Take a breath?

I have had a hard time with breathing “properly” as long as I can remember. A couple of examples that stand out in my memory are from swimming lessons as a child, when it became apparent that the reason that I couldn’t swim more than one length of the pool was that despite sticking my head up for air in the prescribed motion, I wasn’t actually inhaling, and so by the end of the pool I would be hyperventilating and need to take a moment to catch my breath and recover before turning around for another lap. As a teen my family took a vacation to a beach resort and I tried the scuba lessons offered in the pool. The instructor made me promise that I would NEVER attempt to scuba dive. I assumed it was more of the same not really breathing (especially near or under water) that led to this strong position, but in neither situation was I given any instruction that helped me breathe better, just awareness of the ways that I wasn’t doing it right.

I had a couple of near drowning incidents that may have contributed to the breathing issues around and in the water, but I have found similar issues come up in yoga classes, attempts to follow breath work exercises and in guided meditations where the instructions are to breathe- whether in a certain way, or into a certain part of the body, following any sort of pattern. I don’t know if it is some sort of western cultural failing, a ND interoception issue, challenges in consciousness communicating with the sympathetic systems of my body, frequent periods of sinus congestion, impacts of my concave chest cavity, experience with unsafe binding that broke a rib, or now the bands of scar tissue that lie across parts of my chest in place of my tits. Best guess is really that all of those things contribute in their own ways, but I had long wondered how and when I might find some clues that could help me breathe better.

I knew that insufficient breathing was probably also contributing to nervous system regulation challenges, fatigue, emotional release and more. But what was I to do about that? I breathe, without thinking about it. Not great, but when I thought too much about it it seemed to get worse. I would get all confused, following instructions I would almost always end up inhaling when I was supposed to exhale, and then get flustered, flipped around and be thrown off altogether because of the falling out of timing.

When I was offered a chance to test run the online course “Sensing and Knowing the Diaphragm” I jumped on the opportunity. I did initially find myself twisted and turned around. Something about the way that the diaphragm pulls down to draw air in, and contracts up to expel air out got me twisted in a way that felt akin to backing up a trailer. The way that the wheel is turning is the opposite of the outcome, and my spacial sense, perceived in this mirror image of my brains expectation caused some fluster. Working through the activities in the course though, the visualizations and practices to better understand what the diaphragm (and it’s counterpart muscle the pelvic floor) were doing inside my body did eventually land. Along with anatomy nerd outs, cross cultural & spiritual significance, and practices to gradually build relationship with the muscle responsible for drawing each breath in- I think I finally found something that could help.

I highly recommend this course to anyone who breathes and wants to understand that better. I especially recommend this course to anyone who is a body worker, coach, yoga teacher, swim instructor, midwife, doula, or other position that may be in the position of asking folks to “BREATHE”. This course can offer another layer of tools and perspectives to help communicate what it is we are asking for in that instruction as well as deeper significance of what else is happening esoterically, physiologically and emotionally with each in and out of this thing we call ‘air’.

Sensing and Knowing the Diaphragm (Self-Paced, 3 hours self-care CEUs Pending)

The link above will take you to the course through an affiliate link that rewards me for sending you there. Thanks for using this link if you sign up for the course.

The course is offered by Unwind Oakland, which is Suz Vera, who holds a M. Sci in Online Education from UC Berkley and is a Certified Massage Therapist who is currently a part of creating new treatment paradigms through Ketamine and psychedelic assisted massage therapy protocols.

She currently has another course on offer, of special relevance to body workers and those involved in psychedelic medicine: Introduction to Psychedelic Conversations and the Massage Table (Self-Paced, 1 hour ethics CEU pending)

You can purchase a package with both courses here, both of which offer me affiliate earnings.

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