By guest author Vanessa Werner an avid snowboarder and owner of Four Directions Breathwork.

You take 26,000 breaths a day.

Above food and water, breath is the most vital nutrient required for survival, with its expansion and contraction the necessary movement of life-force. Through its animating quality, breath gives the body its living essence and with each inhale and exhale there is receiving of new, and surrendering of old.

Breath supports our personal journey inward and ripples through our perspectives outward. Breath is connected to our need for adventure, the risks we take, the challenges we rise up too and the rewards we seek. Once we understand it, we can harness breath as one of our best tools of recovery, focus, and presence.

Within snowboarding, resilience is always challenged, performance always measured and mental and emotional strength tested as much as physical endurance. There can be pressure to exceed, frustrations with injuries and depression with recovery – to take a risk in any sport is to take a risk within and awareness of our breath and nervous system state is essential to our support.

Photo by Abby Cooper

Our breath cycle is a reflection of our emotional state, it activates the nervous system, changes the endocrine system and influences brain function. Breath patterns are created through the nature of our own life experience, shaping our capacity to move out of fight, flight and freeze responses.

A gateway between the conscious and the subconscious – the practice of breathwork allows us to naturally regulate these patterns and the mental, emotional, physical symptoms created as a result. Awareness is strengthened of areas in the body where there is a lack of freedom or that may have shut down with stored trauma or pain.


  • INCREASE bodily awareness and decrease muscle tension.
  • STAMINA and mental resilience are harnessed while fatigue is reduced.
  • RESTORE balance of the nervous system and expand lung capacity.
  • FOCUS is sharpened with mental clarity achieved.

“I felt that Vanessa‘s Breathwork classes were a rejuvenating approach to calming the mind. Breathwork is one of the most important functions as a human and in snowboarding I use it on the daily to ease my anxiety before riding a big line.” – Leanne Pelosi

Breath teaches us to be with all that is moving, to feel into our shadows, to shift what may be stagnant and to alter traumas way of showing up and our systems response to it. To amplify the work we do in the world, we need to first start doing the work within. Having the courage to go as big and as deep into ourselves as we do in the mountains.

Take a breath, breathe into your unknown and explore the terrain within you.

Vanessa Werner, Four Directions Breathwork

MEET THE AUTHOR: Hey! I’m Vanessa, a snowboarder and breathwork facilitator based in Whistler. My dad’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease led me to study the nervous system and the effects stress, injury and trauma create within us. It is my passion to support change and encourage growth within individuals and the community through this practice.

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