Exhale… Relax… Release…

I was in a yoga class not too long ago when the reality of how much our bodies relax on the exhale finally got through to me. The understanding came on many levels. Physically we can go deeper into yoga postures and get more benefit if we relax as we exhale.


What struck me like a bolt of lightening was how many levels this is true. An exhalation is a release. The natural thing for a body to do when exhaling is to relax, at least that is what I am told. I cannot say that has been true for my body all along.

As a child I developed asthma. I have made a lot of life decisions that have enabled me to treat it almost 100% holistically. One of the most effective methods for treating it is to exhale DEEPLY. To force all the air out of my lungs, over and over again. It is a scary proposition for someone with asthma to do this because our fear is that we will never get that next lung full of air. For me exhaling is scary. Is it scary because I have asthma, or do I have asthma because it is scary? Most likely the answer is, both. The mind body connection continues to amaze me.

I am not proud to say that the older I got, the more things that left my life had claw marks on them. I failed to see that they had lost their relevance and usefulness long before I grudgingly let them out of my tight little grip.

The biggest example of that is my marriage. My ex-husband had been a recovering addict, after we had been married for 5 years, he relapsed. Originally I had said that a relapse was cause for divorce that I would not stay in a marriage with addiction. When he relapsed, all I wanted was my old life back and for the next four years I put up the best effort I had to get him sober and get my life back. When I finally said “Uncle. This is bigger and stronger than I am, and my old life is so far in the past I barely remember it any more.” I was a shadow of the person I had been and required a lot of Shamanic Breathwork, Yoga, and Life Coaching to get me to see that my desire to have reality be something other than what it was, had been so strong I had made all sorts of decisions that were plain destructive to both of us. That my friends, is denial.

Sometimes we can get so attached to what was, that we fail to see that we are hanging on to a thing, an idea, a relationship, or an identity that hasn’t fit for a long time. After the marriage was over I invested so much memory and meaning into the things we’d had that, even though I moved states three times in three years, I drug all of that furniture, boxes, and knick-knacks over all those miles and could not let go.

January 3rd, of this year, my dear, dear dog and best friend of 9 years was diagnosed with Lymphoma. My vet said, “If I had to give it a number I would say three months.” He passed away on March 8th only two months later. I feared that with my past behavior, I would find some new way to really make a mess of things with Riley’s illness. It took some time, but one day, I knew was going to miss him, and I was going to be OK. I also knew that all that stuff I had been hauling around thinking it mattered so much, no longer mattered at all. I have been purging, cleaning and releasing my belongings in cycles ever since. The more I release, the more I relax. The more I relax, the more I realize I still have to release. Which starts another cycle of purging. I have found that when I get down to the belongings that I truly like, I no longer have to sift through all the things I never really use to find them, and I feel so much more abundant.


It was during this purging phase that my body relaxed on that exhale in that yoga class, and I got it! This is natural. Release is as natural as breathing, and it’s relaxing. So I have learned that if I fight the release, and hope to outsmart the sun the moon and the stars, when it is time. I will suffer.

I found this quote from Lao Tzu, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” I received this quote the day I sat down to write this, receiving the inspiration I needed. If the old saying that you teach what you most need to learn is true, then it is no wonder that I my soul purpose is expressed as a Breathwork Facilitator.




There are almost as many ways to escape the high level of stress and agitation that bombard us in our day to day lives as there are people looking to escape the pressures: cigarettes, alcohol, pills, food, gaming, facebook, sex, shopping, gambling add any combination of the above and the list expands exponentially.

Escaping Reality

We do these things because they work, and they work fast, they help us escape, turn off, and build our own personal container in order to continue to push forward and accomplish all the things we have to do in our fast paced society. There comes a time in many of our lives when it becomes too painful to continue using these escapes, the consequences are beginning to severely outweigh the benefits. The truth is these things are killers, and we are losing our families, our careers, our health, and even our freedom to these fixes. When the day comes that we realized we are putting more and more effort into our fixes and getting less and less reward for a shorter period of time. When the scale has tipped to such a point of obvious injustice, it is usually at this time that we become willing to look for a different solution and find a way out of the crisis that has become our lives.

I have been having conversations with others that evoke change in thinking and behavior for decades. I have worked with business executives, and spiritual leaders, many creative personalities and a wide variety of colorful people that have deeply touched my life as we worked together to overcome adversity, meet challenges, push past obstacles, to establish resiliency and begin to thrive again.

If life were always good and easy, we would numb to the enjoyment and cease feeling the joy. This does not mean that life need to be a veil of tears. We do need to be able to experience a range of emotions without over identifying  and getting lost in the emotion. Alcoholics tend to be highly intelligent and sensitive people. I believe there is a different scale of intensity of feeling for everybody, and alcoholics are on the high side of the scale.

If our feelings are intense, the painful ones can be excruciating.

(Stay with me here, I know it is a departure, but…) Learning to see emotions as guides to our beliefs, and following those guides to see which belief of ours is out of synch with our current experience can be a wonderful tool to releasing our attachment to the suffering. At the same time we can honor our deep capacity for feeling, we can walk the fine line of allowing our emotions to move in and through us, to act as guides and, by learning to decipher their messages in a way not taught in our society, we can go from apparently disadvantaged by our sensitivity to highly functioning individuals. Once this change has taken place, escaping becomes not only undesirable, but a hindrance to our new effective and present lives.


My personal commitment to Shamanic Breathwork and the discovery of my own inner healer/shaman has been a crucial part of my journey. I have gone from being taken over by my emotions, to being able to walk through significant life experiences while remaining present for the experience, and for my loved ones. This is emotional sobriety, it is the key to a quality of life far better than I had ever achieved, or imagined possible. It doesn’t exist because I have narrowed my life down to the few people and places that don’t set me off. It exists in spite of conditions that I wish were different. I can say “yes” to life, to adventure, and experiences. If you are reading this, and you have read this far, my deepest hope is that you will contact us at Sacred Spirals or one of the other Shamanic Breathwork Facilitators and commit to yourself. You are your most precious asset, the life you create deserves your best!