightened state and observe the emotional reaction and sensations in your body. If there is not an immediate threat or danger, you can help calm your body by using deep, relaxing breaths that help activate your body's parasympathetic nervous system (tied to relaxation).

In addition to having the tools to help your body cope with stress and anxiety, becoming more aware of your bodily sensations and emotions can also mean you are more empowered to identify the root causes of these sensations and feelings as they arise. We practice a 3 step check-in during every breathwork session to help build our body's resilience and awareness so we can feel empowered to regulate our own nervous system outside of the studio or virtual space.

What's better for me: a private 1:1, a virtual group, or an in-person group class?

This will ultimately come down to personal preference. I lead the same class themes in-person and online.

 

If you have past trauma that affects your ability to express yourself around others, a virtual session might make you feel more comfortable. If you have fears and anxiety around leaving your house or driving to unfamiliar places, then a virtual session might be the best place to start.

 

That being said, in-person sessions can also be incredibly empowering. When you hear others expressing themselves fully (which can include yelling, screaming, or crying), it can act as a permission slip to your subconscious that it is okay and safe to feel, allowing you to express yourself in ways you may not be able to in a virtual session.

 

That also goes both ways though, and if you've been exposed to trauma that makes it hard for you to be around others' emotions, then an in-person class might be overwhelming and trigger subconscious walls in a different way.

 

Ultimately, I'd encourage you to pick where you believe you will be most comfortable. The more comfortable and safe you feel, the more likely you are to release. 

Is breathwork a suitable replacement for therapy?

Breathwork can be a powerful alternative for some people, but it really depends on where you're at in your healing journey.

I like to think of breathwork as an additional tool in our mental health toolkit. We all need a different set of tools and some of us need more tools than others at different times in our lives. There are times in life where we'll only need one tool, and there are times in our life where we might need to lean on two, three, or even four tools. It all depends where you're at and when it comes to mental health, there is no 'one size fits all.'

For example, I'm currently at a place in my life where I rely almost solely on breathwork (and some trusty Dialectical Behavior Therapy [DBT] skills when on occasion); but in 2022, I was at a place in my life where I needed to rely on 4 different tools to survive my every day: therapy, medication, breathwork, and DBT skills. Different times in my life, different tools.

One of the goals of breathwork is to slow down and feel emotions fully, which can mean difficult emotions resurface. Reconnecting with our body after extended periods of dissociation, it can start to feel like those emotions are back--which is a good thing--but some of those feelings, especially related to self-harm, substance abuse, physical abuse, sexual assault, or severe PTSD, can be more difficult to manage once they've been brought to the surface for release. It's okay to acknowledge that sometimes we can be presented with emotions that we don't know how to process. We suppressed those emotions to survive, but if we weren't taught the tools to help manage them if they linger for more than a week after a session, that can be understandably difficult. In those cases, we'd want to lean on the support of a licensed therapist.

When I started breathwork, I was actively in talk therapy once a week and on medication for depression and anxiety. A huge breakthrough for me in one of my breathwork sessions was pushing past the pure anger related to my father that abandoned me, and identifying this feeling as a deep sadness, and ultimately--grief. But I had never had to face grief as an adult, and didn't feel equipped with the tools to understand this emotion or how to even begin to process it, especially when the person was still walking amongst us...what kind of grief is that? Working with a therapist, I was able to find in-depth exercises to help support me in this process.

My messages are always open to anyone who wants to talk about what came up for them during or after a session, and I always make myself available after class; but I'm also not a licensed therapist, nor do I pretend to be. I'm always happy to share the tips and tricks I've learned in my years working with therapists and participating in DBT, but there are instances where I may refer you to our network of mental health professionals to help process what comes up for you if I feel you can benefit from extra support.

Why is working with a therapist while attending consistent breathwork sessions valuable?

Breathwork and therapy together can be an incredibly powerful duo.

 

After 18 years in therapy, I felt like I was at a wall with talk therapy. I had explained my childhood to one therapist after the next, usually after breaks in between insurance changes and job swaps. Eventually I was talking about the same every day stressors and toxic work environment, and not really getting to any kind of breakthrough and still feeling depressed. Ultimately, I think there was a people pleaser in me that didn't want to dig deeper than that, but my symptoms kept manifesting and I eventually developed PTSD and sleep avoidant behaviors from that same work environment. Desperate to sleep again, I told my therapist I was going to try a breathwork class. She encouraged me to attend, saying that getting in touch with my body again may help us make progress. So I tried a breathwork class. It changed my life. I had so much release and also so much come up that I wanted to talk to my therapist about. Memories I'd forgotten. Feelings I couldn't place when my mind consumed me. It was with the power of breathwork and therapy together that I was able to dig deeper at the wounds that had been suppressed since my childhood. Being able to talk through those and fully process them with a therapist, with breathwork in my back pocket, I finally felt equipped with the tools to help regulate my nervous system. After 8 months of therapy and breathwork together, I no longer needed medication to help manage my depression or anxiety, and graduated from years of back to back therapy, on my own terms--something I had never done in the 18 years I had been seeing therapists, psychiatrists, and taking more meds than I could recall.

I had something come up that I'd like to talk to a therapist about. Do you have any therapist recommendations?

Yes! Trusted friends and community members have worked together to put a list of therapists and alternative therapy options that they've personally had positive experiences with. You might find this helpful if you're in the Austin area. We even have options for those without insurance (because we've all been there). Visit this page to get all those details.

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512-991-CALM (2256)

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