Creating Safe Space In Your Body: Meet Breathwork Teacher Ashley Neese
You can count on Ashley Neese to be right alongside you in the trenches and doing the work of self-growth.
With a newly published and immediate best selling book out earlier this year, she doesn’t purport to have it all figured out. Her candor is what makes her both motivating and inspiring: she’s come a long way, and yet she isn’t a finished product. She approaches self-growth with vigilance, dedication, and honesty so she can be more fully in relationship with her partner, baby boy, herself, clients, and the world.
Ashley teaches Breathwork. There are so many reasons Breathwork is a powerful modality, but it’s beauty is in it’s universality: as humans, we are all here — breathing — for the entirety of our lives. It’s accessible to all people, at all stages, from all backgrounds, races, classes, and belief systems. It is a practice that puts the individual in control of their journey toward healing, growth, and transformation.
In talking to Ashely it’s clear her endless inquisitiveness is what brought her to this profoundly simple and transformative work. She isn’t one for topical fixes but wants to get to the root. Breathwork is just that — if you are breathing well, you have a strong foundation and everything else is the icing on the cake. If you aren’t, your efforts are built on shaky ground.
What would Ashley like everyone to know upon crossing her path? That we all deserve to feel safe in our bodies, plain and simple. What does safe feel like? The ability to be and stay fully, wholly present, no matter what is happening around you. And with that, please meet Ashley Neese...
meet ashley neese
7 with a 4x5 wing
Ideal lunch as a 5-year-old:
Sloppy Joe's with corn on the cob and a glass of whole milk
Ideal lunch today:
Steamed leafy greens, roasted yams, fermented burdock root, avocado, gomasio, sprouted wild rice, roasted chicken thigh or soft cooked eggs
A book that has meaning to you:
Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication by Oren Sofer. Getting clear on my unconscious communication patterns has been an essential component of learning how to re-parent myself, become a clearer channel for communication and has helped me tremendously in setting and keeping boundaries. I’ve struggled with communicating face-to-face with family members, friends, and partners. While I have done so much work in this area of my life, since becoming a parent I’ve had to step up and assert myself even more in my communication style and take a deep look at where I’m still afraid, where I’m projecting and where I am holding judgment. Practicing the tools in this book has given me so many opportunities to forge new pathways not only in my brain but in my relationships as well.
What brings you joy + pleasure?
I love hearing Solomon laugh, it brings me a kind of joy I’ve never known before. He laughs with his full body and doesn’t hold back at all. He laughs with a wild abandon that lights up a room and it is so very special to witness his joy. These days what brings me pleasure is really simple. Cuddling with Nic in the evening. Taking an extra long shower. Getting a massage. Enjoying a fully ripe avocado.
ashley on wellness
How does your background influence your present outlook?
I went to Montessori school where each child was valued for their individuality and unique capabilities. That foundation impacted my present outlook significantly. I’m inherently creative, always looking for creative solutions, and that was fostered in me as a child. Today it allows me to approach my work with optimism — challenges are an invitation to think creatively, and I am able to hold space and help my clients see and elevate the places where they are healthy and create connection between those elements.
Also, my childhood school was so diverse which opened my eyes to seeing and embracing people from all types of religions, classes, races, and it taught me to respect myself and all other individuals. We couldn’t ostracize differences, but rather learned to embrace and connect with them.
What comes to mind when you think of inclusivity within wellness?
Wellness can feel arduous and far away, something we have to go and do and spend money on. I believe the focus of wellness needs to be about how people can integrate tools right now and as part of everyday life. You can drop in and breath anywhere, at any time. A long exhale is self-care, and it doesn’t cost anyone a thing.
Wellness means being in a state of good health, it's actually really simple. Anything you do to move towards living in a state of good health is wellness. I believe we have inside of us what we need to live in a state of wellness, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive or inaccessible.
I think a topic that isn’t discussed enough in wellness is class, and the significant divide it creates. With wellness leaning towards being expensive, it’s inherently exclusionary. My work enables each individual self-healing, it gives them the tools to help themselves. You can teach this stuff to yourself. And I offer my work in many different ways so that it can meet people where they are. Through my book, digital classes, workshops, and individual work, and if someone comes to me needing support and willing to put the effort forth in meeting me and doing the work I’ll find ways to meet them as well. Energetic exchange is really important — it goes back to my roots in creativity and finding different ways to do things.
self-care as an entrepreneur and teacher
How do you practice Self Respect?
A teaching of Al-Anon is that we teach people how to treat us. Are you holding on to the reality of a person or situation, or it’s potential? Part of my practice of self-respect is learning that everyone can’t read my mind and that everyone is different. I say my needs clearly, kindly, act with integrity and hold myself accountable. The last part is important as if I’m not in accountability I’m letting myself down as much or more than anyone else.
I’ve also had to get really clear on how much energy I have, and not overextending or over-committing myself. What do I have time for and what do I even WANT to do? Getting clear on my motives, because if I’m just doing something so that another person will like me then I might not even like myself while doing it.
Growing into awareness of my worth has been a part of my practice towards self-respect. I had to go through a lot of work to really learn what I was worth.
Where in your life can you do more? Less?
Right now I am stretched to my capacity with being a new parent, having a book out in the world, and showing up for myself and my partner. In terms of doing more, I could be reaching out to friends on a more consistent basis. Even if it’s just one call or voice note a month, I have a feeling it would help me feel more connected and in community. I’m in the process of cutting back at work so that I can take two months off this summer to rest and hang out with my family. I’m really looking forward to spending time in the woods, playing with Solomon in his new yellow baby pool and simply having the space to be fully present.
Where are you growing right now, or looking for a guide/teacher?
The growth I’m experiencing in my partnership with my husband Nic is the deepest and most subtle work I've ever done. We are in the thick of it — we have a beautiful life, baby boy, and now together we are diving deeper and deeper into this unmapped journey of growth together. We are both re-programming and re-patterning our paths, having a child has brought hyper-awareness to the subtle ways and places where there is still healing and growth. It’s a catapult to the next level. I didn’t see this coming because I have done so much self-work over the years, but having a child has illuminated so much that I hadn’t seen. There are places where I might not have had the opportunity to continue to grow if it weren’t for my son.
It's amazing to show up and support him in a way that I wasn't supported as a child, and neither was my partner. Nic and I don’t have any map for it, it’s so different from what we experienced and it draws again on my ability to be creative and find my way in the dark.
What would you like each person who crosses your path to leave knowing?
We all deserve to feel safe in our bodies. Simple, full stop. Everyone.
Everything we do, can’t stop doing, crave, etc — it’s all in an effort to feel safe. Everyone is doing the same thing, even if it’s coming through differently. How can we regulate ourselves safely and effectively and in alignment? I want my clients to skip all the topical and get right into the deep work - and that is what brought me to breathwork.
To feel safe in your body feels like the ability to stay wholly present, and fully inhabit your body, no matter what is happening externally. Not checking out, freezing, fighting, etc. It feels like being able to stay in the present moment.