If you know me, you’d know I talk 100 miles an hour without much of a break, I am always going flat out at most things, I struggle to sit still and I used to have very dysfunctional breathing patterns and absolutely hated meditation.
10 years ago I met Nic from day 1 I noticed an energy about her I have never seen in any other human before, something about her calm and grounded energy always intrigued me and part of me wanted some of it in my own life. Nic and I were friends many years before I totally came around to her philosophy behind the breath and meditation, it actually took a complete breakdown of my central nervous system (CNS) from injury and life stress to really soak in all Nic was telling me. I resisted for a long time before realising my body and mind needed exactly what she was trying to teach me. It was’t about switching off my brain it was about being aware of my breath.
Nic is my secret weapon I am now sharing with you all, if she can teach this energiser bunny who was almost suffocating to be a chilled bunny who can finally breath I am sure she can help you too. We had the best chat and I hope you enjoy it too.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers and let them know what you do?
I’m Nic Dorsch (aka Nic Whiteman) ~ Inspya Me, I’ve been practicing Yoga for 30 years, I have been teaching Yoga + Meditation + Breathwork for 19years, for 7 years I’ve been training students to learn all that I do and become qualified Yogalates Teachers.
How long have you worked as a breath work, meditation, yoga & pilates teacher? What led you to working in the industry and what is your favourite thing about what you do?
At 30yrs I studied Yoga for 12months full time, after I’d realised the past 11 years of practicing had influenced my everything – mentally, physically and emotionally (and I had a lot of ‘everything’ going on!) I wanted to dive in and learn the bones of it plus I felt inspired to share it with others. Initially I taught group classes, recently I’ve become even more passionate about working one-to-one and small groups on Retreats where I have time to spend with individuals. I love seeing the ‘Yoga-stoned’ look on my student’s faces when they truly ‘feel’ the shift they just made with breath work ~ just because of one unique adjustment to their breathing pattern, or having presence in 5 mins of breath awareness. (Tam’s used to be my fave post-Yoga face, she’s used to it now so it doesn’t make me laugh as much 😉
Can you let us know why the breath is so important? And how it is a key element to meditation practice.
The way we breath, the movement of our diaphragm, directly impacts our nervous system, adrenals, heart rate, organ function and state of mind. If we try meditation with a shallow, anxious or inefficient breath without adjusting the diaphragm’s rhythm we may not ever achieve any of the benefits said of meditation. Meditation is often mistaken as challenging, in my experience the most beneficial and effective version is the simplest one, developing basic breath awareness.
What are some symptoms that occur in the body when we develop dysfunctional breathing patterns and how can this affect our day to day lives?
Dysfunctional breathing patterns are directly linked to digestive function (including IBS), the tone of our core muscles (including pelvic floor), high or low blood pressure, adrenal fatigue, reduced blood supply to the brain, inability to think clearly and make decisions, agitated nervous system, our mood – all of which elevate stress levels. Basically, think of a physical or mental condition and breathing can play an important role as both the cause and solution.
What do you find is the biggest barrier for people starting out and sticking with regular breath work and meditation?
Whilst a beginner can experience an instantaneous sense of peace and find relief in the body, initially it’s short-lived, yet if practiced long term it becomes profound and sustainable. Not seeing ‘fast results’ is the reason most of us ditch anything quickly and move onto the next fad. However a regular disciplined basic breathing practice of approx 10mins per day for a few months, can make lasting changes. The biggest barrier though, is many of us are lacking the self-love and commitment of time in holding ourselves in this kind of space. We are stuck on ‘fast results’, overstimulated and driven by external influences. This kind of inner work and self-love leads to our truest and healthiest version. And that is not easy to step into, staying instead with the familiar is often easier than taking a leap into the unknown of what could I achieve if I do this inner work and make changes, healing has many layers and our belief system is at the top. (I know, that’s heavy going, but this is what I see all the time and it can’t go unsaid otherwise we bash our head against walls on why we can’t do this, instead of facing into where the true resistance lies ~ in fact most people only turn to a committed practice when it’s their last resort and desperation for change is the driver).
In your experience what benefits will people get from consistent breath work and meditation practice?
The list is endless, from what I have seen many times in my students first and foremost is an ability to manage thoughts, stress levels and sleep well. For me it’s provided me with a steadiness of mind, ease in identifying emotions ~ it’s as though it gives me space between each thought so I discern and choose them well. My body feels supple and nimble, never rigid or restricted. I have a strong core. I am 49 years old and don’t take any medication or supplements. It’s because I breathe well and I simply love my life because of it!
What would be your advice for someone who struggles to switch off, or has felt in the past breath work and meditation can make them feel frustrated?
Don’t try to ‘switch off’, the idea is to become the observer and master of choosing your thoughts. Instead, smirk at yourself when the crazy busy mind chatter comes up (yup you are not the only one that thinks that shit, we have over 30,000 thoughts per day and they are not all positively rose-coloured!). Then focus on feeling your breath against your nostril flares ….then do that again 2 seconds later when the mind chatter comes up again. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Some days it will be 4 seconds, some days it will be a magical blissful 10 seconds, but the next it will be 1 second…smirk at yourself again. ;-). Make it simple, do it with loving kindness and patience with yourself.
Can you give a newbie to breath work and meditation a few tips to getting started?
Lay down if seated makes you agitated, or sit in a chair. Feel the breath against your nostril flares for a moment, then start to drag the breath smoothly past the nostrils count to 3 as you inhale, then 3 as you exhale. Repeatedly, with a smirk, bring your mind back to the counting each time you feel it lose focus. Set your alarm (a soft sound) at 2 mins, then gradually longer. Try making the exhale the count of 6 if wanting to calm your nerves or fall asleep.
Might be interested in reading my blog “How we breathe really matters”
Nic offers a range of online and some face to face services for breath work and meditation, I use her monthly online subscription check it out.
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