A Hardie Grant Books book 4th January 2023
Follow Your Breath
Transform Yourself Through Breathwork
Emma Power Jenna Meade
Follow Your Breath is a practical introduction to life-changing breathing techniques, offering a ‘breathwork menu’ so you can turn to the page according to what you need at any given time and access this incredible life hack.
Whether it’s calming down, sparking up, preparing for physical activity, settling in for a deep meditation, dealing with a health or sinus issue, focusing for a test, managing insomnia or wanting to get a natural euphoric high, Follow Your Breath has you covered. Breath activates communication pathways between the mind and body to positively affect our emotions, and we can even use the breath as a vehicle to shift our level of consciousness. In Follow Your Breath you are offered a range of easy-to-follow practices with step-by-step instructions, diagrams and post-practice notes so you can start shifting your mental state today.
By using this book you’ll unlock one of the greatest – and most accessible – life hacks. Your breath will become your personal, pocket-ready superpower that you can pull out anywhere, anytime – no complicated equipment needed.
HHB QA with the authors of the book Emma Power and Jenna Meade.
1 How did you both meet and what inspired you to write a book about Breathing.
We met and started working together when we were both living by the Victorian seaside – Emma in Lorne and Jenna in Jan Juc. Breathing has been an integral part of Emma’s life journey. She spent a decade gathering practices and learnings from teachers, tantrics, yogis and swamis across the world. As well as experiencing the positive effects firsthand, she has also seen the life-altering impact breathwork has had on her thousands of students. She was often encouraged – and begged – to write it all down. We teamed up, and with Emma’s wisdom and knowledge, and Jenna’s journalistic research side, we are so proud to be putting these game-changing practices into people’s palms.
2 Can you give me some examples of what benefits it has helped yourself in your lives and the benefits that you’re hearing about making practice at daily routines in how to breathe?
Emma: Honestly, the benefits are endless. The way we have laid out the book is a direct reflection of how I integrate breathwork into my life. The first part of the book is called ‘Shift’ and offers on-the-spot practices. These I use to calm myself in a tricky moment or expand myself in a beautiful one. Next we offer Commit practices – these are the techniques I use daily to strengthen my mental and physical health. The practices I use from the Expand section of the book offers me peak experiences – I use these to enhance my meditation and yoga practice, as well as during sex.
Jenna: I’m a relatively new breathwork student, so researching and writing this book has been profoundly helpful in many areas of my life. I was a new mum when we started mapping out the book, and the practices were by my side in many challenging situations. Learning how to soothe my system – and in turn my baby’s system – was endlessly helpful during that new mum haze of sleep deprivation and transition into parenthood. Now, I can breathe to recenter myself during my toddler’s tantrums, and bring about clarity to get us both back on track. I can step away from my partner during an argument, fire off a few rounds of breath to regain calm and help bring about a helpful solution, and I can use my breath to reduce the stress or anxiety associated with looming work deadlines.
3 What would you recommend in how to start off if you are obviously a person that is really full on and need to eliminate stress out of their lives?
Giving yourself permission to practice breathwork is a soul warming first step – setting this intention is the most important step to self-soothing in stressful times. There are many practices in the book targeted at stress, because the reality is so many of us are living in a constant stress state. And in this state, we’re taking short, shallow breaths into our chests – rather than into our bellies – that can actually increase our stress levels. One simple way to reduce stress is by tapping into your body and actively making your exhalations longer than your inhalations. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxing and calming.
4 Do you feel that your book would benefit parents to teach their young children to get into practice earlier in their lives? What is the best way to work this for kids that are into their gadgets especially?
Guiding children through breathwork practices is like giving them a gift for life. An effective way to do so is to model breathwork in real-time. For example, if you’re feeling frustrated, you could tell your child: “I feel like I’m starting to get frustrated. I’m going to take some deep breaths in, then out.” You can then remind them of the deep breaths the next time they are dealing with a big emotion.
Breathwork is a calming tool before bed or after an intense activity, and can also be done after screen/gadget time. Rather than taking away their screen time, instead carve out a time in your day to practice – this could be in the morning after breakfast or unwinding together at the end of the day.
The practice will vary depending on your child’s age. For young children, you could have a heart-to-heart hug where you hug your child and take three slow deep breaths together, synchronising your breathing. For older children, you could lead them through a simple breathing exercise, such as Diaphragmatic Breath. As with adults, this will take practice, so try to continue daily with your little ones to see the results.
5 Are you finding that after Covid more people are seeking ways to calm their lives more as to mental health issues and losses they have experienced?
The research certainly indicates that people are struggling with their mental health after the pandemic. We hope that this book can offer healing to our readers – that it can be a safe and supportive space for them to learn skills that can help them not only during hardship but throughout their lives.