These days, breathwork is pretty standard practice. If you are looking for solutions for dealing with fear and anxiety, I would put large swathes of money on the fact that have been instructed to or attempted to consciously manage your breath in some way, at some point in time. Even beyond specific challenges, if we think about what it means to be calm and relaxed in the saddle, we consider the active management of the breath to be a part of that process.
I will throw my hat in the ring and say I have been at that same party in the past also. I have studied a large number of breath practices available out there to the level where I have more than a superficial understanding of what they are trying to achieve.
But still, something niggled at me. For one, not everyone reports greater feelings of well-being from breathwork. In fact, many people fed back to me that it had the opposite effect of what they intended… that it made them MORE of what they were looking to avoid. More anxious, more concerned, more “tight”.
The other thing? Perception is different from reality. We can “feel” a particular way (which is subjective) and that’s different from the reality of where our nervous system is sitting. For instance, feelings of calm and quiet don’t necessarily represent a healthy nervous system. We can “feel” that way when our nervous system is actually in collapse.
Again, perception is different from reality.
Since I have really gone down the rabbit hole of nervous system understanding, I now understand why. And for the last while, I’ve dropped any attempts both personally and professionally to actively manage the breath.
This video is a snippet from Stable Hours, a weekly Q&A session that we have in my membership program JoyRide. It gives us a small taste of the theory behind what I’m talking about here and why it is you may have struggled with breath practices, if that is the case for you.