After starting a yoga practice as part of her addiction recovery, Ashley Neese discovered it wasn’t the restorative poses or the limb-lengthening movements that most nourished her. It was the breathing. “For the first time since I could remember, I felt safe in my body,” she explains.
Breathwork is about empowerment. It’s about turning inward, slowing down, and listening to the deeper call of your own heart.Ashley Neese
The act of breathing seems simple enough (we do it upwards of 17,000 times a day), but there is a vast difference between the automatic and mindful breath. The latter—the foundation of breathwork—“is the most powerful tool for self-regulation,” says Neese, who is regarded as the high priestess of the practice. Research shows that by bringing awareness to our breath, we can directly impact our nervous system, influencing both our bodies and our minds.
Although different types of breathwork can solicit different reactions (focus, energy, etc.), one that seems fitting for just about anyone is stress relief. So Neese, who shares a full spectrum of practices in her book (aptly titled How to Breathe), generously demonstrates here a 5-minute ritual you can do anywhere to bring instant calm—with some help from the Stress Relief essential oil blend.