I invite you to stop for a moment and watch your breath. It's really hard to watch it without changing it, but just, if you can, check it to see how you are breathing today. Just a couple of breaths. Where are you breathing from? Where is the air moving to? Which parts of your body are involved in that movement? If you want, you could start to ask yourself if the way that you are breathing is making you feel calm and grounded, or is it making you feel tight, worried or anxious. (If you'd rather not stop and watch your breath, that's ok, too. No problem.)
This is the stuff that I love: breathing. When I started yoga years and years ago we did a lot of pranayama and my teacher always talked about breath, but I only recently realised that not everyone leaves a class like that and thinks about their breath on the 40 minute walk home.
Three years ago I walked into a weekend workshop with Jane Clapp called Movement for Trauma. I'd been thinking about the brain, the nervous system, how our movements were influenced by our trauma (and vice versa) and was really looking for some guidance on how to help people. Although I hadn't thought about it, I was also trying to help myself, as I was in the middle of an extended period of chronic stress. Chronic stress doesn't look the same on the outside as a traumatic event does, but the internal impact of chronic stress can feel just the same. Take a moment and let that sink in: chronic stress, something that might look like nothing, but is happening every day, over a long period of time, can impact your nervous system in the same way a traumatic event can.
I found a spot on the floor next to a woman who had her arm in a sling. I introduced myself, "Hi! I'm Jennifer." She responded, "Hi. I'm also Jennifer." We laughed. (Jennifers everywhere understand this, as we are, literally, everywhere.) The Jennifer I had sat down next to was Jenn Cardoso, and by the end of the weekend we knew that we'd be connecting again in the future. But, first, we each had some work to do.
The weekend had ended with a speaker on a breathing technique called Buteyko. Steve Donald had come in the room and announced that us yogis didn't know anything about breathing. I thought, if that's true then I have some learning to do. And so I learned about Buteyko breathing. I learned how to do it myself, then I learned how to teach it to others. And then I came back to yoga and looked at yoga through my new lens to see if what yoga was saying about breath was in alignment with, or in opposition to, what I just learned. (That's a really short summary of all the courses I took, and the reading and research that I did over the following 2 years.)
While I was doing all of that, Jenn was busy delving into trauma. It's a fascinating journey, but not mine, so maybe you can ask her about it.
Over the years we've met up for tea occasionally, kept in touch about the work the other was doing. After teaching a weekend at Yoga Detour last summer together (Jenn taught Saturday and I taught Sunday) we saw what had happened. We had gone off and learned about the same things from two different perspectives. Although we had learned about two separate subjects there were huge areas of overlap and integration of the material. (It was a pretty great weekend.)
We knew we could do more. We can talk about trauma, and about breath, but these are things that we experience in our bodies, and not in separate ways. You don't feel your trauma separately from the breath, or the breath independently from your emotional state. They influence each other.
Breath and trauma are intrinsically connected, and it only made sense that we try to present this material in a way that was more connected as well. The Integrated Science of Breath and Trauma was born. What is that? Well, it's a weekend workshop where we teach these two things a little bit separately (we can't talk about all of it at once) and then experience how they interact. In this two day integrated workshop you will:
We're really excited about this (and I know you are, too!). The early bird pricing ends on April 22, so if you are curious about trauma or breath, if you work in a therapeutic way with bodies or minds, I encourage you to join us.
Register at Yoga Detour, and join us for this unique, life- and work-changing workshop.
EDIT: This workshop has been cancelled, but will be recreated in an on-line format. Stay tuned for updates!
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