“It’s the simplest thing that can bring about the biggest shifts,” says Nicola Price, founder of Inspirational Breathing. “There’s nothing I’ve come across that reaches the level of exactness and release.”
A session with Nicola starts with her analysing how you breathe – almost everyone has dysfunctional breath, she says. Many of us shallow breathe into the chest, use the shoulder muscles to lift the ribs and hold tension in the stomach. Nicola teaches belly breathing, taking air through the mouth into the tummy, using all of the lungs and allowing the exhale to happen naturally as the diaphragm releases back.
At first it feels a little strange, but then as the rhythm takes over my breath becomes expansive and I sink into an almost hypnotic state. What happens over the next hour is hard to explain.
Nicola creates a space that feels cocoon like – a place where you can allow things to happen and just let go. As I focus on breathing she works on areas of my body, releasing tightness around the neck (a site that holds resentment and frustration) and repeating mantras that come to her (I accept my perfection).
I lie on my front as she releases stiffness along the spine and move through the ‘cat-cow’ yoga asana, freeing the throat as I stick out my tongue – focusing on the breath the whole time. I feel sensations of tingling, like energy moving up from my lower back and dissipating; there are tears, there is retching (a deep release of old stuff, she says).
And afterwards, in the ‘receiving’ part of the session, my head feels full of bright light and I’ve a sense of being totally held, lying back in a giant pair of hands.
Breathwork works on many levels, releasing tension and blocked energy, and also old trauma stored in the body, Nicola tells me.
“It can help people let go of the emotional charge attached to old trauma, the charge that runs their beliefs and behaviours, and this can lead to genuine change,” she says. And she should know. Having survived abuse as a child and adult, and breast cancer twice, breathwork is what eventually helped her heal. Since attending her first ‘conscious connected breath’ workshop, she’s dedicated her life to training and learning as much as she can about her subject. In short, she’s the real deal and now spends her time in Goa and the UK running workshops and training other practitioners.
After just one session I notice I’m feeling lighter, open and more willing to surrender my need to control. I notice my breath more and start to practice belly breathing at different moments during the day. It’s hard to fathom that something so simple is so powerful. But, as Nicola says, ‘When it comes to healing our breath is our greatest tool’.Jane Dunford
I was really taken over by the way you housed us, from the first tea in the morning to the last chocolate in the afternoon. Everything in the place and in the people was welcoming, creating a place where I could feel protected, safe to explore and let go. When I say people I mean you and Mel, but also my companions of course. I liked the way you brought us gently, but also resolutely and practically, to better understand and live the experience, your energy (and smile) was flowing and powering. Mel was a sweet and discreet presence, much effective when needed, without asking, she just knew when and where to come. I loved the work, the way it was structured during the week, exploring and integrating every day new tools and experiences, balancing serious work and fun. I loved how it built up during the week, in terms of the techniques and deep inside. You (and we together) managed to create a sacred space where time was suspended and we could just BE.Elisabetta Scantamburlo
The small group size, allowing for individual attention from Nicola as well as deep connection with every single other participant.
The soul and body nourishing food, and lovely teas and infusions.
The walks in nature, helping to feel the connection and wider meaning of the breathing practice.
The spontaneity and flexibility of the programme, for example taking the opportunity to be outside when the weather was nice, and the ‘impromptu’ barbecue. The go with the flow approach.
Nicola’s openness and authenticity.
We had fun even in the most “difficult” times, Nicola is amazing at making the group feel supported and the space held. I felt very safe throughout.
I have known Nicola as a friend for a few years now, and this year she managed to get me to stay still for 15 minutes so she could show me what she does. Lying on the floor of her yurt at the very end of my annual festival Exhale, I was exhausted and completely in tatters. 15 minutes later I was a believer! I booked on to the men’s Foundation course there and then. I think I was expecting to be better able to manage my nervous system, perhaps some kind of ‘advanced pranayama’ all wrapped up in her nurturing care. I was right about the nurturing care, but what I did not expect was such incredible, tangible, long-held emotions shifting. It was truly tectonic! I have been a yoga teacher for 12 years, practiced energy work for longer, studied many different healing modalities and worked through several rounds of talking therapy but to my surprise and delight I have found something that really works.
I have booked onto the Graduate program in May and I’m very keen to share this with my Stretch community in Hackney. I couldn’t recommend this more to anyone. Thank you Nicola!
I don’t know where to begin to thank you! I have had the most amazing experience of my life (other than giving birth)! I feel free and open to loving myself, everyone and everything around me. How amazing is that? It is all so simple, just go back to the first breath from our birth. I owe the opening up of this knowledge and truth to you… and to me, of course (as you would make me say!). I am inspired above and beyond that which I have ever felt. I am filled with love, I can feel it in my heart, I have fallen in love with me, with everything. Like in the eyes of a baby, love shining out to everyone and everything around them and receiving love so easily.
So I’ll come down to earth for awhile and sum up the different parts of the course!
YOU: Has to come first! Because without your energy, enthusiasm, care, kindness, knowledge, guidance, inspiration and courage I wouldn’t be on this new journey of discovery. You guided all 4 of us through our individual journeys carefully and with exactly the right touch, word, look, tea, food, blanket, tissue, timing and love so that we were safe, supported and able to fly. You shared exactly the right things at the right time. You knew when it was time to change what we were doing. You knew when it was time to start or stop. Your enthusiasm for breath work and what it can do to change lives, free people and open up consciousness is boundless and beautiful. You are the best advert there could ever be for opening up to the light, overcoming great difficulties and being totally open to sharing your love and changing the energy of the planet. You are doing it!!! Since being with you I have already touched people with my breath work story and they have all immediately started making changes to their lives so that they look after themselves better. It works on an energetic level so quickly and easily like you said. You really are wonderful and an inspiration. More people need to hear your great knowledge and I can see that your book will do that. Changing the world is really what you are doing.
THE COURSE ITSELF: The course was run at exactly the right level for me. I liked the structure to each day, starting with tea and dancing, breath work was incredible of course, time with my buddy so useful, time to reflect and write again so useful, delicious lunch that was so much fun to help prepare, walking together was lovely as was being by the sea, sleeping after lunch on our left side, more breath work, more reflection and finally saying goodbye. The movement part was great for me, dancing, moving my body upright and on the floor in different ways, getting the energy really moving. The touch was really good for me to reconnect with myself, I was surprised at how I found pain in different parts of my body and learning about to release it is such a precious gift. Sound, so key to everything was also so effective and such a useful tool to freeing my body. Learning to create and use more affirmations to be kind to myself and to get rid of the voices that are cruel is just priceless (Miss Price) and is something that I can do so easily and also share easily to help others. Triggers… wow, the signs to notice and learn about ourselves… a lot of work ahead for me around them but how useful to get to know them and use them to get rid of negative reactions and emotions through breath work. So you see I learnt some much in such a short time – although it did feel like we had a lot of time. I think the course slowed time down and let the air in.
THE UNIVERSE: So I have write about this. How I opened up to the Universe, to the fact that there is GOD/UNIVERSE…in me. That at any point if I step up to it and do the work that it is always there for me and will always guide me. What a blessing to learn that. Every one of my experiences was deeply spiritual and life affirming. The energy of the Universe was with us for those 5 days and was strong and beautiful.
THE GROUP: What a lovely group of 5 the Universe created! We were so connected and safe with each other. Such honesty and integrity between us all. Such love and support in abundance. The buddy idea was genius as we got to know each other on a different level each time. The walking together and going to the beach together was also a lovely way to share experiences. Sharing time was so precious and special. What an amazing time. With your tea and cake to comfort us after our changes. Writing about each other was such a beautiful experience. I have my feedback beside me now and have looked at it each morning. To have such lovely things said about me from people I’ve only spent 5 days with is so affirming and what I wrote about them was deeply heartfelt. Interesting the mix of male and female and that energy. Anwar was a lovely part of the group and I think he challenged mine and Kate’s issues around men and sharing with men and that was a good thing. When he wasn’t there the female energy was so strong and powerful and again showed us all that our energy and power when united is so important for changing this world.
THE FUNKY BUNGALOW: This was just gorgeous!!!I loved making the food with you, learning from you about healthy foods that go well together, that a mistake can turn into a success, that blessing food with your love makes it taste better and gives it more energy, that being organised or disorganised is ok… it all turns out wonderfully in the end!! A big learning I’ve taken away with me is to look after myself and I’m doing it every day.
SETTING INTENTIONS: Such a great idea. I have stuck to mine, even if the timing has changed a little, the intention has stuck and I’m sleeping better, getting up earlier to do my dancing and breath work and I’m still eating really healthily with no wheat and sugar and very little dairy. Trying to keep up with the tea and water like at yours. I’ve not drunk alcohol even though I’ve been with friends who are. It’s just all so good! I don’t want to change how I feel by doing anything bad to myself.
So I’ll end this email with a quote from Maya Angelou that sums up the breath work really well I think…. “I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”
Thank you, I am eternally grateful “Shine like diamonds in the sun, every one of usLisa Pollitt
Nicola’s absolute dedication to the breath-work, and mission in sharing it as widely as possible, is infectious and overwhelmingly refreshing. Too often I’ve found myself on a course where the teacher or facilitator lacked the enthusiasm or expertise I had anticipated. To learn from the source of a subject is both rare and inimitable. During the Graduate Program Nicola had us facilitating breath sessions for one another from day one. Whilst challenging, this allowed the course content to be experienced on a far deeper felt sense, gave us ample opportunity to share and work through the various fears we faced as they arose, and resulted in a far more confident attitude to being able to take forward the learning with our case studies at the end of the course.
With the course being limited to four students at a time this allowed for deep learning, unrestricted sharing and close bonds being formed with one another. I felt like we formed a little family for our time together, in full support of one another as we encountered the highs and lows that such self discovery inevitably brings with it.
Nicola’s passion for food and nature is evident throughout, resulting in nourishment on every level. The views from our lunch time bbq on the South Downs and the taste of Goan figs coated in bergamot raw chocolate will remain with me for a long long time! When doing this deep inner work to know that you are nurtured and held in such a beautiful way really makes all the difference.
It’s been reassuring to know that the support and sense of community remains strong once the course is over, with Nicola being easily reached for feedback, further learning resources being readily available via inspirationalbreathing.com, a graduate Facebook group and Nicola offering up plentiful opportunities to shadow her, be that assisting on future workshops or courses, or pitching up a tent together at festivals as Inspirational Breathing tours the UK.
For anyone feeling the call to sign up for the Graduate Program I wholeheartedly recommend it. The word that continually comes up from those I now facilitate breath work sessions for is ‘profound’; and having experienced many times over the simple magic that is Inspirational Breath, as both receiver and facilitator, I can assure you that it remains as such, no matter which role you play, and no matter how many times over you choose to consciously breath together.Daisy Ellison