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What I learned: breathwork teacher training with Breathless Expeditions

They say everything happens for a reason. At the time, I wondered why I was standing in an icy stream in Australia’s Snowy Mountains hugging 25 perfect strangers as tears rolled down my cheeks.  Yet, deep down I knew my path has followed my natural curiosity. The reason I did breathwork teacher training was because breathing and surfing have always been intertwined for me and I was ready to take my knowledge to the next level.

In November, I spent a weekend in the mountains learning to become a breathing instructor.  I’ve taught breathing and meditation at my retreats, but wanted to take my knowledge to the next level.  In a few days, what I saw and heard completely changed my perspective on living and breathing.  This information wouldn’t only help surfers, breath-work could improve anyone’s life. Everywhere I went I noticed overbreathers, sighers, and throat clearers. When I asked, people sheepishly revealed they lived with a lifetime of blocked noses, snoring, and dehydration.

The prevalence of breathing disorders everywhere I looked made me reconsider how I would teach breathwork at my retreats and workshops.  I knew Waterwomen need to be able to use their breath as an ally in stressful situations in the water.  They must train to hold their breath and be able to control their breathing after moments of chaos. Waterwomen also need to optimize their regular breathing on dry land. My breathwork teacher training taught me that this optimization can improve your physical and mental health.

Thus, while our next retreat will still teach you how to overcome fear in the water using breathwork and other techniques, you will also radically improve your everyday breathing in a way that could change your life.

Feeling amazing after 10 minutes in ice water during my breathwork teacher trainingChange Your Breath, Change Your Life

Most surfers begin with breathing exercises aimed at increasing our breath hold for that inevitable six-wave beat down. Pool training, apnea walking, and C02 tables are great ways to prepare for bigger waves and give you confidence in all kinds of conditions.  Not surprisingly, we skip the foundations and go straight to what we fear most. Yet, most of us have work to do on our everyday breathing that will make surviving wipeouts, hold downs, and the most stressful moments of life much easier.

That’s because so many of us are mouth breathers. Many people will deny up and down that they breathe through their mouth but will report dry mouth, bad breath, dehydration, chronically blocked noses, snoring, low energy, depression, anxiety and poor sleep.  These are all symptoms of mouth breathing. Mouth breathing, especially at night, often goes unnoticed.

Excessive breathing – heavy breathing and/or mouth breathing – wrecks havoc on our systems. It can traumatize airways causing inflammation of the nose, sinus, throat, and lungs which produces mucus. Heavy breathing also keeps us in a sympathetic state which increases anxiety and decreases our tolerance of stress.

As surfers, we want to be able to access our parasympathetic system on demand. That’s why the first step to better breathing is restoring the natural flow of breath and retraining to breathe only through the nose all day, all night.

Why is nose breathing so important? Nose breathing:

  • Warms, moistens, and filters the air for it to be best delivered to the lungs.
  • Filters large particles
  • Prevents illness, hay fever, and allergies
  • Increases circulating blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels
  • Slows the breathing rate
  • Improves overall lung volume.
  • Increases the release of nitric oxide, which has both antiviral and antibacterial properties that can keep us healthy throughout the year
  • Strengthens the diaphragm
  • Promotes activity of the parasympathetic nervous system

What does that mean for you?

  • The ability to breathe through the nose returns
  • Mucus and congestion start to clear out permanently
  • Quality of sleep and restfulness increases
  • Energy levels and motivation improve
  • Enhanced recovery from physical exertion
  • Overall quality of life improvements
  • Symptoms of anxiety and depression reduce
  • Concentration and cognition improve
  • Fewer allergies, colds, and improved immunity.

Nose breathing clearly has incredible benefits but so many of us have fallen into the bad habit of mouth breathing.  Fortunately, mouth breathing is correctable with deliberate practice.  Better yet, once you’ve restored the natural flow of breath, you don’t have to keep practicing. Unlike the gym, the benefits of retraining yourself to breathe slowly through your nose are long lasting.

Breath Holds: The Surfer’s Secret Weapon

If you’ve ever had a scary situation in the ocean, you know the importance of breathing for performance for surfers is unquestionable. Understanding your stress response in the water and having a plan in these difficult times is essential. During wipeouts, we naturally go into fight-or-flight mode, our heart rate raising and releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol – both necessary to function as fast as possible and get to safety. All that tension also breaks down muscles in the body and causes us to panic. The only way to reverse this is by manipulating our own bodies with conscious relaxation techniques that activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

We also need to increase our breath hold and simulate circumstances where we hold our breath in the ocean. This can be done by increasing your tolerance to carbon dioxide so you can control and withstand the urge to breathe caused by rising carbon dioxide levels. Contrary to popular belief, carbon dioxide is much more than a waste product of respiration. Carbon dioxide actually helps release oxygen to the cells and tissues. It also causes the arteries to dilate, relaxes your muscles, regulates inflammation, and stabilizes your neurons.

Not only does breath-holding expose you to higher levels of carbon dioxide, it helps improve your lung capacity. If you’ve ever consciously held your breath, you’ll know the urge to breathe by flutters of the diaphragm. By gradually learning to tolerate and push past those flutters over time you are increasing how long you can hold your breath and how much air you can hold in your lungs by strengthening your diaphragm.

But best of all for those of us dealing with fear is the connection between breath-holding and learning to maintain composure under pressure. The parts of the brain that control fear, panic, and anxiety are hardwired right next to the respiratory centers responsible for breath regulation.

These chemoreceptors are the same ones that detect the levels of oxygen in an organism’s bloodstream and stimulate breath holding as a primitive reflexive action. Thus, voluntary breath-holding can teach us to stay calm and perform under pressure.

Breath training for surfing has profoundly affected my confidence in a variety of conditions.  It’s like a secret weapon that works in two ways. First, I actually can hold my breath longer underwater and return to homeostasis quicker after exertion. Second, breath training has given me an innate sense of confidence and calm even when the surf gets big.  I am excited and determined when faced with bigger conditions rather than ready to run the other way.  More often than not, I get held under and come up smiling. I understand the physiological processes and chemicals behind these feelings, but it still feels like magic. 

Breathwork Teacher training with breathless expeditions 

Today, my breathwork teacher training experience with Breathless Expeditions feels like a distance dream that truly transformed the way I trained for surfing. From the moment I arrived at the Crackenback Resort, I knew that I was given an opportunity for change.  I was super nervous. The participants and coaches welcomed us with open arms, creating a safe and supportive environment for our journey.  

The breathwork teacher training curriculum was comprehensive and well-structured, covering a wide range of topics including the history and science of breathwork, different techniques and styles, and how to create and hold space for participants. We learned from experienced facilitators who shared their wisdom and insights, making the learning experience engaging and inspiring.  The live music during our breathwork experiences was incredible.

One of the highlights of the breathwork teacher training was the opportunity to practice teaching. We were encouraged to step out of our comfort zones and design and lead breathwork sessions for our peers. This hands-on experience was invaluable, allowing us to refine our skills and receive feedback from both our peers and the facilitators.

Throughout the breathwork teacher training, we were encouraged to explore our own breathwork practice. We participated in daily holotropic breathwork, which Johannes calls “breakthrough breathwork,” that deepened our understanding of the practice and allowed us to experience its transformative power firsthand. These sessions helped me to release pent-up emotions, gain clarity, and connect more deeply with myself.  

The breathwork teacher training also included workshops and discussions on topics such as trauma-informed breathwork, ethics and boundaries, and how to work with diverse populations. These sessions were eye-opening and gave me the tools and knowledge to be a more effective and compassionate facilitator.

One of the most profound experiences of the breathwork teacher training was the group dynamics. I was surrounded by a diverse group of individuals, each with their own stories and backgrounds. Despite our differences, we came together as a supportive and cohesive group, creating a space where we could learn, and grow together. We swam in freezing cold rivers, packed 20 people in a sauna, and shared our deep experience.  

The breathwork teacher training culminated in a final project where we had to design and facilitate a breathwork session for the group. This project was challenging but incredibly rewarding. It allowed me to put into practice everything I had learned and to see firsthand the impact that breathwork can have on others.

Overall, my breathwork teacher training experience with Breathless Expeditions was life-changing. It deepened my understanding of breathwork and gave me the skills and confidence to share this powerful practice with others. I am grateful for the experience and look forward to continuing my journey as a breathwork facilitator.

Breathless Expeditions offers an accredited breathwork facilitator training certification program that is designed to provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to facilitate breathwork sessions professionally. The program is led by experienced facilitators who are dedicated to providing a supportive and transformative learning experience.

Upon completion of the breathwork teacher training program, participants will receive a certification as a breathwork facilitator and we had several seminars afterward to lock in what we learned. This certification is accredited by the International Breathwork Foundation, ensuring that graduates meet the highest standards of professional practice.

Overall, Breathless Expeditions’ breathwork facilitator training certification program is a comprehensive and transformative experience that provides participants with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to facilitate breathwork sessions professionally. Whether you are looking to deepen your own practice or start a career as a breathwork facilitator, this program is a great choice.


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