How breathing helped me find and reconnect with my plus-size body


Can we talk about how Breathwork helped me overcome some challenges? After I recovered from a knee injury that kept me on bed rest for months, followed by many more months of recovery, I struggled with a serious fear of hurting myself again.

In fact, it started before he could fully walk again. My PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, would wake me up in the middle of the night after dreaming about falling and hurting myself. I had always been quite adept at experiencing fear, but not letting that fear stop me… but this fear was different. It was so deeply ingrained and, in a way, debilitating.

Image via Jillian

I had been a runner all my life. I used to go running in the park for fun and joined Cross Country, as soon as I was old enough. I wasn’t the fastest and I wasn’t going to set any records, but it was always something that brought me a lot of joy. I could put on headphones, smell the fresh air, feel the wind brushing against me, and RUN.

There are no rules to follow, I just let my body guide me. Sometimes I would stop and stare at the clouds, other times I would take a break and swing on the playground before continuing my run. It was my stress reliever and me time without distractions.

That’s why it was so devastating when my doctor told me not to run anymore. That’s what worked for me, it was all I knew!

Now I was stuck with this deep fear of hurting myself again, and the only way I knew how to move my body and de-stress was taken away from me.

In addition to mental therapy, I still needed a way to move my body that brought me joy and find a way to de-stress. However, my anxiety did not allow me to try new things, so I needed to reconnect with my body before I could start moving it.

How breathing helped me find and connect with my plus size body again

breathing. That was the first step. I know we’ve all been breathing since we were born, so I was skeptical that “breath work” could be as impactful, and even more skeptical that it could match the feeling that running gave me.

Plus Size Breath Work
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Breathing is a breathing technique where you intentionally change your breathing pattern to breathe in a very conscious way.

When you slow your breathing to a deep, purposeful breath, you allow your brain to relax, letting you know you are safe, which also allows the nervous system to calm down.

Types of breathing:

Alternate nostril breathing

Alternating between thumb and forefinger, apply pressure to the right and left nostrils, consistently inhaling through one and exhaling through the other.

Plus Size Breath Work
image via Canva

4-7-8 Breath

Count as you breathe… Inhale 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts. This allows your lungs to fully empty, however it may take some practice.

breathing box

Count as you breathe… Inhale for a count of 4, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, then hold again for 4 seconds.

Plus Size Breath Work
image of the author

Deep Abdominal Breathing

Visualize your breath, filling your body in one long, deep breath. You should be able to physically see yourself breathing and follow what feels comfortable for your body.

There are more types of breathing techniques, if you go to a professional who can help you in the process. For all of these techniques, try to limit the amount of outside noise when you practice them, especially at first.

Deep abdominal breathing is my favorite because I find it hard to relax if I’m trying to count and I’d rather be “in my body” than “in my mind.” Sometimes I also visualize myself “breathing through my back” because I have a lot of tension in my back.

Plus Size Breath Work
Image via Canva

Throughout my breathwork practice, I have been able to calm my nervous system, reduce my stress, and allow myself to quickly overcome PTSD moments, drastically minimizing the frequency of them. If I find myself in a moment where my mind imagines me falling or hurting myself, I try to take deep abdominal breaths until it passes.

I have noticed that the more I practice this, the faster I can get to the point of relaxation while breathing. I try to start and end every day lying in bed breathing for at least 5-15 minutes, so that I can start and end my day in peace.

As always, trust your own body. What works for one person may not work for another and ultimately you have to figure out what is best for you.

Now that I have a grip on my trauma and have reconnected with my body, I am ready to find new ways that I can move, that brings me the joy and self-care that running used to bring me!


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