NERVOUS SYSTEM BALANCING
Kathy will teach you breathwork, gentle Qigong movements, and coherent breathing, the optimal breath for most people. These skills are necessary for self-care and to reverse the negative effects of stress. You can work with Kathy one-on-one, as a couple or cohort, or take a class.
If you live in the Greater Washington, D.C.-Baltimore-Frederick region, reach out to Kathy if you want to work one-on-one in person. Classes and coaching also take place on on Zoom. Want to discuss your unique needs? Schedule an appointment with Kathy here.
WHY DOES IT WORK?
The respiratory system has top priority when it comes to where your attention rests. When we are under stress, our attention is on the stress because stress signals threat. Our gut, heart, and brain focus on protecting us.
When we have shallow breathing, high stress, unresolved trauma, or burnout, we are in a heightened, perpetual fight/flight/freeze nervous system reaction to daily life. Out of balance, we are more easily triggered. We are more likely to be controlling, distressed, anxious, numb, reactive, tired, frustrated, or impulsive.
Movement with deep voluntary regulated breathing is the fastest way to stimulate the vagus nerve, the main component of the calming parasympathetic branch of the nervous system. The vagus nerve carries an extensive range of signals from the digestive system and all your organs to the brain and vice versa. It oversees crucial bodily functions like control of mood, immune response, inflammation, digestion, and heart rate.
Kathy's evidence-based practices bring the breath and vagus nerve into partnership to strengthen your capacity to regulate your emotions and recover from stress. The vagus nerve ascends from the base of the spine, wandering around the gut, heart, and throat, touching all your organs. It ascends to relay stations in the brainstem and extends via the thalamus to the cerebral cortex, quieting excess thinking activity. At the same time, other branches of the pathway enter the centers of emotion regulation in the limbic system, including the amygdala and hippocampus, reducing emotional reactivity. The tendency to calm the intellect and the emotions help account for the rapid effects of movement and coherent breathing in reducing negative thoughts and emotions, while also activating the prefrontal cortex and higher-level brain functions. We ground ourselves in more natural states of focus, receptivity, and agency.
Research shows that stimulating this nerve helps address depression, anxiety, PTSD, and inflammatory bowel disease. Practices that target the vagus nerve increase vagal tone and inhibit cytokine production. Both are important mechanisms of resiliency. When we learn to respond rather than react, we take control of our lives, deepen our relationships, and imagine new possibilities for how we want to be in this world.
Movement and conscious breathing are easy, uplifting, and free. They nourish all aspects of our being. Anyone can learn how to balance their nervous system and live with greater health. The skills Kathy teaches were pioneered by two ground-breaking integrative psychiatrists, Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, authors of The Healing Power of the Breath. Kathy is a Level 3-certified Breath-Body-Mind™ coach and has taught thousands of people these life-affirming practices.
These skills are needed now more than ever. Mental health in America was in decline heading into the pandemic (see Mental Health America's 2022 report). According to the American Psychiatric Association, in December 2021. About 55% of Americans report feeling somewhat or very anxious about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 58% of Americans report they are somewhat or very anxious about the state of their personal finances. More than half (54%) report feeling somewhat or very anxious about the uncertainty of 2022. Adults, teens, and children are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being.
These simple skills, practiced 15minutes a day, will help you relax and focus, provide relief from stress, give you more energy, and allow you to rest when the day is done.
“Thank you for this peaceful session. Feeling hopeful."
"Having these skills at this time gives me strength."
"I feel like I know my worth and am grateful for my mother."
“I feel silence and peace. So relaxing."
"I have two kids with autism. This is really helpful for me and my family."
"Our breathing buddies help us settle down before homework."