Posts filed under ‘breathing’

Transformational Breathing – Part 1

In 2009 I started doing some Transformational Breathing, This is a technique originated by Judith Kravitz of the USA, who has been leading workshops in this technique for the past 30 years.

I started with a CD made by Judith called “100 Breaths to Joy” that I followed by practising at home, and then I read Judith’s book, “Breathe Deep, Laugh Loudly”. I did have some success doing this on my own, but I was able to make more progress after attending two workshops in London run by facilitator Alan Dolan.

Why was I doing this form of breathing? I have a long term project to do a kit (book, cd, dvd, workbook) on health, well-being and longevity. For the kit, I wanted to include a series of yoga positions that people could do in order to discover (if they didn’t already know) where they were in pain, or stiff, or had some kind of physical blockage. I asked my ex, a yoga therapist, if she could devise this set of asanas (postures) but she thought that this was a secondary phase, and that more primary for the kit’s readers should be a self analysis of their breath, and learning how to breathe better.

I thought this sounded right and I realised that I had not really done much breath work on my own. So I decided to start looking at my own breath and this led me to pick up Judith Kravitz’s CD and begin. In the past, I had a feeling (confirmed by a shiatsu practitioner) that my diaphragm was holding in some places along my rib cage and spine, and this holding was obstructing my full breathing capacity. I worked on this area for years with shiatsu and self-massage, and felt that I had loosened the areas of holding, but never completely.

I also knew that my solar plexus was the place where I had held some old emotional traumas from the past. Whenever I had a shock of any kind, like the death of my father, or being let down or betrayed by someone or any other strong emotional shock, it always seemed to hit me in the ‘pit’ of the stomach, and I think that I had an accumulation of emotional hits in that area. The solar plexus and diaphragm must be closely connected since they inhabit the same area of the front of the body.

Transformational Breathing, unlike yogic pranayama or Taoist belly breathing and reverse breathing, is a technique for breathing through the mouth rather than the nose, and keeping the in-breaths and out-breaths in continuous flow. I won’t try to describe the technique since it is best explained by a teacher. Suffice to say that when I tried the technique via the CD I did have a strong response at my solar plexus which allowed me to release some very old emotional baggage that I had been holding there. This related to some issues of loss, betrayal and self-doubt that I had been carrying from childhood on, and the deep belly breathing managed to shake up the solar plexus where these emotions had become lodged. I was able to deal with the old emotions and thoughts and this helped to release some of them from my body.

A few weeks later I had a chance to do a couple of group workshops with Alan Dolan, an experienced Transformational Breathing facilitator, and he taught me how best to use the technique. After the two sessions with him I felt my solar plexus vibrating, and I felt sure that more clearing was taking place. I also felt that my diaphragm had now finally ‘let go’ and there was no longer a holding at the rib cage. I felt that my breathing was now very deep and very easy.

I am now continuing to use the technique and I have started to do some further research into other breathing methods and techniques so that I can use this knowledge to inform the section on Breathing that I intend to have in the longevity kit.

Alan Dolan can be contacted at info@breath-works.com
http://www.breath-works.com

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August 3, 2009 at 3:55 pm 2 comments

The importance of belly breathing – Part 1.

Post the Second. –

There is an emphasis in the guided meditation to getting the breath down as deep as possible into the belly. This is because one third of all people breathe only into their chest and consequently their breathing is shallow, and the amount of oxygen taken into the body is reduced. It also means that when we are under stress, and the breath is affected, even held, it becomes even shorter and shallower, which can easily lead to hyperventilation.

The body can utilise much more oxygen than most people inhale, and more oxygen is better for the body’s functioning, since the oxygen molecules make their way into every cell of the body. There they are integral to the creation of energy.

Even I , who was an athlete when young, and have been doing meditation and yoga for 20 years, found that my breath was restricted at the diaphragm once I started doing some concentrated belly breathing. Since the diaphragm is the second most important muscle in the body after the heart, it’s wise to try to make it as healthy and free-flowing as possible.

I am currently researching a book on health, well-being and longevity and one of the objects of the book is to be very practical, by giving exercises on DVD that people can follow. I wanted to have a series of yoga asanas that readers could do in order to discover where their body was stiff or in pain so that the work could be targeted at those places. I asked my wife, a yoga teacher, to help me devise these exercises, but she said that it’s better to start with breathing, since that is primary, and the asanas an be looked at later.

This led me to consider my own practise. Although I have been doing yoga, tai chi and meditation for many years I have never actually concentrated on belly breathing and testing my own breath patterns. I knew that I breathed into the belly, but I was also aware that for many years I felt a restriction or obstruction around the middle of my body just where the diaphragm is. I had worked on trying to loosen this tension, but had I actually eliminated it?

My wife had started learning Transformational Breathing, a training co-devised by Judith Kravitz in the US. She had Judith’s book Breathe Deep Laugh Loudly  and an audio CD, so I decided to read the book and do the exercises, without a teacher (having a teacher would have been preferable). Transformational Breathing exercises ask you to breath into the belly through the mouth and not the nose, and I found that after a short time doing the exercise my head felt light-headed. According to the book, this may have been due to the balance in my body between oxygen and nitrogen. When you breathe through the mouth and try to fill the belly with breath, you are deliberately taking into the body a great deal more oxygen than you normally would. This changes the balance between the nitrogen and oxygen in the body and could be the reason for my light-headedness.

I also realised that although the exercise called for 100 continuous breaths like this on a daily basis, that I got too light-headed to do that many. Clearly more work was needed on my belly breating.

To be continued

April 15, 2009 at 10:22 am 2 comments

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