Breathwork is one of my favorite tools to help clients (and myself) build resilience and recover from the effects of trauma.
Breathwork is a term used to describe any type of therapy that utilizes breathing exercises to improve mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Breathwork is a way to combine the ancient practices of yoga with modern neuroscience. It can be beneficial for people experiencing anxiety, chronic pain, depression, trauma, and anger issues, to name a few.
I believe it is important to ease people into breathing practices in phases in order to minimize triggers and increase a sense of empowerment with a new practice.
Square Breathing is a common breathing technique that can be used to help calm the nervous system and build resilience. It is used by everyone from athletes to US Navy Seals, police officers, and nurses.
Traditionally in this practice, you inhale for the count of 4, pause for 4, exhale for 4, and pause for 4.
I believe there are important factors to introducing a breathwork practice that can make it more trauma informed.
Tip #1: “Pause” vs. “Hold”
Words matter. Referring to the practice as a “pause” rather than a “hold” can have a more neutral connotation for trauma survivors.
Tip #2: Reduce the length
A Modified Square Breathing practice can include inhaling for the count of 3, pausing for 2, exhaling for 3, pausing for 2.
This modification can help to ease individuals into the practice of breath retention, which can initially feel uncomfortable, especially for beginners. For a free video of a Modified Square Breathing practice, click here.
Tip #3: Always by invitation
Inviting someone to try a breathwork practice is key for empowering an individual to make choices about what happens with their body. Reminding a client that they are in control of their own body and that they can modify or stop the practice at any time can feel empowering to a trauma survivor trying to reintegrate back into their body.
For more trauma informed tips, you can join my upcoming Ethics of Trauma Informed Care training happening on April 29th from 9-11 EST.
This will be a live virtual training and participants will receive lifetime access to the recording so you do not have to attend live to receive CEs. 2 Ethics CEs approved by NASW-NC will be included in the course.
Click here for more information and to reserve your spot today.