Ceci Parrella

Every Breath You Take

What is the first thing many of us do when we are super nervous, over anxious or on an airplane that hits a patch of turbulence? We turn to the simplest calming device. We take a deep breath. But there could be more to breathing than inhaling and exhaling. Just ask Ceci Parrella, a resident of Hilton Head Island who knows how to take the act of breathing to new heights. The highly spirited, attractive, native Argentinean can reach places through breathing that can be scary, sad, joyous or just about anywhere on the spectrum of human emotions. And she also can guide others on how to peel away layers leading to one's soul simply through breathing.

Ceci is certified in Integral Breath Therapy, which has been described as "an experiential process that uses specific breathing techniques to clear out physical, mental, and emotional blocks or stresses." Ceci calls herself a "facilitator" of breathwork. She either goes to her clients' homes or they come to her. The only equipment needed is a yoga mat and an open mind.
"The whole idea of breathing is that there are different forms," said Benedicte Gadron, a client of Ceci's for about the last 18-months. "The kind I've done the most is lying down on a mat and closing my eyes and Ceci tells you how to breathe. It's breathing without interruption. 'Breathe in, breathe out.' It really helps to focus on that. It sounds easy, but it's not that easy to do that continuous breathing."

Ceci's gateway to breath therapy was through yoga. After seven years of taking classes about once a week, Ceci enrolled in a 200-hour program at the Savannah Yoga Center and became a certified yoga instructor.  "I did it for personal growth and self-knowledge. I was getting to know myself at a different level. The only person I can change is myself. If I want my world to be different, the change has to come within me," Ceci said.

For a short time, Ceci taught at the Jiva Yoga Center on Hilton Head Island, but it didn't fit into the schedule of the mother of two young children. Today, she fills in as an instructor at various yoga centers.  Although Ceci said she loves all forms of yoga, she moved away from power or Ashtanga yoga because "it was not fulfilling to me," she said. Instead, she's more drawn to the philosophies of Angela Farmer, whose classes are nothing like American yoga. For example, Angela rarely calls out the names of the poses, but instead, the British yoga teacher uses a more metaphoric process of feeling the poses, Ceci explained.

Ceci met Angela Farmer and her husband Victor Van Kooten, a massage therapist, at a workshop in Chapel Hill, N.C. In June 2010, she traveled to the town of Eftalou on the Greek island of Lesvos, where she attended Angela's 25-day yoga program. Greece is also where Ceci was first exposed to breathwork. She recounts a defining moment when she unlocked a bothersome sensation in her back through breathwork, after endless unsuccessful attempts through yoga poses. The experience brought her to tears, she said.

"When I had this ex'perience with breath. 'Oh my gosh, this is what I've been looking for,'" Ceci said. "The experience with the breath was so powerful. There was so much memory-in the tissues, muscles, bone-that I had no consciousness. And unless I could unlock those places, they were always going to be limiting my life."

Ceci continues to study Integral Breath Therapy, moving up in levels. She travels to Florida for classes and she's also planning on attending a six-day breathing retreat in Chicago. As for attracting the kind of person in the Lowcountry willing to explore the unknown through breath therapy. Just like breathwork, it's a process to get there. "When you come the first time, there's a resistant level of how much information you allow yourself to keep," Ceci said. "By the sixth session, you really start to get into the juicy part of your issues.having issues with health, prosperity or family relationships. It's a magnificent technique of self-empowerment."

Up Close:

Background: Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mother practiced homeopathic medicine, macrobiotic diet and an Ayurvedic lifestyle.
Family: Husband Keith Parrella, Hilton Head real estate lawyer. The couple have two sons, ages 11 and 8.
What brought Ceci to HHI?: She met Keith through mutual friends when vacationing here in 1995. After a two-year, long-distance relationship Ceci and Keith married.
Difference between South America and South Carolina beaches: In South America the water is cold, the waves are big, and the sand is yellow.
Favorite beach-reading book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
For more info: www.Floweringbreath.com