It’s been almost one week since I experienced my first (virtual) breathwork session with Molly Rose and I’ve been wanting to write about my experience ever since. I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to express everything how I’d like to – it was truly such a profound experience!
Let me start by saying that if you asked me a year ago to try breathwork I likely would have thought it was a little out there for me and said no. It might not have been a hard no, or a forever no, but I would have tried to get out of going. I wasn’t ready. Being vulnerable around a bunch of people I don’t know – no thank you. I rarely even go to workout classes (it took me years to go to yoga) and I don’t go to the gym because the idea of people watching me and me not doing something “right” makes me cringe. I realize this is super silly and no one would be watching me (I’m working on it). All of this to say, I would not have been rushing to sign up to go to a breathwork session with a bunch of random strangers.
Before I get into my experience, I wanted to share with you a little bit about breathwork in case you haven’t heard of it before or want to learn more.
What is Breathwork?
Instead of blabbing on, I’m going to share an excerpt from Molly’s website that I think gives a nice overview:
Breathwork is an active meditation technique that shifts and alchemizes stuck energy in the body. Through the power of intentional breath we are able to enter an altered state of consciousness to access, process, and release emotional debris from our cellular memory. This may include working through conditioned behaviors, reprogramming subconscious limiting beliefs, unraveling past traumas, repressed emotions, and physical tension. Resulting in a recalibration of the nervous system, a feeling of clarity, elevation, and alignment. In this intuitively crafted container, you are given the space to peel back layers, to shed, release, and return to the authentic truth of your being.Molly Rose Yoga
“Our breathing takes place in our body,” Dr. Manne wrote. “Through breath awareness we can find the blockages in our body and by taking our breath to them, work with them and release them. There is no body work that can succeed without using the breath to support it.”
I should also mention that there are different kinds of breathwork and some are known to be more intense than others.
The Lead Up…
Now that you know a little bit about what this whole “breathwork” thing is, I’m going to share with you my experience (to the best of my ability).
As I mentioned, I did distance session via zoom with Molly Rose Yoga. I’ve heard people say that the experience of going to a group breathwork session (in person) is amazing because of the collective energy. I’ve also heard people say they had a hard time letting go, focusing on themselves, and getting “in it” because of all of the noise was overwhelming – people can cry, yell, etc. I knew that I would be the person that would focus on everyone but themselves in a group session, so when the opportunity to work with Molly arose I knew I had to jump on it! Breathwork one-on-one from the comfort of my own bed? Sign. Me. Up. Oh and yes, you heard me – my bed!
*photo not from day of breathwork – just to show where I experienced the breathwork (on my bed).
Anytime I’ve heard someone talk about their breathwork experience they have always described it as “powerful”. I always believed those people, but didn’t know if I would have the same experience so I honestly went in with zero expectations. I’m SO glad I went in with an open mind and didn’t put pressure on the outcome being a certain way because I think that’s why I was able to trust the process and surrender to the experience.
Before we began Molly briefly explained some of the that may or may happen throughout my experience and assured me that anything I feel is normal and to just do my best to keep breathing through it. I don’t remember everything she mentioned, but two things she mentioned that that stuck out to me were tingling and/or tightness in my lip and mouth area and that I might cry.
At that point I wasn’t really expecting to have those effects and was praying that I wouldn’t cry (I didn’t, but I almost laughed). She warned me that some people find the breathing uncomfortable and others are okay with it. She told me she would check in on how I was doing throughout and speak words of encouragement. After I got comfortable lying flat on my back, in bed, with my eyes closed, Molly explained the breathing technique and when I was ready she turned on calming music and we got started.
My mind-blowing experience…
The breathing was comprised of three parts – a sharp forceful breath into the belly followed by a sharp breath into the chest, followed by a longer exhale. All breath is in and out of the mouth. It took a less than a minute to get “comfortable”, or get the hang of, the breath. I began to feel the effects very quickly, and by the “effects” I mean the tingles. At first I noticed some very minor tingles beginning all over – my head, feet, hands, etc. I was shocked at how quickly I could feel the energy moving inside of and my frequency shifting.
I noticed the tingles in my lips getting more intense and then I realized that my mouth was really tight and my lips were starting to pucker a bit (uncontrollably). I continued to breathe through it and I was actually pleased that I was having such a physical reaction.
Before I knew it my whole body was pulsating. When I say full body I am not exaggerating in the slightest – the only part of my body that wasn’t tingling was my stomach – my head, face, lips, neck, shoulders, back, arms, hands, legs, feet, toes, EVERYTHING was pulsating. The feeling is almost indescribable. Tingling and pulsating seem to be the best descriptive words I can think of!
It was an odd feeling. I want to say it felt like an “out of body experience”, but the truth is that it is actually very much a FULL body experience rather than an out of body experience. I’m only inclined to say “out of body” because it’s truly like nothing I’ve ever felt before and it almost feels like it’s not my body since it’s such a foreign feeling. I say it’s a “full body” experience because your only focus is your breath and feeling whatever comes up – because of this you are very in tune with your body.
In under ten minutes I was having a hard time communicating clearly when Molly asked me how I was doing – I felt like I was slurring and every word took effort to speak clearly and pronounce properly. My mouth didn’t feel like my own. When we were debriefing afterwards I told her that how I felt when I was speaking is how I imagine that people must feel after a stroke when they are learning how to speak again.- it was the weirdest feeling!
In total the session lasted 30-35 minutes. I found I had no concept of time throughout the process.
At some point before the half way mark the feelings were getting very intense. If everyone feels the affects of breathwork as intensely as I did that they might have been a little stressed or concerned about the physical reactions that I was experiencing by this point. For some reason though, I felt cool as a cucumber and I was honestly super excited that I was feeling so deeply. I kept hoping that the physical reaction meant that some potent healing was going down with all that energy moving around so I was just surrendering to it all.
Molly instructed me to get vocal and let out some yells, cries, or whatever I felt compelled to release. I honestly found this very difficult because my mouth was so tight. I let out what probably sounded like some moans – it felt good and also slightly helped release a bit of the tension in my mouth (but not much).
Near the end I was truly just in awe that our breath can have such a profound effect on our mind, body and soul.
Coming on the last 1/3 of the session I wasn’t able to control my feet – they were totally locked up. My hands were also locked, but they were stuck in a weird claw shape and felt heavy as concrete, but at the same time like they were floating. After a while I realized that they were totally locked solid and that the were locked upwards so my hands actually were floating. This might sound crazy (and it felt crazy), but this is real ya’ll. Even just writing about it now blows my mind all over again.
It was such an incredibly powerful experience.
After 35 minutes Molly told me to return to my normal breath. She gave me a few minutes to regroup and ease back into the room. When I opened my eyes it felt like I was seeing my room for the first time. Everything seemed to vibrate for 30 seconds or so and it made the tingling sensations in my face stronger for a moment.
We started to debrief and I stayed lying down as it felt most comfortable to me. I still didn’t have control of my legs, arms, hands or mouth. After a few minutes I was able to prop myself up so we I could look into the camera and actually see Molly while we spoke. It took at least 5-10 minutes to regain control of my mouth and left hand. I didn’t really feel fully comfortable with my speech for about ten minutes. My left hand stayed locked for at least ten minutes and felt quite weird for about 25 minutes. When I first touched my left hand with my right after opening my eyes it didn’t even feel like my own hand and I couldn’t really feel the touch – it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced. The tingles in the rest of my body wore off in about 5 minutes. I felt so rejuvenated after our session and honestly like a different person (in a good way).
*When I say tingles this isn’t comparable to pins and needles (which I find very uncomfortable) when your foot is asleep – I just wanted to note that!
While I wouldn’t describe breathwork as a comfortable experience, it is one of those “find comfort in the discomfort” experiences – if that makes sense. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even when I couldn’t feel parts of my body or when the breathing started to get a little bit difficult. It felt good in the weirdest way. I felt powerful and present. It was a beautiful experience and I will absolutely do it again.
Medical vs Spiritual
There is science to back up what happens to our bodies during Breathwork – I’ll let you Google that one on your own though. I’m also not going to delve too deep into the spiritual significance of what comes up for people in breathwork. For the sake of this blog I just wanted to mention a few things for those of you who are interested in the woo like moi!
While both of my hands were pulsating like crazy and were totally locked up and out of my control, my right hand started to ease up when my feet did near the last few minutes. I did find it a bit odd that my left hand was only intensifying while other parts of my body were starting to ease off in those last 2-3 minutes of breath, but I was just going with the flow. Afterwards when Molly and I were talking about why my left hand had such a strong reaction, she pointed out that the left side of the body has to do with the divine feminine. This is interesting to me because I know that I have blocks with some of those aspects of myself (which I had not told Molly) and my locked hand was physical confirmation of this. I have been working through those blocks recently. It was really neat to see physical proof of my blocks and I saw it as encouragement to keep working through it.
From a spiritual perspective breathwork helps move stuck & stagnant energy in the body and can help increase self-awareness and heal past traumas that our bodies have been holding onto over time. It truly improves overall wellbeing and I found it very healing and almost therapeutic! Afterwards I definitely felt a shift and I like to believe that it helped me release negative/stuck energy and created a flow for positive energy to take it’s place.
If you’re considering breathwork I 100% recommend it! If you’re reading this and think I’m crazy, maybe you just aren’t ready for it yet. I personally think that breathwork is something that people should do when they are ready and feel called to do it. I don’t think it would be as beneficial for someone who didn’t truly feel that they wanted to try it – it would also be difficult to surrender and reap the benefits if you were skeptical.
Although the immediate benefits and wore off within about 12 hours and the physical side affects dissappeared within a half hour, I do think that this new perspective has stayed with me. Sometimes it’s nice when the spritual world and the physical world collide, and you can physically feel spiritual work at play. That might not make sense to everyone, but if you know, you know.
I’d loooove to hear about your breathwork experiences in the comments. Feel free to ask any questions about my experience if you have them!