We’ve all heard our teachers encouraging us to take a deep, deep breath, whether just starting a class, pausing for a re-set or about to pounce into an energized sprint. But, did you know, simply breathing—and using your breath with awareness, specificity and different variations—is actually a healing modality all on its own? Breathwork, the practice of doing just this, is popping up more and more as a super-effective, gentle and unique approach. California yoga teacher and breathwork practitioner Chelcy Pine helps all her clients feel its power, and she also experiences its gifts as a yoga and breathwork enthusiast, too.
Originally from Michigan, Pine was actually a bookworm growing up, hardly moving at all as a child. She earned her degree in poetry in 2013, and then she moved to San Diego, hoping to alleviate asthma, allergy and breathing problems she experienced in college. Even though she moved there with the aim of finding a writing job, she found—and fell in love with—yoga instead. For the first time in years, she could truly breathe, and she followed the path to Kundalini and eventually breathwork too.
Now, she knows what she wanted all along was to combine her love for the human experience with healing, and her passion led her to becoming a full-time practitioner. Read on to hear more from Chelcy, and about how breathwork can become a wonderful addition to your wellness routine.
SBS: What's your unique approach to each of the areas? What style of teacher are you?
Chelcy Pine: My offerings are all under the umbrella of yoga and breathwork, ranging from Vinyasa to Yin to Reiki mastership and Kundalini yoga and breathwork (my favorites!). I approach all of my teachings from a space of connection and a space of love, and I’d have to say I’m much more inspired and dedicated to the energetics of these offerings versus only the physical aspects.
I call Vinyasa a meditation on movement, Yin, a meditation on stillness. Kundalini is a meditation for anything and everything, and it helps me to step in to my power and feel mentally clear and connected and in my own. Breathwork is where I teach from all love. I want everyone to be able to experience the ability of turning their grief or experiences in to their superpower. I teach from the heart because I believe it is the biggest and most divine aspect of ourselves.
SBS: How do you describe breathwork? What interested you about it?
CP: Breathwork is a way to reprogram the nervous system, to use your breath, the most pure, powerful and positive energy that we have access to at all times naturally, to go in to your body and remove physical blockages and emotional baggage. Breathwork has always intrigued me in how powerful of a tool it is in healing, in how many miracles it has provided, and how many miracles I have seen it give to others.
When it comes to the experience of my students and clients, I see it work in the ways they need more ‘life force.’ I see it give them back their power to step in to their purpose, in to their mission, connect to their truth and expression, and release fear or anxiety of what may be holding them back. And what makes it so useful is that they are the ones breathing and they are the ones doing the work, even if I am facilitating it. So powerful!
SBS: What advice would you give to new practitioners in each area?
CP: I always tell new practitioners who seek out tips or advice from me personally to always remember their why…remember what brought them to the practice as a student in the first place and teach from that pure space. I also suggest they teach the class that is in front of them based on their individual and collective needs versus having their own agenda. That holding space sometimes means more silence and energetic support to allow the students to feel versus telling the students how they should feel. Show up and keep up with your own practice just as much if not twice as much as you teach or facilitate, so the energy is already in you. Act as a channel of that energy. Make everyone who walks in the door feel welcome and like they belong, as well as all aspects they bring with them.
SBS: What advice would you give to clients investigating breathwork for the first time?
CP: I always suggest breathwork for a multitude of reasons, from the scientifically-based physical, health reasons all the way to finding a real spiritual connection. It is hard for dis-‘ease’ to live in a hyper-oxygenated system. I would say to show up as you are and be open to experiencing whatever it is you are meant to experience. And go in to breathing with a real energetic intention, looking at the breath like it can work for you and make you a magnet for what you want and need. And more than anything, be open to receiving your joy or be open to being reminded that you are deserving of a happy life
SBS: What's your own wellness routine? How has it evolved?
CP: My own wellness routine consists of daily breathing or Kundalini meditation exercises to keep me anchored and to keep me clear. I love to give myself Reiki and meditate alone, but I also love practicing yoga and movement in a community-based space or studio to hold me accountable. I also love to receive massage and acupuncture at least once a month to compliment my personal practice so that I can remember how important it is to just receive, so that I can have the energy it takes to show up for my students, family and friends. Part of my wellness also means taking time to clear mental space, whether it is random dancing or watching spoken word or doing something totally out of the norm to break out of my mental patterns that get in the way of me achieving my best self.
SBS: What's your approach to nutrition?
CP: To be honest, the deeper I go in to healing work, the less obsessive I am about my nutritional plan and regiment. I give my body what it wants and what it asks for. Listening to that voice and that calling takes a lot of checking in. It’s important (most important) to me recently to make sure that I am drinking the most water to feel grounded. I do my best to eat clean, real foods: foods without labels. I try to remember that we are what we eat when I crave otherwise to bring myself to raw and realness in my character. So depending on the day, this changes!
SBS: What are some trends you love? Hate?
CP: I really love veganism, although I am not always plant-based. I honor the philosophy and lifestyle for all reasons: ethical, environmental and physical. I love a good, challenging but exciting exercise or cardio-based class, and I am one who despises gym settings and could not feel less inspired on a treadmill surrounded by strangers. Half of me puts myself in this position because I know facing the resistant head on will grow me in ways I could use growth. The other more realistic part of me seeks out Muay Thai or kickboxing because I really connect to mind-body connection and feel inspired energetically when I am in those classes. However, I don’t think anything tops my passion for hot yoga, specifically unique and heart-centered teachers, like those of Indie Yoga in Ocean Beach.
The best, zaniest part of being Chelcy: I love how dynamic I have evolved to be and at last feel liberated in giving myself permission to be. I love passion so much that I will connect to almost any human who embodies it, regardless of their art. I love to go very deep with healing arts but then find a way to laugh at the irony of life and laugh hard. I love being able to be in deep healing environments and then to be in a crowd of strangers dancing wildly, and loving the fuck out of both because of how they can serve different aspects of me in their own ways.
Chelcy’s SBS Mantra: Be Mindful because it embodies the rest. If you are mindful, you are tapping in to your awareness, and just in that tapping in alone, you expand your consciousness. I believe that from that expansion, we connect deeper to our truth. In being mindful, we start to operate from our higher selves, create less drama for ourselves, and instead, start to create a life we want…one we deserve.
Chelcy’s Cali Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: Cafe Gratitude
Splurge Restaurant: Kindred, Born and Raised
Nightlife Spot: Trilogy for conscious dance parties
Yoga Studio: Indie Yoga
Fitness Studio: Buddhi Yoga or Victory MMA & Fitness
Fun Activity: Spoken word nights at Queen Bees
Calming Activity: Sound healing or yoga nidra
Books: The Presence Process by Michael Brown or Kundalini yoga textbooks