Hi, I’m Hayley Enright, the founder of Lisbon Wellness which is a collective of holistic practitioners with wonderful tools to help people feel healthier and happier. I recently talked with breathwork facilitator Inês Sanches about the power and beauty of the practice…
Enjoy this quick read and get in touch if you have any questions!
Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself…
My name is Inês and I’m a trauma-informed breathwork facilitator with a somatic focus and a shadow worker. I came into this beautiful path of human evolution and growth after a series of burnouts in my career as a financial analyst. It made me reconsider my mission on this earth and now I’m sure that is to create safe spaces where people can tap into their feelings and deeper layers of themselves to start living in authenticity deconditioned from negative self-beliefs.
Q. How did you get into breathwork? What’s the training like?
It showed up unexpectedly but right when I needed it. I had been meditating for years and had done some therapy. But in the midst of the pandemic nothing worked with my anxiety. A meditation colleague was offering 1:1 breathwork sessions as part of her training and that caught my eye. The session was mind-blowing and from then on I couldn’t stop exploring the field. It really helped me relax and connect with the body to release a stuck feelings but also tap into negative beliefs and patterns. The impact was such that I decided to become a facilitator.
The training I did with Alchemy of Breath takes a year to complete. Besides learning all about the breath and breath techniques, you learn about subjects such as anatomy, trauma and psychology and you dive deep into safety. The program is mostly online and then you have a breathcamp week to present your final project. In my case I did an additional year mentoring students.
Q. Why is breathwork becoming so popular today?
I’m tempted to say… if you haven’t tried it before, come and experience it for yourself! But here are three main reasons – one physical, one mental and one spiritual.
Physically, the change in gasses caused by breathwork – increase the O2 levels in the blood and decrease CO2 – creates a wide range of unusual sensations throughout. This can be so unexpected that the breather’s attention goes all into the body and out from the busy mind – which for some people may be the first time! And then, with regular practice many breathers report improvements in their breath, stress and inflammation levels and better sleep.
Mentally, breathwork penetrates the layers of the mind into the subconscious in ways that other modalities only seem to scratch the surface. The technique often leads the breather into different brain waves such as theta- with deep relaxation and a high state of awareness. Here the breather can access deep hidden memories and the limbic system – the emotional centre of your brain. This is why breathwork is so effective at getting to the effects of traumatic events and starting healing.
Spiritually, there are reports of people feeling like they are communing with a bigger power. In my experience I once felt my body expanding so wide until I became universal, part of something much bigger. In some cases you may even reach psychedelic-like states and intense eye movement. Needless to say that these are extremely transformative if well integrated.
It’s important to mention, though, that the range of experiences is extremely varied in every breathwork. Some sessions are extremely relaxing and give you lots of energy while others bring you into tender spaces. Your body and breath will only take you where you need to go in each session.
Q. Have you seen any “miracles?”
An experience that really delighted me happened with one of my online clients. During one session she began to feel like she was drowning and was very afraid. She felt the body resisting that feeling of drowning and was challenged. But as she began to let go, she started feeling peaceful. After the session, she felt much lighter, like she had released a burden out of her shoulders. She later told me she had always been afraid of swimming and diving into water. The next session she was very happy to tell me that she had actually practiced diving and for the first time she wasn’t afraid and truly enjoyed it. We were both so excited.
Q. What’s different about your style and why is that important?
The way I work with the breath is a combination of the things that have resonated and worked with me. I don’t like to facilitate the sessions where I dictate everything the breather is doing – there are always options that work for different kinds of nervous systems and levels and makes the breather more autonomous.
My style merges music, full body awareness, vocal tuning, sound healing and movement. What I’ve found is that the combination of these different tools provides the best and safest way to go inwards. Another distinctive characteristic of my sessions is that I enjoy using soundtracks, operas and new age electronic sounds in my playlists, rather than the shamanic sounds that many other practitioners like to use. These styles have so much beauty and emotion and in my experience resonate deeper with western minds. My work also reflects a lot of what I am. A blend of fun, digestible science and grounded spirituality.
Q. What kinds of problems do people usually seek help with?
There’s a wide range. The majority are people dealing with lots of stress and anxiety, looking to find ways to self-regulate. I also have people aiming to reconnect with themselves, to overcome blocks in life, to connect with their bodies, to help find better ways to deal with the negative voices in their minds, and in search of better ways to breathe.
Q. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
For all of us to stop obsessing about the external world and care more about our inner worlds- raise the consciousness of human beings to the importance of self-exploration. Once we realize that the external society is merely a reflection of what goes within then we have power to change it.
Q. What’s your favorite thing about Lisbon?
The only thing that hasn’t really changed in all the years I’ve lived here! It’s proximity to the beach and forest.