"What can we do but keep on breathing in and out, modest and willing, and in our places?"

–Mary Oliver

Breathing is our body's most basic function—so basic that most do not listen to it or acknowledge it at all. But for trauma survivors and those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the breath is one of the first physiological functions to be disrupted by the effects of stress and anxiety. Once breathing is disturbed, the somatic system becomes stressed, causing further mental and physical symptoms to emerge.

Medical and mental health professionals widely acknowledge the physiological disturbances caused by exposure to trauma. Trauma survivors often experience a state of hypervigilance, a high-anxiety state in which the body is almost always in "fight, flight or freeze" mode. The body remains ready to react to or retreat from any threat. This state is often marked by shallow breathing and shortness of breath. By helping people relearn the simple act of breathing deeply and with awareness, it is possible to repair and relax the central nervous system.

Joyful Heart's programming includes focused breathwork instruction with experts in the field. Once participants learn calm, quiet breathing and regain control over the breath, it is a tool that they can return to easily at any time to help manage anxiety, overwhelming emotions and stressful situations.

Printer-friendly version