The first and second installments of my story cataloged my personal journey with breath and yoga. Now, as a practicing Yoga Tune Up® teacher, my journey was about to take me to another YTU immersion, Breath and Bliss.
I had never been to LA before, but I was determined to attend Breath and Bliss in Tarzana, California with Jill Miller after she came back from her precious maternity leave with her second child, a beautiful little boy named Asher.
This training could not have been more different from the Level 1 certification training. Instead of tuning up our bodies, we were tuning up our breath and our vagus nerve – that transatlantic cable of a nerve that opens a door onto our parasympathetic nervous system.
Could I be moved out of my habitual fight and flight stress? I wondered this as I gripped the steering wheel of the tiny Fiat I had rented and navigated those famous LA highways. I worried that it would probably take the whole weekend just to recover from my highway adventure from LAX to my hotel room near the Tarzana YogaWorks.
I loved every minute of Breath and Bliss. Can you imagine starting a Yoga Tune Up® class that starts with savasana and continues that way for several hours? Each participant, on his or her mat, experienced something different as we all learned about the vagus nerve and how we could access it. Each of us, though, had a different inner-stress story that needed release.
One of our many inner searches, invited us to lay with our neck and heads turned to the side on the Coregeous® ball. We breathed and gently pressed our heads into the ball. I felt a whoosh – that’s the only way I can describe it – as tension stuck in my neck left my body. I felt a wash of relief. As a result of my life-long habitual headaches, I had developed the very unhelpful habit of cocking my neck in one direction and then another as a way to shake out the tension. With this habit, I was treating my body like a bicycle – just shift a gear.
But my breath, the feeling of deep oneness within me, and the cushion of the ball did just the opposite of my typically rough treatment of myself. As I melted into the softness of the ball, I became unstuck. I now use this process for myself and share it in my classes because many of my students also experience stuckness in their necks and tension that creates headaches.
After several months, I found a story that helped me to understand what kind of work was being done during those amazing three days at the Breath and Bliss immersion.
I had been reading Martha Beck’s book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want ( Simon & Schuster, 2012). Beck uses the “technology” of traveling inward into what she calls the mystical skills of Wordlessness and Oneness, which bear some similarity to meditation and spirituality (but much more fun!). I was fascinated by Beck’s own personal story and her advice to others seeking their true purpose.
Much of Beck’s book is built on her deep connections with the oneness created when we connect deeply with animals. She told the story of how her dear friend Koelle, renowned as a horse whisperer, taught her to communicate and interact with a horse. Oneness, for a horse whisperer, is when you feel an animal “join up” with you. In Beck’s words, you’ll feel, “the soft footsteps coming closer, of the palomino’s soul touching yours, of the sweet velvet noses against your back” (p.68).
Back in Tarzana, as we felt our mats beneath us, we learned to breathe in new ways. We learned to roll our balls in specific ways to contact the vagus nerve. We hugged ourselves and moved in undulating patterns. We softened our hard shells. And we created space for each of us to engage in a deep, deep practice of yoga and breath. We welcomed our souls and felt ourselves “join up” and enter ways of being with ourselves that felt like a new self that that welcomed an old self to shift, to melt, to respond.
In all of this, we called on each of ourselves to join up with those parts of ourselves that had been cut off or distanced. In this deep practice, we were becoming self-soul whisperers.
Liked this article? Read My Three Favorite Lessons from Jill Miller
I am registered for the Breath and Bliss training next October… Your text enlightens me on the experience to be lived and I can’t wait to whisper to my soul after the YTU teacher training lived intensely this summer!
I love this idea of journeying inward to “join up” with oneself. Reading this blog speaks to me and my desire to explore my inner landscape and to learn techniques to help others achieve greater connection and relaxation. This is definitely a training I will be looking to take!
Wow! This sounds like a wonderful experience. I can completely relate to the chronic fight and flight state and the realization of oneness felt when we turn on the parasympathetic nervous system. The more people that can access this state the better.
very excited to learn more about the vagus nerve
I can relate to that… breath and bliss is the first YTU immersion I took and I loved it so much for everything we felt and realized during those three days.
Thank you for writing about this class! I really wanted someone’s feedback. I think that breath is incredibly powerful. It can save the moment and help you release and move forward. Learn how to access vagus nerve? Yes please!! I can’t wait to learn breathing techniques that help the nervous system and I can’t WAIT take this course one day!
Thank you for sharing your experience with Breath and Bliss. I’m looking forward to this training.
I love the transformative power of breath. I am in the YTU TT right now, dreaming of doing this immersion. That we can connect more deeply with ourselves through breath is empowering.
As I was reading your post, I felt transported into my own version of the blissful experience that you described. I’ve done a little bit of coregeous belly exercices, mainly to “dissolve” adhrences after a ovarian kyst surgery and have found it to be pretty intense! I haven’t gotten to the point where I could totally relax and release though. Your article entices me to explore longer held prone poses with the coregeous ball or folded blanket. Many thanks!
Very glad to hear your training experience. Thank you for giving me a little taste what Jill’s Breath and Bliss would be like. Sounds like another YTU magic! Can’t really under estimate the power of Self-love. Giving permission to ourselves to reconnect to our body or just FEEL sometime is all we need.
I think you just sold me on the Breath & Bliss immersion! Over the past several years I’ve become a victim of more and more tension and pressure headaches/migraines, and it’s gotten especially bad in the past few months. It sounds like this is the next step I need to take!
Thank you for your endorsement of the Breath and Bliss training. I hope to take this soon.
This immersion is now on my “To do list”!
I recently completed the YTU Level One training and am looking forward to fall when I plan on taking some more YTU classes. Your lovely article has hooked my interest in discovering the vagus nerve and it’s connection with breath. I’m so glad you wrote this, as I feel the serendipitous guide to “what’s next”.
I took Jill Miller’s Breath and Bliss class last year as well. What an incredible experience! I too felt myself whisper to my soul. The last day, I allowed myself to surface feelings of loneliness that had been arising for me. I sat with these feelings as we went though the final breathing session. I was transported from childhood to adulthood and shown images that brought me healing and answers around the root cause of my loneliness. Breathing a powerful connection to our soul.
Breath and Bliss was a life-changing course for me. I’ve incorporated much of what I learned into daily life with great results!
I love how you described being in touch with your breath as a way to “join up with those parts of ourselves that have been cut off or distanced”. Who can’t use more of THAT?! Thank you!
Beautiful! I cannot wait to attend breath and bliss sometime.
Thank you for sharing your journey here AnnMerle. It was great being at this same training with you! We were able to spend a lot of time together outside of the training itself. I think I was a weeping soul all weekend! Things that literally swooped me up and released in so many amazing ways . It was truly my favorite trainings out of all them personally for me as I had been emotionally and physically storing so many things deep inside myself that surfaced. There was one particular exercise that we had to pair up into groups and create something ( I do not want to give away all the goods) and in that particular moment or moments for myself I experienced a huge release and felt “safe” . I was able to connect to a different level in savasana which enabled me to feel that level of safety from a different perspective and tears were flowing from my face like a beautiful stream from a waterfall. I have been forever transformed from that moment in my life and highly recommend this training to EVERYONE who wants to truly let go 🙂
Just what I needed to be reminded of on eve of Day 2 of my YTU TT1 training. Softening the hard shell. Engaging in deep practice and Connecting deeper into ourselves. This is what I hope to bring home to my students.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have a very good understanding of what this training entails now. Very interested in taking the leap and signing up.
This post is the reason why I sign up for my breath and bliss class. And thank you so much for the book reference AnnMerle!
This gives me so much hope for a future life I’ve felt I’ve not been able to tap into. I’m signing up for Breath and Bliss at the first opportunity.
Thank you for reminding us to pause and breathe to soften a little more. I will make time to attend the Breath and Bliss weekend for sure. I love this community so much wow!
It’s wonderful how you can bring your own “recovery” experiences into your teaching. I believe our learning grows so much deeper through our own struggles and those are important to share with our students. Thanks for sharing!
A very encouraging personal experience from that training and I might look forward to treating myself with this offering. Thanks for sharing
You’ve sold me, I just completed Level 1 training…Breath and Bliss has to be next! I want to feel the whoosh for myself! Great article!
Couldn’t agree with you more. This Immersion really opened my eyes to the fact that relaxation is a practice. I now do so much more work with the coregous ball in my classes. The book you reference also sounds interesting. Will have to pick it up. Thanks!
Wow, I can’t wait to try this! This sounds amazing!!! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for sharing your candid account, of your BREATH and BLISS training with Jill. It sounded fab .. I was lucky enough to do B&B with Dinneen Viggiano last month and loved the chance to explore a wide range of vagal toning options using balls and different breathing strategies. Thanks for highlighting, the corgeous ball neck release. I loved it as well :-)!! Enjoy your journey with embodying all that you are learning .
I also had a similar experience when I attended this workshop in Toronto, Ontario with Dinneen from that same particular exercise. That ‘whoosh’ feeling is the perfect way to describe the sensation I felt, and I also felt compelled to bring that into my classes to offer it to my students. Thank you for the reminder!
Thank you for sharing your experience, this is something to look forward to learning and something we all need to experience.
As my second day of yoga tune begins I am leaving a little overwhelmed, so thank you for sharing your journey.
What a beautiful reminder to soften and breathe. My reaction to the daily barrage of bad news lately is to armour and protect. Connecting to my breath body offers me a different choice.
This kind of work is so needed in our culture of forward momentum. Thanks for that reference to the hard shell. I hope to do this immersion one day.
After reading your wonderful article. I now feel the need to attend a Breath and Bliss training. I am currently taking my Level 1. So I will be looking for a Breath and Bliss training after I complete this course.
Thank you for writing such an inspiring article and impressing upon the fact that we all need to let go.
This is definitly the next course I will take!
My teacher kindly suggested it to me… Ans after reading your post, I understand the work at the deepest level that she was talking about!
I would love to become a “self soul wisperer”!
I think it is so fascinating that the deeper we go into ourselves, the more connected we become to the greater consciousness around us, whether in animals, other people, our environment, the cosmos. The air is our breath, the breath is the air. This immersion sounds amazing. Congrats on navigating LA freeways on your way to your bliss!
This sounds so “bliss”. I just recently finished my YTU Level 1 training and very eager to take ALL the immersions, but this is one that I will have at the top of my list. Breath = Life. It’s amazing to me that even the few techniques I currently know using the Coregeous ball, that I can notice a huge difference in my breathing being smoother, more full and ways to calm my soul. I have already used these techniques, and looking forward to this training to be able to offer more in my classes.
This sounds like a wonderful immersion. In my YTU Level 1 teacher training, it was mentioned that there is a lot of focus now on the vagus nerve to down regulate, similar to how recently there has been a major focus on fascia. It reminds me of the saying that was said in the Yoga Tune Up Class #4 (Restorative Hips)- “Down regulate to self regulate”. It’s interesting though how you mentioned that this was very different than the level 1 training, where a huge focus was on the abodes of breath and tubular core. I found that bringing attention to my breath was very active work for me during the L1 training. It made me realize how I need to find balance between ease and effort, even with breathing. I’m looking forward to taking this immersion eventually and noticing the differences in these experiences myself. Thank you for sharing.
You are not only a yoga teacher, but a great writer. What an inspiring piece. Namaste, Andrea
Sounds amazing! It is so important to focus on the benefits of restorative work. I know for myself it is much easier to convince myself to work “hard” than to experience, release, breath…
I also love your description of “shifting gears” with your neck position. I find myself doing the same thing and your blog brought that to my attention.
I can’t wait to find a Breath and Bliss immersion to attend. I have heard so much about it but have yet to find a training that fits into my schedule and life. Your descriptions have convinced me that I need to prioritize my own down-regulation and do it much sooner than I had planned! Thank you.