There is power in your breath. We might not think of breathing to be a modality when it comes to healing because it’s something that just happens naturally, without thought. But the practice of breathwork is more than your typical day-to-day breathing.
Breathwork is intentional. It is meditation. It can unlock emotions that are buried deep within. Once you release those emotions, though, new light is able to come in and you can come out the other side in an improved state of mind.
Sara Silverstein guides people through this work to improve better breathing patterns that can ultimately improve conditions such as anxiety and depression. You can learn more about Sara and her work here:
What made you want to get into this field?
I originally didn’t want to get into this field. I was working 60+ hours a week in a job that had a paycheck that I thought I had always desired. When I was in burnout from work, someone suggested that I try Breathwork. After one session I was hooked. I began practising weekly and felt a profound shift. Six months into my practice, someone asked me when I was going to go to training? I hadn’t considered it but then I thought to myself, why not? I wanted to understand on a deeper level so I signed up for my first teacher training.
I never thought I would be a full time working Breathwork Guide.
We never know what the future holds but I am grateful that I listened to the little voice inside of me that told me to go to training and subsequently I have done many more and I have since created a method that results in profound transformation.
What has been your favorite aspect of this work?
Time and time again I am blown away by the strength and tenacity of people. We spend so much of our life fighting to get through situations just to survive so when someone makes the decision to fearlessly look at the trauma that they have been suppressing – I am overwhelmed with emotion.
Watching people transform their lives by learning how to listen to their bodies is magnificent. I always remind clients that they are their own healers. They are doing the work. I am just showing them a technique and holding space for their healing.
We frequently forget how powerful we are. Watching the light come back on in people’s souls will forever be my favourite thing to witness in this field.
Can you explain what breathwork is and what a typical session is like from start to finish?
Transformational Breathwork is an active form of meditation meant to bring about an emotional release. There are hundreds of forms of Breathwork that date back to ancient times in India. Pranayama has been used for eons and what I facilitate has the bones from that along with the teachings of doctors from the 1970s.
There is no “typical” Breathwork Session. Every time a client walks into my healing room they are coming in as whoever they are in that present moment. I spend time verbally connecting before we get into the breathing techniques. Each session is specifically designed for where you are currently at and what your body needs. I take into consideration your mental stability, the health of your nervous system and what it is that it seems like you need to process. I utilize over 20 forms of breathing, somatic body touch and other healing tools. Clients will do a form of deep breathing for 20 minutes or so and then will have a rest period where they get to reap the benefits of their hard work. We conclude the session with a brief recap and then they are on their way!
Each Breathwork Journey should meet the client where they are. I believe I have been placed on this earth to facilitate internal growth for individuals so I will create an experience that I believe will lead them towards finding more joy and fulfilment in life.
What sort of health challenges can breathwork be effective for and why?
Most individuals don’t breathe properly. We taught ourselves how to become high chest breathers which lead us to live in our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) which then leads us to heightened anxiety and mood swings. Breathwork is perfect for those who struggle with anxiety and depression because when we give our bodies what it craves (adequate oxygen) we can begin to thrive again.
Other challenges it can be useful for is – asthma, mental clarity, challenged immune system, digestive issues, temporary body pain – the list can go on and on. Basically, we need to breathe properly so we can function properly. People overlook the importance of breathing and shrug it off as we do it naturally – which we do. But it is something that requires attention and care so the body can be in harmony.
Is there a technique or modality in your practice that you have found to be the most beneficial to the people you work with?
Breathing is my modality.
I use 20+ different breathing techniques based on each individual’s needs. I do a scan of their nervous system and then create a program for them that I think will positively impact their lives.
What is breathwork like from the patient’s point of view?
Every scenario is different. I meet people where they are at when they walk into my healing room. I cannot speak for the people that I work with but my hope is that they feel safe and supported the whole way through. For the work to be effective it requires a level of vulnerability with me so I do my best to hold space in an effective way that allows people to unfold and share what they are comfortable with. I find sessions to be most effective when individuals share freely what they are experiencing so I can best create a session for them. The breathing portion usually results in body sensations, visualizations and whatever else needs to move. Most people feel a sense of clarity, calm and lightness at the end of the session.
What would you say to someone skeptical about breathwork and its effectiveness? How do you approach that?
I was a skeptic when I got into this realm, too. I thought we all breathe naturally – why do I need to spend time on this? I’ve now learned the vast importance of breathing correctly so I approach it with an open heart and open mind.
When I meet a fellow skeptic, I try to remember that I was in their shoes not too long ago. I simply ask them if they are willing to give me an hour of their time to profoundly transform their existence?
Most people are desperate to find a modality that works for them and the gift of Breathwork is that it has an immediate effect. We live in a world where we crave instant gratification and Breathwork is undeniably a modality that will leave you feeling something by the end of your first session.
I never push this modality on anyone because I think your intuition leads you exactly where you need to be so if someone is inquiring about Breathwork I know that they have an inner knowing that has guided them to converse with me and I give them the autonomy to decide if this is what they want. I never try to sell Breathwork. The person needs to be convinced that they are ready to try something new and make the decision themselves. Again, I am just teaching the practice and it is up to them to do the work.
But I have joyfully never had a client do what I have asked of them and not had a profound experience. Now it may not have been the experience they had created expectations for but everyone leaves feeling a little more connected to themselves.
Besides breathwork do you have any universal health and well-being tips that you’d like to share?
Trust that there is a bigger picture at play and that you know exactly what you need. Trust yourself above all.
I only talk about what I know and that is Breathwork. I leave the rest up for the other experts out there.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to someone who is struggling, what would it be?
Know that everything is temporary and there is endless support and love out there for you. Utilize your network and be open to trying things that may not make sense to you. Take a leap of faith, trust that you’ll be carried and if you ever need someone to listen – I am here for you.
What resources would you recommend? (books, podcasts, websites that you’ve found helpful)
The Power of Breathwork by Jennifer Patterson
Just Breathe by Dan Brule
Breath by James Nestor
Breathe by Dr. Belisa Vranich
Our breath isn’t usually something we pay too much attention to, but it’s a very important factor when it comes to overall health and wellbeing. Shocking your system by diving deep into breathwork can cause an intense emotional release, but will help you come out lighter at the end.
Learn more about Sara and her work here:
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