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Breathwork: What Is It and How Does it Work?

by Michelle Lui |

Wellness Series: Ashley Dawn Armstrong Breathwork Practitioner

Life can get stressful (especially this time of year) and we may not always have time for that elaborate selfcare routine to feel our best. Thankfully we have everything we need within us and it all starts with breathwork. This one practice is scientifically backed - effective against anxiety, concentration, and reducing stress. We sat down with Ashley Dawn to learn more about this revolutionized practice and why it’s become a modern-day therapy tool.  

Meet the Expert

Ashley Dawn is a wellness expert with over 16 years of experience, trained in Breathwork and a woman’s circle founder and facilitator for Where We Gather

What is Breathwork?

“Breathwork is somatic practice accessed through breathing techniques that allow you to ground through the body using your emotions as an intuitive guidance system. This is a therapeutic technique that utilizes simple breathing practices to lead the client into a non-ordinary state of consciousness where unconscious and previously repressed thoughts and emotions can more easily rise to the surface for integration. It is quite incredible what you can achieve with the power of one’s breath.” 

Benefits of Breathwork?

“Immediately your nervous system can move into a place of rest and reset as blocked energy is being cleared. The goal is to find balance physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. In my experience, Breathwork is the fastest way to connect to one's true self and break free from limiting beliefs.” 

When to use Breathwork?

“Just like exercise or eating well, the more you practice the greater the results. Breathwork is not only beneficial in times of despair or when you're going through an initiation; some of my most powerful breakthroughs have been when life is in flow.” 

What’s your go-to breathwork technique?

“I practice and am trained in the circular breathing technique. I highly recommend connecting with a trained practitioner and do not suggest this method solo or unobserved.” Circular breathing is very popular in meditation and is believed to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. If done correctly, you can access a deeper sense of flow and ease of breath – which makes this exercise quite hypnotic. 

For a safe solo practice, I suggest box breathing. Box breathing is easy to do, quick to learn, and can be highly effective in stressful situations or for people who want to re-center themselves or improve their concentration. 

Before you get started, make sure that you’re seated upright. Keeping your hands relaxed in your lap with your palms facing up, focus on your posture. This will help you take deep breaths. 

Box breathing involves four basic steps, each lasting 4 seconds:

  1. Breathing in 
  2. Holding the breath 
  3. Breathing out 
  4. Holding the breath 

    Best place to practice? 

    “It is most important to be in a quiet and softly lit space. If you are in your own home, I encourage you to create a sacred space where you will be uninterrupted. If you are practicing in someone else's home or space, my wish for you is to feel held and safe.”

    Practice With Ashley

    Enjoy a breathwork series for a morning, afternoon and evening ritual anytime anywhere. Play series.

    How can people connect with you?

    “You can find me and my latest offerings on Instagram @ashleydawnarmstrong or by sending me an email at