What you need to know before your first breathwork session
What do you need to know before attending your first somatic breathwork session?
There are a few things to be aware of before entering the space of breathwork. Firstly, and this goes with working with any practitioner. Find a facilitator you resonate with, ideally, someone you feel safe with. It’s been proven that a large percentage of what influences the effectiveness of any therapy is the client's ability to feel safe with the facilitator. You may do this by searching on Google and checking out the facilitator's content on their website/social media to see if it resonates, or by asking around your friend circles for a referral.
People will most commonly be introduced to the space through group sessions, as they are the most promoted and financially accessible compared to a private 1:1. These group sessions are great, but it is worth knowing that if this is your first experience of breathwork, you may find it difficult to journey deeply into your own world while there is so much going on around you. Often people can have loud emotional releases during a session, which can be unnerving to someone unfamiliar with the experience and can take you out of your own journey. It's not an issue, and don't feel like there is something wrong with you if you don't feel you journeyed as deeply as those around you, just keep returning to your breath.
It's important to note that unlike the yoga world, which has the Yoga Alliance, a respected body that requires a certain standard in order to become a facilitator. Breathwork is a far more recent development and has no governing body. This means that literally anyone can become a “facilitator” in as little as a weekend. The space an individual enters during the breathwork journey is incredibly vulnerable, so it's imperative you work with well-trained facilitators. My training was with Owaken Breathwork, a 9-month intensive, trauma-informed training. As Matt Kahn once said, “Despite how open, peaceful and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you, as deeply as they’ve met themselves”. The same goes for facilitators. It's important to find one who has been deep into the shadows themselves so they can meet you in the depths of your own experiences.
On the lead-up to a session, it's important to avoid drugs and alcohol for at least 24 hours. This allows you to enter the session from a clearer state of mind and be fully in your body. It's also advised to give yourself at least 24 hours after. Giving your body time to integrate and adjust, and fully be with all you just experienced.
On the day, I recommend having a light meal before the session. You can fast, but I personally find that the sessions require a lot of my energy and I can sometimes be taken out of the experience as I start thinking about my stomach and food. It's also a great practice, in general, but especially after the session, to drink lots of water. This allows your body to flush and rejuvenate post-session, plus the actual breathing practice can leave you somewhat dehydrated too as it requires extended mouth breathing.
Depending on the circumstances and what is provided you may be asked to bring:
- A yoga mat
- A pillow
- A blanket (even when it's warm, your body temp may drop during the session).
- A pad and pen
- A water bottle
- An eye mask (can be nice to block out light and allow you to go deeper)
- Lip balm
I’d also suggest dressing comfy as you will be laying in one spot for over an hour.
Afterwards, spend time in nature, ground in, journal, spend time alone, rest, and do anything that allows you to connect more deeply with yourself in this precious space. And most of all, if you have any insights into the next steps you need to take, TAKE ACTION, nothing changes unless you change the way you show up in the world.
In summary, be discerning with whom you allow to take you into this delicate space, be gentle with yourself before and after, trust in the process, know that, no matter what, you will get exactly what you need, and don't forget, you are your own healer.
If you are interested in working with me in either a 1:1 or group capacity please reach out, I’d love to hear from you and support you in this beautiful unfolding process.