My experience with 2 part breathing Breath Work! ♥
The first breath work class I went to I did not know what I was walking into. I had signed up for a Sculpt (yoga with weights in a heated room) class, and then was planning on sticking around for the ‘Meditation and Sound Bath’ later that evening. I have attended some meditation classes (especially when I was in India getting Yoga Certified, we explored many different kinds of meditation), and I know that a Sound Bath comprises of different instruments such as gongs, bowls, and other sacred sound making devices. I was fully expecting to be laying down, listening to the sound of the gongs, having an instructor take me away explaining every body part to relax, easing my mind into a place of serenity and simplicity.
While this was how the class started, everyone first spoke and shared their name and intention, then the singing bowl music started. All seemed normal. – This was when the instructor Antwan – one of my favorite instructors ever- laid on his back and demonstrated this sort of ‘2-part breathing’ technique that I had never seen before.
I had come to this meditation class that day because I was having a particularly hard time with pent up emotions, going through a breakup, and trying to let go of old feelings and ideas of how things should be, or how they could have been. I had no idea that I was walking into what would be one of the craziest experiences of my life I have had – not on a substance. I can easily say that breath work had more of a mental impact and a ‘high’ than any form of yoga or meditation has ever brought me to. And I’ve tried a lot of different ways! 😛
Anyways, so Antwan is showing us this two part breathing where you breathe in through the belly filling it up, then breathing into the chest, and finally exhaling out of the mouth. You open the mouth and take quick deep inhales (2), followed by a quick exhale – all in and out of the mouth.
At first I found this breath a little difficult to keep up with, taking a lot of mental effort to keep the pace going strong and feeling the effects of some dry mouth and I breathed in and out through my mouth. I was wondering, how long is this going to go on? Will I have to do this for the entire 45 minutes remaining in class? The first time you experience something it always seems the longest as you don’t know what is coming next or where you are going.
After about 3-4 minutes I really started to feel my body loosen up and energy begin to move in my body. My arms and chest started to tingle and felt energetic, my lips tingled intensely, and my hands started to clamp into a position I had no idea what they were doing. Continuing the breathing for about ten minutes my palms were cramping so badly that I had to sit on them under my butt! They hurt so much I was actually scared I was causing some damage or that what I was experiencing was out of the normal.
Thankfully Antwan kept guiding us through this practice, encouraging us to keep up the pace of our breath to ‘bypass the mind’ and feel the full range of sensations this practice has to offer. Maintaining my breath I started to go through waves of difficulty followed by ease, as I ebbed and flowed in this new pattern the effects started to take root. Focusing on my breathing and not giving up until the end of the practice. Thankfully I have cultivated a decently headstrong practice, having toughed my way through enough hot yoga classes to KNOW that I can hold the pose that extra ten seconds, or that I can breath and change my mindset into ease no matter what.
Towards the end of the practice we were instructed to start slowing our breathing down and begin to open our eyes, still following the two part breath, with singing bowls and gongs playing in the background. A wave of emotions, deep intense, core-bound emotion flowed through me and reached the deepest parts of my existence. As many people do their first time, I cried, a deep sobbing shaking kind of cathartic cry that only happens in the most deep and careless moments. I didn’t know exactly why I was crying (even though I’m sure I could have pin pointed some exact reasons), but instead of analyzing I just let myself feel these deep covered up emotions and let them flow through me and out of me.
At this point, I was still laying on my hands as they were still in a lot of pain from the “lobster claw” effect I had fully experienced. I laughed a little at what had just happened, one of the most profound experiences of my life – and I don’t say this lightly!!! We laid there for a few more minutes as the music continued, my breathing began to normalize, and a cold wet towel was placed on my forehead letting all of my facial muscles relax and hide from the setting sun peeking through the large glass windows.
When we finally finished and sat up in a seated position, facing each other in the circle we had started in I felt the most unique sense of oneness I have ever experienced. It was like when I opened my eyes I did not see any disconnect from me or the person next to me, across from me, or anyone in the world. For a few minutes I felt as if my ego was completely destroyed and I truly wondered how I could help others and what I could do to improve the world. Realizing that I could make more of an impact helping others than I could myself (as I am just one person) I felt totally and completely surrounded by love and acceptance.
As others began to speak about their journey and experience I realized that I was not alone, and mine was not the worst!! Some people clench so hard that not only do they get the hand cramping lobster claws, but their arms cross, legs can cross, and entire body spasms can occur. More scientific bases will be covered below and why these reactions occur – to me, it is a mix of science, chemistry and also an intense spiritual cleansing and awakening. Believe what you want, but the effects were so profound and real I have been back every week (except once) for the past 2 months. The one week I did miss I was so sad! Never have I felt THAT strongly about a yoga class. And I love it a fuckin’ lot.
Needless to say, this type of breathwork I highly recommend trying out some classes or following my audio recording / youtube demonstration and seeing for yourself the life changing results that await after your first session.
xoxo, ♥ Marisa L. Moonbeamz