3 healing therapies which shaped my life

– The three healing therapies I am going to share with you – breathwork, yoga, and meditation – are the three core practices which helped to rebuild my life and continue to provide a harbor and safety net to this day, writes Ntathu Allen.

By Ntathu Allen

Have you ever felt like your life is spinning out of control?

You feel lost, scared, anxious and frightened?

Unable to enjoy positive things or happiness?

Or maybe you are pulled in too many directions, and one more tug, you’ll snap.

Doubting yourself, you struggle to carry on and withdraw from others.

What happened?

Did you cave in?

Give up?

Or push your way through only to crash on the other side?

If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you are not alone! 


Talking kindly to myself.


I had enough

There was a time when I felt all the above and more.

I had enough.

Enough of the life I was living and the pain I was in.

I had panic attacks, moments where the tightness in my chest got so severe it prevented me from speaking.

I didn’t care if I lived or died.

But somehow, I knew I had to live because I was a mum and had three tiny babies to care for and make sure they were ok.

If you have reached the stage in your journey where your pain has become so chronic and embedded, and you are searching for something to help you remember who you are, then this is for you.

I pray something you read in this blog post will spark your spirit and encourage you to find a way to carry on.

To take the next step and find a way through your pain.


Over the years, I experienced a variety of healing modalities, from Reiki, Emotional Freedom Technique, Polarity Therapy, Metamorphic Technique, Mirror Work, Affirmations, Visualisations, Massage…. the list goes on!


My safety net

The three healing therapies I am going to share with you – breathwork, yoga, and meditation – are the three core practices which helped to rebuild my life and continue to provide a harbor and safety net to this day.

First let me say, your story, your journey may be different from mine.

Your sense of loss more significant and more profound than mine.

So, what worked for me, may not sit comfortably with you or make any difference in your life.

Your pain and your journey are unique to you, and I hope something I share in this post may well prove handy to you and will spark something within you and the next step will reveal itself to you.


A series of losses

Before we go further, let me introduce myself to you and share a bit about my story so that you can get a sense of where I am coming from and how these three core therapies shaped my life and led me to be here sharing this moment with you.

If you read my first article, When I finally let go, my journey to healing started you will know I experienced a series of losses and life changes in a short space of time – a miscarriage, the sudden loss of my dear cousin Sherry (1995) and my brother John (1997) whilst adapting to life as a new mother with three children under 2.5.

Added to this, my career as a Probation Officer, supervising high-risk young offenders left me feeling emotionally drained and physically worn-out most nights.

My life was spiraling out of control.


Beyond my plastic smile

During supervision my line manager suggested I take time off and to make matters worse, she added it would be a good idea to have counseling because she was concerned about my emotional well-being and ability to do my job.

I didn’t understand what she meant.

I was still in denial.

I tried to justify my inability to hand work in on time, double booking appointments and missing client interviews stating I was feeling rundown due to too many late nights working at home, when my daughters were in bed, writing up case notes and court reports.

I was exhausted and just needed a couple of early nights, and I would be back on form.

Thankfully, my Senior saw beyond my plastic smile.

I broke down and described the severe chest pains I had and my fight to fall asleep because my mind was on a constant replay of the events and circumstances surrounding my miscarriage and Sherry’s and John’s death.

I was racked with guilt thinking it was my fault and kept wondering what I could have done to prevent these losses.

With hindsight I realize blaming myself for not spotting the signs and trying to turn back the clock was a futile exercise.

Nevertheless, until I started counseling, you couldn’t convince me otherwise. 

Exploring my breath.


A serious joke

During my initial counseling sessions, I explained my symptoms and concerns to the counselor expecting him to follow the line of inquiry I used in supervising my probation clients.

This was not the case.

His initial suggestions for me to meditate and use breathing exercises to relieve my stress and anxiety met with a blank, expressionless face.

I was a former athlete and had given birth to three children – including twins. So, I knew breathing was essential to help you achieve an outcome, yet I was confused and didn't understand how breathing could help me sleep better, stop the noise in my head and get rid of the tight pains in my chest.

As they say, hindsight is 20:20 vision and looking back those simple words “focus on your breath” and “the peace you seek lays within” now makes perfect sense.

Nowadays when I joke and say I owe my life to my breath, I am serious.

If you too find that hard to believe, that something so familiar and automatic as breathing can make such a difference in someone's life, you are not alone.

I thought the same when my counselor suggested I “sit on my bed before you go to sleep and take three deep breaths” as an insult to my intelligence.


Practice one: Breathing

What Is Your Breathwork?

We all breathe, there is nothing magical in that, yet through the consistent encouragement and teachings of the different therapists, guides and mentors who support my journey, I now regard my connection with my breath as my secret sauce and closest ally in times of joy and pain.

Over the years, I experienced a variety of healing modalities, from Reiki, Emotional Freedom Technique, Polarity Therapy, Metamorphic Technique, Mirror Work, Affirmations, Visualisations, Massage…. the list goes on!

The core practices of yoga, breathwork, and meditation are the techniques which sustain, nourish me and pull me through my life’s ups and downs.

From a yogic perspective, your breath is the link between your mind and your body.

When you breathe deeply and fully, you activate the parasympathetic branch of the central nervous system. This system allows the “rest and digest” response to filter through your body – as opposed to the “fight and flight” stress response of the sympathetic nervous system that governs your life.

If you are new to breathwork, here is a simple breathing exercise I recorded for you so that you can personally experience the healing properties of your breath.


Easy yoga breathing exercise

And If you prefer to read rather than watch the video, try this easy yoga breathing exercise anytime you feel overwhelmed and stressed:

1. Stop what you are doing and find a quiet comfortable space where you can sit undisturbed for 5–10 minutes.

2. Sit in a comfortable position. If sitting on a chair, make sure your feet are resting on the floor, toes pointing forwards. Lower your shoulders and tuck your chin slightly in to release tension on your neck.

3. Take a gentle breath out and softly breathe in.

4. Close your eyes and take a few moments to allow your thoughts to settle by turning your attention to your breath.

5. Become aware of your everyday breath and notice what you notice about the way you are breathing.

6. Take a slow steady deep breath in through your nose for a count of 1... 2... 3... and slowly breathe out, through your nose, again for a count of 1... 2... 3...

7. Repeat this breathing cycle for three to five rounds, breathing softly and gently in and out through your nose for a count of 1… 2… 3….

8. Open your eyes, keep a soft gaze and be still for a few more moments before you calmly re-engage with your day.


Practice 2: Yoga

The second primary healing therapy which helped to bring a sense of ease and comfort to my body is yoga.

In 2000 I undertook an intense 12 month personal and spiritual development course which included learning how to meditate, yoga and in-depth examination of universal spiritual practices and therapies.

It was a strong experience and as the landscape of my inner world exploded, and subtle shifts in my matrix spilled over into my everyday life, my relationships with colleagues and loved ones changed.

I recognized the seeds of discomfort in my marriage, at home and work.

Through constant exploration and deep inner work, I decided to travel to India for six weeks to train as a Yoga Teacher (2003), and in 2004 I resigned from my secure job as a Probation Officer to set up as a self-employed yoga teacher.

Looking back and based on what I now know what it takes to build a sustainable, profitable business, I am in awe that I made such a step.

The decision to end my marriage happened many years later and is a stage of my life which left me raw and exposed and drawing on the strength, teachings and my daily yoga and meditation practice to get through each day.

If you practice yoga, I am sure you’ll have your favorite pose and great mind-body awakenings.

My favorite yoga pose is now Downward Dog.

When I first started yoga, I disliked this pose with a passion, especially when doing the Sun Salutation. I couldn't find the stillness in the pose, and my wrists and legs and arms would ache.

Now I relish the opportunity to ease into my first Downward Dog and sometimes when I wake; I will spend a couple of minutes to breathe and relax my body into this pose before starting my day.

If you would like to try the Downward Dog pose, please make sure you can exercise by your doctor and gently follow these instructions:


How to do a Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

1. Begin on your hands and knees on all-fours. Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart, and your knees are hip-width. Place your hands slightly in front of your shoulders.

2. Spread your fingers wide and press your hands firmly into the mat. Make sure your middle fingers face directly forwards.

3. Tuck your toes in and draw your hips backwards towards your feet. Keep your arms straight and your back nice and flat.

4. Press your heels and feet downwards as you lift your knees of the floor and lift your hips and tailbone to the sky. Keep your knees slightly bent (do not lock your knees) and your heels off the floor. Lengthen your spine. So, your body represents a V-shape. Let your head hang down and relax your neck and jaw.

4. Gradually straighten your legs as far as you can comfortably go. Notice the stretch along the entire length of the body and breathe deep into the pose.

6. Spread your fingers to release the weight off your wrists and make any adjustments you need to make so you feel balanced in the pose.

7. Stay in this position for three-five rounds of deep yogic breaths then slowly come out of the pose.


Practice 3: Meditation

Learning to meditate is the third key to my growth and healing.

I would like to share with you a brief introduction to meditation and my understanding of this practice.

What is Meditation?

There are many different definitions of meditation. For me, meditation is my quiet space. Space, where I can remember the sacredness of life and connect with that part of me that knows all is well, is all knowing, mighty and wise.

The more I practice meditation and try to make it part of my daily life, the more I flow, smile and feel that deep connection, support, and strength from the experience, I am full, harmonious and happy.

During my meditation teacher training course, we were taught that meditation is like observing the sea on a calm and clear day.

When you meditate, you see beyond the horizon and grasp a glimpse of your infinite potential and connection with the vastness of the world.

During meditation you “travel inwards” and, with practice, you can fully experience a broad sense of calm, clarity, and conscious connection with all humanity.

And, while training to be a yoga teacher, in the Sivananda Yoga Teachers Training Course in Kerala, India, we had daily theoretical and practical lessons in meditation.

I still recall that feeling of awe and the sense of connection I felt sitting with the other yoga students and teachers. There were people from every corner of the globe, from all faiths, ages, and religions, and we were sitting together in silence, practicing meditation.

It was such an eye-opener for me to experience that depth of connection with such a diverse group of individuals. Learning to relax and meditate is a simple way to bring a sense of harmony, ease, and flow to your life.

As a black woman living and growing up in South East London, racism is rife and, up to that point, I saw the world through the lens of being a black woman living in a predominately white male-dominated culture.

Sitting there in silent meditation, I sensed that connection and finally understood what it means “to live as one.” To be at peace and sense the infinite potential inside myself and others; to see beyond my neighbors’ race, skin color, faith, and economic status and connect with them through their breath. It was a total life-changing moment for me to have that depth and sense of connection with people who had different beliefs and looked different from me. I deeply understood what my teachers meant by “we are one.”

Fifteen years later, breath-based meditation is still my primary form of meditation practice.

This discovery and feeling of “oneness and connection with the Divine” was a turning point in my spiritual journey and healing.

It led to a strong desire to share yoga and meditation with as many people as possible, especially in my then career as a probation officer working with young offenders and people serving custodial sentences.

I recall the joy and gratitude, when I finally got clearance to teach yoga and meditation in my local high-security prison, in 2013, 8 years after resigning from my job as a probation officer to follow my dream of bringing peace to the streets of London through teaching yoga and meditation to young offenders.


Nice and easy Meditation Technique 

Sit in a comfortable position and give yourself permission to relax and unwind for 2–10 minutes.

Turn your attention to your breath. Listen to the sound and movement of your breath flowing softly in and out through your nose. If you wish, you can close your eyes.

On your next breath, slowly breathe in, and quietly count “one.” Breathe out and count “two.” Breathe in and count “three,” breathe out and count “four.” Continue counting your breaths up to number 10. When you reach number 10, go back to number one and repeat the practice for 2–5 minutes.

If your mind wanders during the practice and you lose concentration, that’s ok, just return your attention back to your breath and begin counting from number one.

When you are ready, if your eyes are closed, slowly open your eyes, and notice the state of your mind, and energy of your thoughts.


Today, I no longer fear life. I know I can bounce back and know I will get through. That’s huge.


The journey is never-ending

Although we have come to the end of this post, as you know, our journey through life is never-ending.

I am still a work in progress and at times still seek outside of myself for answers.

The core of my existence is intact.

I no longer fear life.

No longer run away and hide when things feel hard and my energy low.

Nowadays, I can take a step back, pause, tune into my breath, practice yoga or meditate and create space for me “and the problem”.

I can hold my head up high and not sweat the small stuff and get too crappy and fight back. And on days that I lose my ground, lose my focus, that’s ok. I am in touch with my body and can shift my awareness and attention to what is going on inside and tend to that first.

I know I can bounce back and know I will get through.

And that is huge.

How about you?

What essential therapies or practices have you used to help bring relief to the stresses and strains and difficulties you face?

Share your experiences in the comment box below because your tips can help someone find hope and feel better.

And please share this article with your loved ones, or work colleague who you feel may benefit from practicing the short-guided breathing exercise.

Finally, thank you for taking your time to read this post, may you be happy and well and I wish you a clear head and strength on your journey.

Ntathu Allen


Bio: Ntathu Allen inspires and supports busy women to experience more pleasure and delight in their lives. She offers simple, self-care yoga exercises and meditation techniques you can do at home or at work to help boost your energy, release worry, fatigue, and anxiety so that you feel calm and relaxed and have the energy to spend more fun time with your family.

Ntathu offers free blog articles with weekly subscriptions via her website. Get FREE access to Ntathu’s video and download guide Get More Energy – 7 Simple Stretches to Boost Your Energy, here https://yogainspires.co.uk/subscribe/


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