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Episode #102 Benefits of Breathwork For Your Business with Iona Holloway

Iona Holloway helps women unwind fears and clear blindspots through deep soul digs, belief inventories, and breathwork so they can see their brilliance clearly, hold their own gold, and shift from precious to prolific in their life, work, and relationships. This week on the podcast she is diving in deep with us to share about the practice of breathwork—both what it is and what it is not. 

Breathwork can help us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, and help us with active, creative, and intentional healing and soul reclaiming. Breathwork as a practice can help us become more in tune with who we are, and help us get clarity on how to manifest our desires.

Nicole and Iona discuss:

  • Why breathwork is so much more than just deep breathing exercises
  • What breathwork allows us to access in our deeper consciousness
  • What you might experience when you start to practice breathwork
  • How the practice of breathwork has changed Iona’s life and business
  • Why Iona believes the practice of breathwork is crucial for every business owner


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Nicole Laino 

Hello and welcome to the limitless entrepreneur podcast. I am your host, Nicole Laino. And I am here with a guest today. It’s been a long time since we had a guest on the show and I’m excited to have one now. I am here with Iona Holloway. Iona is a creative inner work coach. Number one best selling author, a former all American athlete, and the voice behind soul breathwork, which is a beautiful breathwork app. She helps high performers clear blind spot binds blind spots scuze me and shift from precious to prolific in their life, work and relationships. I’m sorry, I tripped over your bio there, Iona, but welcome to the show.

Iona Holloway 

Doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be a mouthful. I’m really happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Nicole Laino 

Thank you for being on the show. Because this is a this is a topic, kind of your expertise, I think meshes really well with mine. And this was a topic breathwork was something that I wanted to talk about it from because there’s so many applications for it. And so we’re going to, I’m excited because the conversation we were having before the show is it’s not just about the technique. It’s not just about the tool. It’s all the ways that you can apply it and all the ways that you can you can use it for your peak performance for your to get the most out of who you are. So what introduce yourself to the audience. What did I miss in that bio? Tell tell everybody hi.

Iona Holloway 

Yeah, sure. You miss nothing. My name’s Iona. It’s lovely to meet everyone. And, yeah, I’ve been a breathwork teacher and coach. And it’s been a tool that I’ve used as part of my business with my clients. But also, as a real creative power tool in my own life and work. I’ve used breathwork for, for creativity, for working through blocks, specifically when I was writing my book during lockdown. And then also I use it a huge amount, day to day in regulating myself checking in with myself, and also tapping into my own creative self, as I’m building and scaling my business. So that says it sounds a wee bit meta, or Yeah, meta sort of self reference, sort of inception, like that, I’m kind of using breath work to build and share and, and teach about my breath workout. So but it’s true, like I use the tools that I teach. And so I’m excited to talk about how wildly practical breathwork can be, and also how soulful and creative and spiritual it can be. And it’s really just a powerful tool for connecting with ourselves. And so these are all things I use myself and love to chat about.

Nicole Laino 

It’s beautiful. And there’s so many places that I want to go, I want to just share my own experience when the first time I did breath work. So anybody who’s listening, and you’re like, Oh, I’ve done breathwork before, maybe yes, maybe no, it was a no for me, I thought that like pranayama in yoga or something was breath work. And that’s not really what we’re talking about here where this is a much deeper, longer practice. It’s not just breathing while you meditate. And concentrating on your breath. This is a much more somatic experience. And my so my first time I remember my I had a coach that was a breathwork facilitator and she was like, I’m gonna do this breathwork thing. And I was like, sure I was empathic before whatever and I did it I was like, Oh, I have done nothing like this before. And I had a release. And this was the first moment breathwork taught me that how much was trapped in my body. All the mindset work all the like energetic work that I was having. So such a hard time truly embodying came once I got my body involved. And breathwork was the catalyst for that she took us on this, like 30 minute breathwork journey. And I wept like I have never wept before. And, and like in the most cathartic beautiful way it was it was incredible. And I’ve done it ever since. So you mentioned that you used it when you when you were writing your book over, you know, during lockdown, how do you use breathwork for something like writing a book? Sure. I’m jumping right

Iona Holloway 

in. That’s great. And so I just I love what you were saying there about how like the Cymatics and getting the body on board and how mindset alone doesn’t really let us crack into like the deeper buried elements of ourselves. And it makes sense when you think about it. Because the mind is intellectual. It’s also fear based. It’s not necessarily the creative seat of things. And also we’re only able to think about what we’re consciously aware of, but so much richness, intuition and creativity sits below conscious thought, and breath allows you to quiet the mind long enough to drop into the body. And that’s also by the what you reference going for a breathwork journey. You’re shutting off the conscious mind, you’re dropping into what sits beneath. And that’s what I talk about a lot with blind spots are just the unknown, like the unknown that is sitting in the scrapbook of your body, that through the breath, you can raise it into conscious awareness and experience it. So that’s what I love about teaching breathwork. But then within the context of creativity or writing a book, it was kind of wild to use breathwork as a way of accessing and connecting to stories and memories that I didn’t actually consciously remember about before, like, when I was thinking about planning the book, or writing the stories that were included in it. It was interesting, because I got through my first draft, and I read through it, and I was like, wow, there’s loads of great stuff here. But there’s no stories. There’s no like real stories that explain why I was feeling this way, or why I responded in this way, or what created these feelings or thoughts that I had about myself. And so I had to go on a deck, like I had to go find this because I knew they were there, they just weren’t conscious, they weren’t just sitting in my brain ready readily available. And so I would do some breath work around inner child stuff, I would take myself back to places that had that I knew that there’s there were stories there or something there. And there would often be through breathing that it would just drop in. And I would remember. And that’s that’s one way that I that I use it for for writing goals. They also use a whole load of a different type of breath work, which is more like pure nervous system, regulation breath work when the book was coming out. And I was like, which is normal to because being seen as a whole is a whole thing. But that’s the other cool thing about breathwork you can use it for creativity. And then also for the day to day practicalities of shifting and regulating yourself when you’re feeling either blocked, sluggish, anxious, sad, overwhelmed. There’s for every, for every experience or corresponding emotion, there is a breath that you can use to support it.

Nicole Laino 

It’s it’s pretty, it’s pretty incredible. Like I’ve I still to this day, I mean, I do it every day, at least I do like a little bit of something even even three minutes. And I feel grounded. And like you said there’s a breath for everything. There’s activating breaths, there are really calming breaths, grounding breaths. But what is it that that you find? So you mentioned like, you know, you taking yourself back? Is this something that anybody can do? Or is this something that requires a facilitator with you either in person or virtually? How does that work? And is it safe?

Iona Holloway 

Yeah, great question. So for a longer journey, I highly recommend them being a supported experience. So a supported experience could be working with someone one on one, or it could be through a guided a guided session, like we have on all my breath recap. So I think that’s really about how your intention around it and what it what it is, like, if you have a sense of I’m going to feel like there might be something there that I’m going to need real support around, then I would really encourage you to find a breathwork facilitator that you like, and trust and resonate with because also, there’s lots of different types of breathwork people, there’s people who are very, very woowoo and spiritual and soft and gentle. There’s people that are a bit more I was gonna say hyper masculine, you know what I mean? Like that kind of like really intent and then I feel like I sit somewhere in the middle like I’m, I’m a very soulful person. And I’m also wildly practical and that’s why a lot that’s why my clients who do find me like me, because I’ve got like my feet on the ground, but also my soul somewhere else. So I think it really depends about your comfort level with trying things are feeling supported and resource and if you are a wee bit on the fence, then I would recommend starting just simply with more like state change Breathworks this, like you mentioned, like the three to 10 minute experiences where you can just feel what it’s like to say what does it even mean? into consciously use my breath? What does it mean to hold it? What does it mean to do a different rhythm of it? So many of us are so head on a stick disconnected from our bodies that even breathing consciously is a wild experience. It’s a wild experience for us. So if if you’re feeling in any way Heston about it, I would start with the short, short things and build from there.

Nicole Laino 

Yeah, and you know, and recognizing that, that it’s two very different experiences, the state change is the thing of saying like, and because I use this daily, in this method as well, which is like, Okay, I’m in this place, I feel stuck. I feel like things aren’t for me. It’s like, I don’t feel like the energy is moving. I feel like I’m stuck in my head. I need to get into my body. And I can do visualizations and stuff. But nothing really brings me like in the body. Like breathwork Yep. And so it’s a drop in for that. But then the longer journeys are for that deeper work, like I talked about how I’ve wept like a baby, like wailing on the floor. But I, I did that that experience, it’s a much deeper and it’s, it’s not terribly comfortable. Like, it’s a long time and you don’t realize to breathe intentionally for a long period of time. Takes concentrate, it takes devotion. Yeah. And, and going through that. So I agree that’s having someone there. That’s, that’s telling you like, Yes, keep going. Yeah, you’re safe. Yep. Go into that space, because you will want to bail at some point, most likely, and you’re going to need something to kind of ground you to, but there’s this, this. There’s an arc, there is a there’s an end to this, that I’m in the middle of the journey. I’m not at the end of it. Yeah,

Iona Holloway 

yeah. I had, I was doing a private session with a guy yesterday who is x like, Secret Service, like he’s, he was in the military. And so he was he had experience with breathwork. And he actually used it paired with visualization, he was telling me that he used to do it before he would go in and jump out of airplanes. Because he would use breathwork and visualization to solve some of the problems that he knew he would ultimately at some point experience before. So then when he actually had to go through the process, he was, he felt he could feel how powerful that was to have used breathwork one to regulate his system, but also to kind of visualize and travel, like future life, like travel in time, be able to experience it before and then be more present in the moment. And other like group of people that I work with our high performance athletes, it’s the same thing, like visualizing success. And we can all do this as entrepreneurs, creatives, visualizing things that we want, or what visualizing things that we desire. People will probably call it manifestation. Or think maybe that’s Whoo. But we manifest everything in our life, through our thoughts and what we see. But anyway, to go back to what I was saying about this guy, the session that we did was a longer journey. And it was, like you said, it was everything that you just said, there, it required effort on his part, a devotion to the experience, and also a feeling of being supported. Because it was a very active session. Like I could see him actively moving through things in almost like three stages. And when he came out, he was like, wow, that was like that one time I did psychedelics. And then, and then he was like, that was really rowdy, which I thought was such a great, like a great description. I’ve never heard that before someone say that, that was really rowdy. And it can be that way. And also, they can be very soft and gentle. as well. You never really quite know what you’re going to experience. Because, again, it’s so much about what’s sitting in the body that we don’t quite have clear line of sight on with our conscious mind. So it can be a real adventure, you never really know what you’re gonna get.

Nicole Laino 

Well, and I think like that with meditation, I’ve been meditating for 12 years or something like that now, but that I remember, the first thing my teacher taught me was when I learned to meditate was We don’t judge the meditation. We never judge it. Because yesterday’s meditation, whether you think it was great, or it was terrible, you know? And so with breath work, I have the same thing where that one was so impactful, that first one that I did, and then I started to think about what the next one should be like, it should be like that. I should have a release like that and, and you trap yourself with that. It’s it is I treat it like a like in Harry Potter. They had the Room of Requirement. Like whenever they opened the door, it was like whatever their heart desired and needed in that moment, the room would fulfill that need. That’s what I believe these practices are for they’re there to give meditation is there to allow your mind to do whatever it needs to do at that moment. And we can direct it with our intention. Yes, but the breath work is like it’s whatever the body needs. At that moment, it might need to clear something at the time that that first time I did it, I had a lot. That was my first time where I ever really involved my body fully. Yeah, and it was like, we’re taking this opportunity that you’ve given us and we’re going to release all of this stuff. And then other times it has just been, you know, it’s been this soulful, exploratory, sometimes just relaxing, sometimes really moving, sometimes clearing, it’s, it’s whatever is necessary at that moment for you. But, you know, you’re, you’re a peak athlete, you’ve performed at high levels, you work with those people. When someone comes to you, are they coming to you? Because they’re stuck? Are they coming to you? Because they’re curious about breathwork? Or they’re like, how does that journey start for many of the people who work with you and who is technically right for?

Iona Holloway 

Oh, yeah. Yeah, so I’ve worked with, I’ve worked with athletes I’ve worked with, and I’ve called high performers. But I would say like the vast majority of my clients are, like, it’s a it’s basically everyday woman, everyday woman with sort of varying levels of dreams and desires. And generally speaking, again, because of my background in sports, and the kind of people that I attract, I tend to attract women who are a little bit too strong for their own good. And what I mean by a little bit too strong for their own good, I mean, often disconnected from their body, and emotions in the way that they don’t feel like that is something that adds to how they’re perceived. So emotions can be us, like a softening thing, or this doesn’t really melt. And this was me, like being an emotional person or having emotions, I had no time for that. I was too busy, I was too busy getting stuff done, or trying to execute things or, you know, trying to lose weight to be happy like these, these were the ways that I was spending my time. And so in my own inner work journey, and now what I really help the vast majority of my clients with is connecting to themselves in a soulful way, bringing the body along, not as something that we are trying to manage or control or manipulate, but as understanding the body as a brain, in and of itself, and that also through access to the brain, sorry, through access to the body and the mind, that is how we truly get access to our soul. Like the deeper, unseen, inexplicable parts that make up who we are. And so for a lot of the work that I do with clients, it’s about guiding us home to who have always been. It’s a lot of remembering of who we are, at our core independent of what anyone has told us, what society has placed upon us, what we think that we should be doing to get or feel X, Y, and Zed. It’s a real homecoming, in many ways. So is that appropriate for anyone? I think so. I think that a lot of our I think a lot of the issues that our world faces would be I mean, I’m always saying like, don’t worry about what’s going on out there. Be with yourself. Figure out yourself, understand yourself deeply. That’s how you are generous and more available for everyone around you, for making the world reflect more of what you desire. That’s all you have control over is is yourself. And of course, just like we’ve been saying, breath, work and inner work can be channeled in different ways. It can be channeled for a soulful, deep connection or thawing of yourself. It can be channeled for high performance environments or situations where you need to be at peak clarity or you need to think innovatively or if you’re a business owner, and you’re trying to think creatively about how you want to offer something or run your business and not just do it based on what you think you should do. It requires a connection to yourself. And breath work has always been there as that thing that gives you access to this and also sometimes it can take three minutes. Right you kind of didn’t even realize it was a problem. It’s not

Nicole Laino 

now and you you know you said something where you were talking about, you know, you typically work with the women who are I forget how you phrased it, but I know you kind of say like, you know, like their own good, too. Yeah. And I, I mean, that was me six years ago or whatever, or maybe even longer now, but it’s been a long journey. But I and that’s who I work with as well, which I will say like, I’m a type a hippie, and that’s kind of like what I work with other people who identify as type A, but have realized that that’s not serving them anymore. Doing more, the key to doing more is being more the like that. And that’s often the shift. And it’s the toughest shift to make with those people too, because and I’m talking about this, because I know she’s listening right now. She’s listening to this right now. And, and if you fall into that category of trying to think your way out of problems, and you’ve hit the wall, and you’re wondering how, like, I can’t see the next steps and I don’t know what they are. And they’re beyond what I feel I can I understand fully how to do. And you get stuck in the how very, very easy to get stuck in that space space of being confused about what the right way forward is? And the answer is that it’s it’s this deep level of trust that you have in yourself, and you get that from opening up in all the ways like this is normally if you tried every strategy if you’ve if you’ve bought like every program or course and you’ve been trying to to strategically build your way out of the stuckness and you fall into that type a category or that that that you know too strong for your own good category. Then I can almost guarantee you that doing some bodywork somatic work energetic work. Yeah, goes beyond the mind will shift you faster than anything else. Like you want to know how to Quantum Leap. Look at the thing that you haven’t done yet. Oh, yeah. Yes. Look at the Okay, embodiment is the key. What haven’t I done to embody? Well, I haven’t really gotten into my body. And that will most likely be the thing that you’ll you’ll do it and you’ll go. How did I not do this sooner? Because it’s scary. It’s it’s, it’s, there’s something in your subconscious telling you don’t go too deep. Yeah. Yeah, it’s that’s, that’s more of you. It’s expansive, and expanding, is unknown and scary to our brain.

Iona Holloway 

Yeah, I love the way you put that, Nicole because I think that I’m a, I’m a big believer that the depths to which you’re willing to go within yourself is to that depth that you can meet other people. And whether that is just in your life, or if it’s in your business, the things that you’re avoiding about yourselves are the things where you can be life changing for someone else. If you’re willing to go like people, this is a feedback I get consistently about my book ghosts, because at no point in, it’s called ghosts by Catholic women shrink. And in this book, I talk a lot about both my sort of embodied war, like I was the queen of shrinking for various reasons. But I was also called, I wasn’t friendly. I was shut off from people I hated other woman. I didn’t, they were all competition. As far as I was concerned, I hated seeing other people succeed. All of this was my everyday life. And until I was able to get with and understand the reasons why, because all of that was just a projection of my internal reality. We can’t like other people, we can’t be happy for them. We don’t want to connect with them. All I’m seeing in that place is I don’t want to be known. I don’t want to be seen. I am not who I wish I was neither. Neither. Like I it’s, it’s intolerable that you are. Like, if we can get with the shadowy parts of ourselves, and really journey with them, like really bring them in. What a gift to give one yourself, because you’ll be more yourself to the integration of the shadowy stuff, but also, what a gift then to be able to share with people if your business is in any way related to your own journey, your own beliefs, your own experiences. What a gift you’re now giving people to be able to meet yourself on that level. And that’s an and also if you don’t have a business, or a gift to be able to meet other people in their own humanity, if you learned how to hold yourself and that’s what I mean about whatever we can do, to get with ourselves is the most generous thing that we can give to other people. Don’t be out there trying to fix them, solve them. Wrap the world in cotton wool. See that everyone’s a problem cancel people, like take responsibility for your own self, understand where it lives within you, hold it, look at it, be with it. Like, it’s the most valuable work that you can ever do.

Nicole Laino 

Yeah, I, I love that you brought that up the way that you phrase that the way that you put that it’s, it made me think about because we talk about manifesting on the show a lot like both in the you know, if you believe in magic, or if you just believe in being able to get yourself to do the thing that’s needed to make what you want happen. However you want to look at it, whatever stage you’re at, we’ll meet you there. But But this, it all does have to do with love. And one of the things that I notice are, you know, love gratitude, being able to expand beyond the moment that you’re in and really, really feel it. And that’s the part that the body work. I don’t think if you’re in the world, you understand it. But if you’re if you haven’t gone through this work, I’ll come at it another way of whether this is right for you or not. Can you truly celebrate? Can you really feel joy? Can you really feel connected to people? Can you really like you were saying be happy for people? Can you see other people as as collaboration partners, instead of competition? Can you truly be happy for someone else, that’s the sign of an open heart. And that comes from going through your stuff. And I use EFT to release a lot of emotions like with with my people. But breathwork is a beautiful practice that you can do. Like that’s completely bypasses the mind. It’s just all the body. And you’ll you’ll notice it’s the walls come down. And if you have walls up, not only nobody can get in, but you can’t get out either. Right? Right. There’s this big filter, there’s this big block like that’s the block is your ability to go beyond like your selfish needs. And your feelings of fear and protectionism.

Iona Holloway 

Yeah, absolutely. It’s going beyond the construction of self like going beyond the identities that you’ve created, who you think you are, like all the things that are stored and you could call it ego, you could call it wounded inner child, you could call it trauma, you call it whatever, all the things that are built up around us. It’s like, This is who I am, this is who I have to be I am I am this I am that it’s going beneath that. It’s like before I was any of these things, I was a soul. Before I before I had an identity to defend and get irate about. I was I was just the soul. And something that you said there which saw reminiscent of my own experience of can you feel emotions? And I don’t mean, because people are like, oh, yeah, I, I feel negative all the time, or I feel,

Nicole Laino 

I cry at movies.

Iona Holloway 

But that’s not what we’re talking about. I’m talking about the full spectrum of feeling and feeling that deeply or gently or if you think about it, like a painter’s palette, we’re not just sad, angry or Okay. Which I think I mean, for me, that was that was the language that I had around body or emotion. I mean, they’re sad, or nothing. Like there’s a whole spectrum of experience. But it’s not something that you really have access to, or understand until you move through it and hold different versions of it. And it’s that shifting from such like black and white, thought based living to something much deeper. And it’s so much more, so much more rich. And I don’t know, having lived my whole life as a robot until the last four or five years. It’s a very relieving thing to be to be a human.

Nicole Laino 

You’re giving your mind a break. When we release the mind from feeling like it needs to figure everything out. Miracles can happen. And they happen quickly. But the brain will slow you down. So if you’re only focusing on the brain, and this is your this is your cue to go over and download Ionas app, which is called Soul breathwork. Because we can’t make it easier for you than to have you download an app on the App Store on your phone. And literally you could start doing breath work five minutes from now. So this is your cue to kind of take the step into like or just any kind of bar work like how can I how can I deepen my connection to my body? How can I get out of my mind and out of my head more. But I want to thank you. I’m really I’m grateful for this conversation. I’m grateful for you bringing your expertise and just your really unique and beautiful perspective on this. Thank you for sharing it with us and for being here. I appreciate you. Yeah, I

Iona Holloway 

love this conversation. Thanks, Nicole.

Nicole Laino 

Thank you. Where can everybody stay in touch with you? I already told I told them about the app, of course, but like, tell them more about you and where they can they can get more of you.

Iona Holloway 

Yeah, sure. So you can find me on Instagram. I’m I want to Holloway on there. And then if you kind of like the way that I talk about, you know, work business creativity, I have a secret podcast called Goldmine, where I release an episode every week. And it’s very sort of unstructured, unfiltered riffs on playing sports in our work business creativity. So you can find that on my website, which is breathe thing.co forward slash goldmine. And that will give you access to my little secret, my secret podcast. So there’s a fun place to start. That’s awesome.

Nicole Laino 

And we will link all of that up in the show notes for you. So you don’t worry about it. If you didn’t, weren’t able to write that down. We got you covered. But I want to thank you for being here. And thank you for making it all the way to the end of this conversation with us and for being here and being part of this conversation. We appreciate you. So remember that you are limited only by the limitations that you accept. And when you stop accepting those limitations. That is when you become limitless. So go out there and be limitless everyone. I’ll see you next time.

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