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Breathing and Relaxing into Stress and Tension Points of the Body

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At our sessions and seminars recently, we have been focusing on the second ingredient in the Formula for Transformation and one of the cornerstones of breathwork, which is relaxation.

We have been diving deeper into our natural ability to trigger a deep sense of safety and security in the body… This is very important during a breathing session because if your body doesn’t feel safe it will not let you fly!

Just about everyone carries some tension somewhere in the body. And when our hearts and minds long to soar, any tensions in the body can act like chains and heavy weights that keep us stuck and unable to feel light and free.

Where in your body do you tend to hold tension? Why not explore those places right now?

Give yourself a big sigh of relief with the intention of letting go and relaxing. And begin to systematically explore various areas of your body where the residue of any shocks or traumas, injuries or illnesses remain as subtle bands of tension.

Start with the muscles around your eyes, forehead, temples, face, mouth, jaw, tongue, neck, and the base of your skull. Bring detailed awareness to each of these places while you consciously breathe soothing energy and relaxation into them with each breath.

Next, bring detailed awareness—focused attention—to your heart space. Breathe and relax into your shoulders, chest, ribs and back. Use your breath and your conscious intention to infuse these places with self-care and soft light.

Next, explore your stomach, abdomen, solar plexus, and diaphragm. Breathe and relax into your waist and pelvis, your tailbone, genitals, hips, thighs, and legs. Play with your breath as you bring loving awareness and deliberate relaxation to these places.

Now take your time and explore all these places again. Use a gentle connected breathing rhythm and give yourself nice sighs of relief as you connect to each muscle and joint and organ. Identify those places where you feel or imagine have a history of illness, injury, trauma, or stress.

Be patient with yourself and with your mind-body system. Be curious and enjoy the process. Nothing serious! Wiggle and squirm and gently stretch and open and loosen the various places as you relax and breathe into them.

In the same way that you can wash and massage your body, use this practice to clean and balance and nourish your body from the inside out. Deliberately generate gratitude and appreciation, and celebrate the fact that you are alive, that you can think and feel and move and breathe! And be confident that this practice will awaken your natural healing and restorative powers!

Good luck in your practice and many blessings on your path!

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Two Classic Yogic Breathing Practices

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I recently got a question from one of our O2 Fundamental students about the difference between these two ancient Pranayama techniques:

Bhastrika, also called “Bellows Breathing” and “Breath of Fire,”
Kapalbhati, also called “Skull Shining Breath.”

First, let’s notice whatever names they were given, they are perfect examples of Conscious Breathing Exercises, aka Breathwork Techniques or Breathwork practices.

They can be practiced alone or combined in tandem. They both help strengthen the lungs, and both have contra-indications or precautions when it comes to menstruation, pregnancy, hernia, high blood pressure, heart conditions, and epilepsy. (Be gentle!)

With Bhastrika or bellows breathing, both the inhales and the exhales are active or controlled. The breathing can be described as powerful, rapid, equalized. Breathe through your nose.

The practice is meant to be energizing, activating, stimulating, enlivening. The focus or orientation is on chest breathing. The mind should be relaxed, quiet and focused.

This exercise can be done sitting or standing, and very often the arms are used. Reach straight up over your head with open hands as if ‘grabbing’ energy with the inhale. Then close your fists and pull your arms back down sharply with the exhale, bringing your elbows to the sides of your lower chest.

There are variations on this practice. Most often the palms are facing away from you, but it can also be done with palms facing toward you. And it can also be done with hands resting on your legs, palms up, with index finger and thumbs touching (“Gyan mudra”).

It’s good to start slow and do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Between sets, breathe naturally and practice breath meditation and relaxation. Get comfortable with a pace of 1 breath per second, and work up to 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 reps.

The final set can be followed by a long silent pause before returning to natural breathing.

The breathing is powerful, but the nervous system remains calm and balanced. A good intention to form while doing Kaplbhati is to embody joy and lightness.

Kapalbhati or ‘skull shining breath’ is belly or diaphragm oriented. And the exhale is active and controlled, while the inhale is passive or reflexive.

This is a good morning mind purification ritual. Learn to coordinate your abdominal muscles and diaphragmatic movement—with no tension or unnecessary effort.

It feels like you are using your belly to sharply blow your nose. And a variation on this is to breathe through your mouth, making a ‘hoo’ sound on the exhale. The intention is purification or active detoxing.

The same advice applies, start slowly and gradually build up the pace, intensity, and number of reps. And always practice pure awareness and natural breathing between sets.

So, in summary, Bhastrika focuses on the chest. The inhale and exhale are both active and controlled, and the purpose is to energize and enliven yourself.

With Kapalbhati we focus on the abdomen, the diaphragm. The exhale is active and controlled while the inhale is passive or reflexive, and the intention is cleansing or purification.

I have not recorded a video demonstration, and so I suggest you do a Google/YouTube search to see how different yogis and teachers do it.

Don’t get hung up on the Sanskrit terms, although some people love showing off their yoga vocabulary! Focus on coordinating the forces, dynamics, and structures. Remember it’s a meditation not just an exercise.

Good luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

Love and blessings to all,

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Celebrating the Benefits of Breathwork

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One of the biggest results or benefits of breathwork for me is how it quiets my mind and takes me to a soft place of inner silence, stillness and peace, where there is no thought, no movement, and no ego… Just pure blissful awareness!

During my recent adventure with covid, I found myself spending a lot of time in that blissful state between waking and sleeping, where my mind feels spacious and my body feels weightless.

Throughout my bout with covid, I resisted taking any drugs or medical supplements. My practice was simply to open and relax and, to be with my breathing, allowing my breath to flow, and allowing myself to flow with it.

Whenever I found myself caught up in uncomfortable thoughts or feelings, I would remind my body to relax, and I would return my attention to the breath in order to quiet my mind. Sometimes I would consciously generate thoughts and feelings of peace and comfort, which caused the breath to move or pause or change in some way.

Sometimes I would focus on counting or pacing my breath or sensing it with my whole body, which resulted in even more comfort and peace—despite the suffering! And so, once again I am celebrating the art and science of breathwork!

And I am not alone in this celebration. Here is a list of results and benefits sent to me by other breathworkers in our community. Maybe you have experienced them:

Fully embraced the importance of self-love and self-care

Greater understanding of myself and others

Feeling more connected to myself and others

Created a new way of discovery and learning

Quit smoking. Lowered my blood pressure

Eliminated several prescription medications

Cleared my anxiety and depression

Became more spiritual rather than religious

Awakened real and abiding connection to Divinity, Source, God.

Enjoying many surprising discoveries about my self

A greater sense of calmness.

A bigger comfort zone

Noticed how subtle changes accumulate into major shifts

Awakening to wonderful new parts of myself

Able to bring spiritual principles to life rather than intellectualizing and philosophizing

Ability to surrender to what is, as it is.

Greater feelings of aliveness throughout the body

Noticing more brightness in the world, more brilliance around me

Much more conscious and aware of subtle body sensations

More freedom of expression. Less psychological baggage

Relationships with family, friends, co-workers are improving

Better athletic performance

Feeling more connected to earth energy.

I can energize and calm myself

Able to deal with and alleviate pain

Increased ability to slow down, pause, and take in moments of bliss

Able to consciously respond instead of reacting

Able to interrupt dysfunctional or un-resourceful patterns

More vibrant connection to my inner world

A stronger connection to Source. Feelings of oneness

Able to anchor new information, skills, insights

Less bothered by difficult people, things, and situations

Calmer, more focused. More open to love

More flexible psychologically and emotionally

Able to easily shift to a more positive perspective

Able to look at problems in different ways, and find unique solutions

Better intuition. Expanded psychic abilities.

Bubbling up of happiness and joy

Seeing more joy and aliveness in people’s eyes

Noticing a wonderful glow around others

More loving and accepting of myself and others

Not fighting and resisting life as much

Less judgmental, less guarded

Connecting more deeply to people

A delightful sense of newness

Noticing that my presence has a real healing impact on others

With each session, there is a peeling away of layers

I am becoming more whole and freer

Helped get me through a serious life-threatening condition

Support in dealing with cancer

I am firmly set on the path of growth and self-healing

Greater ability to love and accept whatever life brings

More positive attitude. Less critical of self and others

Helps with sleep disorders

I can watch my mind

Seeing how my mind tries to change reality to match its ideas

More conscious of choices, fears, energetic blocks

Willingness to explore instead of avoid.

More able to say “yes” to life. More adventurous.

Able to observe myself in different situations instead of being lost in automatic behaviors

Seeing my own patterns more clearly

Realize how when I change, other people and my world seems to change.

Do many of these results and benefits ring true for you? I can relate to almost all of them. And I invite you to add to this list!

Love and blessings to all,

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Breathwork for Releasing Trauma

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Recently, the International Breathwork Foundation sponsored a teaching session called “Befriending the Elephant in the Room: Recipes for Trauma Release in Younger and Older Bodies.” It was a pleasure to create the presentation with Joanne Lowell and The Breathing Classroom Team.

A fun and beautifully illustrated booklet is in production and will be available through the IBF soon. And if you’d like to view the Zoom Presentation, contact the IBF.

This is a very important topic, especially considering the state of the world these days. And since breathwork is such a powerful means of addressing the issue, I’d like to talk about it this month.

First of all, we need to realize that trauma is not a problem. It is a fact. It can occur when something negative happens without warning; when something happens that we are not prepared to deal with; when negative events occur multiple times; or when they leave us feeling powerless.

Trauma has many physical, psychological and emotional signs and symptoms, and we all respond to it in our own ways, such as anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, guilt, shame, hopelessness, self-blame, denial, disbelief, confusion, difficulty concentrating, loss of memory, having an extreme startle reflex, nightmares, insomnia, disturbing visual images or intrusive thoughts about an event, a feeling of being numb or disconnected from reality, withdrawing from social situations and personal relationships, aches and pains that have no explanation, and chronic health problems due to stress.

It sounds like if you have a belly button, you have experienced trauma! It may surprise you to learn that most people have been carrying trauma in their bodies since birth! And nothing clears it better and faster than Breathwork, especially when combined with other healing practices. In our little IBF booklet, we reveal some very powerful ‘recipes’ for clearing trauma.

Here is a quick overview of the elements in the approach:

  1. Conscious Breathing
  2. Identifying ‘Triggers’
  3. Body Tensing and Relaxing
  4. Body Scanning
  5. Touch/Self Massage
  6. Moving, Shaking, Dancing
  7. Making Soothing or Expressive Sounds, Toning, Singing
  8. Finding a Place Inner Stillness, Silence, Oneness
  9. Gentle Self-Soothing

Once you understand and practice these basic ingredients, and by trusting your body’s natural wisdom, you can combine them in your own unique way. When you do, you can help yourself and support others. This is by no means a complete list of trauma-related practices or interventions, but they are more than enough to do the trick!

What’s more, you can select and apply these practices in your everyday life whenever you feel fearful, tense, anxious, irritated, edgy, upset, when your fight or flight response gets activated, or when something causes a sudden increase in your heart rate or blood pressure. You can even practice right now.

Bring to mind a disturbing event. Close your eyes and tune into your breath. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Get your breathing into the ‘therapeutic zone’ which is between 4 and 8 breaths per minute. You can use ‘Coherent Breathing’ which is 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out. You can practice the ‘1-2 Breath’ which means your exhales are twice as long as your inhales. Or you can simply repeat slow exaggerated sighs of relief. Continue breathing consciously while you open your eyes and take in the details of your surroundings for a few moments.

Then close your eyes again and scan your body from top to bottom. Feel what’s happening in your jaw, neck, shoulders, belly, spine, arms, legs, hands… How does it feel in your body right now? Look for a place in your body that is warm, relaxed or comfortable. Allow your attention to rest there. Put your hand over this place and breathe into it for a few minutes and feel a sense of gentle peaceful expansion. Know that you can return to this soothing feeling at any time.

Next, bring your attention to a place that feels tense, uncomfortable, closed, or blocked in some way. Put your hand over this place and breathe into it for a few minutes. Bring in a self-soothing resource: a pleasant memory in nature or a loved one. Give the feeling a voice or play with sound.

Open your eyes again and notice your surroundings. Tune into something around you that brings a pleasant feeling, such as the sky, a tree, a plant, or a pet. With your feet firmly planted on the ground, invite gentle rocking or swaying, like a tree in the wind. Or you might want to loosen your knees and let your whole body shake up and down.

After a few minutes, return to simple stillness, and let your breathing be free and easy and natural before returning to your normal activities.

Wishing you much luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

(Guchu Ram Singh)

It Ain’t What You Do, It’s What’s Going On Inside You While You Do It!

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I think most people would agree that the main thing in any relationship is what you bring to that relationship. A similar thing applies to communication: often what matters most is not what you say, but how you say it. And Breathwork is no different: the quality of attention and the purity of intention that we put into the practice determines what we get out of it.

This month, I want to remind you that there are three pillars or cornerstones in Breathwork: consciousness, relaxation, and breath control. And it’s a reminder that it’s easy to get caught up in the technical details and the measurable aspects of the practice and miss the subtle essence of it.

An unconscious person might be hooked up to a mechanical ventilator which is set to an ideal rate and volume in terms of physiological requirements, yet that breathing pattern is void of any psychological, emotional or spiritual benefits.

There was a time when our survival depended on being strong and fast. Animals with the sharpest teeth, biggest claws, and toughest skin tended to out-survive others in the jungle. But then along came smart, and suddenly or gradually, speed and strength alone were not enough.

Moving into the future, it is not those who are the strongest, fastest or smartest who will survive and thrive, but those who are the most conscious. Consciousness is primary. It is the most essential aspect of our nature and existence itself. And breathwork is all about awakening and expanding consciousness, about raising and deepening our consciousness.

Breathwork is also about bringing passion and enthusiasm, love and appreciation—not only to the practice, but also to ourselves and others, to life and the world. Leading scientists and philosophers tell us that consciousness exists everywhere in everything—or more accurately, everything is taking place in your consciousness.

Take a few minutes right now and become conscious of your breathing. Be very conscious of your inhale and be very conscious of your exhale. And be very conscious of any pauses between the breaths. Be very conscious of the muscles you use to breathe. Be very conscious of the feelings and sensations related to the breath. And notice that everything is taking place in your consciousness.

Being more conscious is about being totally honest with yourself about exactly what you feel and what you think. It’s about being totally present to what is occurring in your mind and body. Whatever ‘grabs’ your attention, whatever your senses alert you to, breathe into it, breathe with it. Meet it and greet whatever arises in consciousness with breath awareness.

Begin to play with your attention. Notice that your attention can be internal or external, it can be narrow or broad. Notice that you can combine internal and external awareness. You can be laser-focused on a specific external event or object and at the same time you can maintain a broad internal awareness of your body breathing.

Bring a sense of openness, of softness and relaxation to the practice, and you will find that your awareness expands and deepens. As it does, you will notice the natural tendency to experience ‘heart-centered’ thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Most people are trying to think their way through life or muscle their way toward success or victory. Breathwork teaches us that we can open to life and move through life much better by awakening heart intelligence. It’s no accident that the lungs are wrapped around the heart.

Breathwork teaches us that higher consciousness arises in the heart. Think of the heart as your new root chakra! If you use your breath to become more heart centered, your relationships and your communications will take on a new quality, a new dimension, and your experience of life will deepen and expand.

Right now, focus on your heart and breathe. Deliberately generate thoughts and feelings that resonate with your highest aspirations, and your heart’s grandest desires. Breathwork is about choosing high quality thoughts and feelings and then consciously breathing life into them.

If you put this kind of passion, enthusiasm and heartfelt intention into each breath, you will begin to awaken to your essence. If you can bring a certain quality to your awareness you will awaken to a universal consciousness that is far more powerful and much more important than any personal power, speed or mental capacities!

And the amazing side effect is that you will naturally and automatically become faster, stronger, and smarter!

Good luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

(Guchu Ram Singh)

March, 2021

ON BREATH AND BREATHING: Breathwork By Any Other Name

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Shakespeare could have been talking about Breathwork in Romeo and Juliet when he said: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

The point is, it matters not what something is called. What matters is what it is. Breathwork is a basically a modern name for Pranayama, the Hindu Science of Breath. Yogi Ramacharaka turned me on to the Science of Breath as a young teenager. (And by the way, on the very same day, I discovered Ernest Shurtleff Holmes and Science of Mind.)

That day in the attic of the American Red Cross building in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in a big way is why I have spent the better part of my life traveling, studying and teaching. My work has been to turn as many people on to Breathwork or Pranayama as possible. (What’s in a name?)

Breathing is more important than eating and sleeping or going to the bathroom. And breathwork is much more important than brushing your teeth, shining your shoes, combing your hair, or if you are a yogi- shaving your head.

What I am celebrating today is how the current medical scientific understanding of what happens when we do breathwork aligns perfectly with what the ancients said happens when we practice Pranayama.

“Prana” means “life force energy.” “Ayama” means “control or expand”

The ancient yogis controlled and regulated their breath in order to control and regulate their mind and their emotions. And just as the ancient yogis did, we can learn to use the body and the breath to heal the mind, and to use the mind and the breath to heal the body.

The essence of pranayama is learning to breathe energy as well as air, to gather it, circulate it, and direct it. I don’t always like it when teachers try to impress us with the use of esoteric language. Many of them memorize all the right Sanskrit terms, yet too many don’t really get what it is that they are talking about!

I am sure you have felt it. When someone just passes on what they heard someone say or what they read in a book. Compare that to someone who speaks from embodied knowledge and genuine experience. Genuine energy can be felt. And breath is energy.

I can tell you from experience that in pranayama, consciousness and energy come together as one. And speaking of pranayama, here’s something I read in a book:

Puraka means inhale. Rechaka means exhale. Kumbhaka means hold/pause.

By the way, holding the breath with full lungs is called Antara Kumbhaka, and holding the breath with empty lungs is called Bahya Kumbhaka. We could also talk about spinning energy centers or wheels called “chakras,” and how they coincide with various organs and glands and nerves.

And we could talk about energy channels like Ida and Pingala, Sushuma and the experience of Samhadi. And how they align with our modern understanding of the sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways in the autonomic nervous system, and the experience of the flow state or being in the zone. But let’s save that for another time.

Today, let’s just focus on the basics. To play with the inhale the exhale and the pause is to practice Pranayama: the dance of awakening and unblocking, balancing and regulating your life force energy—and therefore your mind, body and emotions.

Here is a basic 15-minute Pranayama Protocol that you can use to get a handle on your energy first thing in the morning and get your day off to a great start. You can also practice it mid-day to avoid the afternoon crash. And it’s also a great way to end your workday and shift to family time.

The main thing is that it will get you on to the path of Breath Mastery which ultimately leads to self-mastery or self-liberation. I created this protocol just now for this report. And I invite you to practice it right now for yourself.

Start with Triangle Breathing: Inhale for the count of 3. Exhale for the count of 3. Hold/pause for the count of 3. Inhale 3, exhale 3, hold/pause 3. Do this for 3 minutes.

Then practice Square Breathing: Inhale for the count of 4. Hold/pause for the count of 4. Exhale for the count of 4. Hold/pause for the count of 4. Inhale 4. Hold 4. Exhale 4. Hold 4. Do that for 4 minutes.

Then do Circular Breathing: Inhale for a count of 2, and exhale for a count of 2. Inhale 2, exhale 2. No holding/no pausing. Do this for 2 minutes.

Then let the breath breathe you. Stop controlling/regulating the breath. Let the breath come and go by itself. When it wants and how it wants. Just relax and feel. Just be aware. Meditate for 5 minutes.

Finally, stretch and move, twist and turn, shake and wiggle. Do this for 1 minute. And then write to me and tell me what happened, and how you feel!

Welcome to Breathwork or Pranayama or Conscious Breathing or Spiritual Breathing. What’s in a name anyway…

I wish you much luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path.

Breathing in the Flow

Breathing in the Flow

By Blog

I am reminded today that I’ve written an article about breathing every single month since June of 1976. And this month—although I’m a bit late getting it out—is no exception. Welcome to my October 2020 Breath and Breathing Report.

Breathwork is truly a gift. It’s a genuine blessing to the world, and this month I am celebrating that fact! People everywhere are getting turned on to the breath big time! Medical scientists, sport psychologists and corporate executives are finally waking up and speaking up about the real and practical benefits… And it’s about time!

As a small boy I was awakened to the spiritual power and potential of breathwork. And just before entering the military, I was re-awakened to the miraculous nature of breathing and I became a missionary for the breath. At the time, I felt like a voice crying out in the dessert!

When I talked about breathing, people would look at me as if I was from another planet. They would roll their eyes and say, “breathing shmeathing. Meditation shmeditation. Get a real job!” Back then, there was little to no medical or scientific evidence to support the fact that by changing how we breathe we can change how we think, feel, behave and perform.

But I wasn’t about to let a world full of skeptics and cynics stop me from practicing and preaching on every stage, platform, soapbox or rooftop I could find. I could not deny my own experience. And I could not ignore the fact that everyone who practiced breathwork showed unarguable physical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual benefits.

Fast forward to today. We have the internet, with countless breathing summits, conferences and online breathwork sessions and trainings. We have tens of thousands of breathing gurus, instructors, practitioners, adherents and proponents. Everyday another book on breathing is written, another breathing app appears, and countless articles and studies are published.

Breathwork has become the key to performing in the zone, as it’s the quickest and most effective way to enter the flow state. No wonder it has become the biggest trend ever in the health, sports and fitness world.

Conscious breathing causes us to feel very awake and very alive, very connected, very focused and very centered. Ask any elite athlete and they will tell you that nothing beats the peak experience of being ‘in the flow’ and performing ‘in the zone’. The rush of those high octane, record-breaking moments is extremely appealing—and even addictive.

The flow state and being in the zone is always connected to an activity or competition of some kind. It’s always understood in terms of the role it plays in overcoming physical or psychological barriers, breaking world records, demonstrating amazing abilities, or accomplishing superhuman (egoic) feats.

And so, this month I’d like to focus on something to be found beyond all the performance benefits of being in the flow. And that is in the potential it has for triggering and transcendence, self-realization, enlightenment, and a state of “Pure Being.”

This month, I suggest that you explore the flow state and being in the zone in a way that is not connected to performing, whether as an expert marksman, elite martial artist, marathoner, gladiator, gold medalist, or sex god. I suggest instead that you practice breathwork as a way of simply being in the flow, or simply being in the zone.

I often invite my clients and students to: “lay down, relax, and breathe as if you are running full speed up a hill.” When you’re actually running up a hill, you don’t have to make yourself breathe. Your body automatically turns your breathing up to meet the extra energy demand.

Practice relaxing completely and keep relaxing more and more with every breath. Breathe in a powerful, passionate and enthusiastic way—but not with effort or force. Since there is no muscular effort, activity, or metabolic demand, your body will try to make you stop the extra breathing. But if you can override this normal chemical/biological reaction, and keep breathing in spite of it, then something remarkable can begin to happen in you.

If you keep generating energy with the breath even though your body doesn’t need it, that energy has to go somewhere, it has to do something. And it does: it triggers profound emotional healing and psychological growth, spiritual transformation and evolution.

Because the body doesn’t need the energy for physical work, it is available to open our hearts and to open subtle doors of perception. It burns away karma and trauma and our negative and limiting thoughts and beliefs. It opens our heart and expands our consciousness!

Try it. Lie down and deliberately relax every muscle and every joint in your body. Then begin to ‘ramp up’ the breathing as if you are running full speed up a hill. Maintain your meditative awareness and don’t “do” anything except breathe and relax and feel the energy.

Spend time just being in this energy, simply enjoying the electricity, the vibrations, the tingling, the delightful expansive sparkling flowing feelings of aliveness. See how this awakens a deeper connection to yourself and to others. See how it deepens your connection to life, nature, your Source, and to your sacred mission and purpose in life.

Use your breath to awaken a tsunami of life force energy. And then simply relax into it. Bathe in it. Melt into it. Merge with it. Ride it. Don’t think. Don’t act. Don’t do… Just be. No goal. No seeking. No trying. No doing… Just the experience of Pure Ecstatic Being.

This month I invite you to Breathe in the Flow!

Good luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

THE PRACTICE OF BREATHWORK: 3 COACHING QUESTIONS

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I’ve been wondering what to write about this month and couldn’t decide, and so I want to thank Eric, one of our practitioner candidates, for sending me these questions and giving me a topic for this breathing report!

Here are his questions:

Nasal breathing versus the sigh of relief and yawning. After I read Nestor, Litchfield and McKeown, I catch myself refraining from sighing and yawning now. Gosh! I am going to lose this precious CO2! I also stopped doing connected breathing through the mouth. Do I have to breathe through the nose as often as I am aware of, and give myself a little treat with sighing and yawning? Is connected breathing through the mouth reserved for a breathing session?

Coherent Breathing and resistance breathing. When I do coherent breathing through the nose on an in 4/out 8 or in 5/ out 10 pattern (and I will try 6/12 soon), I combine it with resistance breathing (ujjayi). It allows a much deeper and longer exhale than just nasal breathing. Is this ok?

Peter Litchfield speaks about ‘negative practice’: to be conscious and become ‘expert’ in a bad breathing habit (chest breathing) when this habit is triggered by a relationship or a situation. Then, we will be able to switch automatically to the ‘preferred’ diaphragmatic breathing. Do I need to be conscious of an emotion rising up, triggered by a situation AND of the changing breathing pattern at the same time (chest breathing)? to be able to switch to a new healthier pattern?

Ok, first let’s talk about Nasal breathing vs the sigh of relief and yawning. Nasal breathing should be our natural unconscious automatic habitual breathing pattern. And we also need to practice deliberately enjoying and celebrating our sighs of relief and our yawns.

When we breathe through the mouth, it should be done consciously, for a purpose, as an exercise or technique. This is very different from an unconscious dysfunctional habit. Nestor, Litchfield and McKeown are focused on the physiological, chemical, and the balancing and stabilizing end of the breathwork spectrum. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the spiritual, transformational, cathartic, and energizing practices.

Unless you have a specific related health condition, there is no reason to avoid practicing in either or both directions. In fact, as Breathworkers, we need to be experienced and comfortable across the whole spectrum, including both extremes. And as Breathworkers, we need to be able to correct any imbalance in either direction. We need to master the ability to quickly breathe our way back into balance, no matter where we are, who we’re with, what’s happening, or how we feel.

When we do a Connected Breathing session, we get to choose which channel we breathe through, and/or we can let the breath itself decide. And, in a single session, we may find ourselves switching back and forth between the two, and so we need to be comfortable with both channels.

About coherent breathing and resistance breathing. ‘Coherent Breathing’ is defined by Dr. Stephen Elliott—who actually trademarked the term—as “Breathing at a nominal frequency of five breaths per minute with comfortable depth AND conscious relaxation…

Notice that 5 breaths per minute is a 6 second inhale and a 6 second exhale—in other words, a 12 second breathing cycle. Another pioneer and expert on this subject is Dr. David O’Hare (Author of 365: Heart Coherence). He teaches us to practice 6 breaths per minute. That’s a 5 second inhale and a 5 second exhale. So, I think we can see that Coherent Breathing involves a specific range/rate which we can call a therapeutic zone.

If you practice a 4 second inhale and a 6 second exhale, that’s a ten second breathing cycle, so are still breathing at a rate of 6 breaths per minute. This is a very useful practice. You are in the therapeutic zone. But some would say you can’t call it “coherent breathing.”

Inhaling 6 seconds and exhaling 12 seconds, is an 18 second breathing cycle, which is 3.3 breaths per minute—pretty slow for the average untrained person, and it is outside the coherent breathing range. Yet, this is still a very good, healthy, and useful practice.

And yes, it’s a good idea to combine the Ujjayi sound when practicing coherent breathing. It enhances the benefits. And it’s good to integrate Ujjayi into many other breathwork exercises, techniques and meditations, for the same reason.

Finally, Dr Litchfield’s concept of “Negative Practice” is a great training principle. When we make our unconscious habits conscious—when we deliberately breathe in a dysfunctional way—we can more easily feel and recognize that negative behavior when it happens, and we can more easily correct it.

And yes, as Breathworkers we need to be conscious of our emotions when they arise and conscious of what triggers them. We need to be aware of how we actually breathe when we are caught up in emotions, in order to know how to adjust our breathing to shift, manage, or transform our emotional energy.

We can use breathwork to enhance and intensify emotions, as well as to lessen or suppress them. We become aware of our unconscious breathing patterns in order to take conscious responsibility for our emotional experiences. In a real sense, breath control is emotional control.

By the way, I wrote about all this in my November 2019 article called “The Battle Over Breath.” You may want to review it. And here is an interview with Stephen Elliott about Coherent Breathing.https://www.bmedreport.com/archives/10310

 

SQUEEZE AND BREATHE

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My friend Mike White at breathing.com uses this phrase to describe his approach to the practice of optimal breathing.

Andrew Weil in one of his breathing courses says this: “put the exhale first.”

Dr. Peter Litchfield, my go to guy for breathing chemistry and respiratory physiology, warns us against “aborting” the exhale–which means not cutting your exhale short. Make sure that you exhale fully.

In traditional Pranayama, the ancient yogis taught us that the exhale actually comes first. The idea being that before you can take in a full breath, you first have to empty yourself completely.

So, this month, I’d like you to focus on your exhale. Practice actively extending your exhale. Squeezing out all the breath, and then allowing the inhale to be passive or reflexive.

Try it right now.

Take in a normal inhale and a normal exhale.

And before you inhale again, simply take the exhale further. Try to empty all the air out of your lungs.

Feel your belly button traveling toward your spine as you actively squeeze all the air out. And then, relax and let the inhale come in by itself.

Keep practicing this.

The exhale should take longer than the inhale–at least twice as long.

The exhale is active. You are deliberately doing the exhale. You are actively emptying yourself. Squeezing all the air out.

The inhale is passive. Notice how the inhale is automatic or reflexive. You are letting the body do the inhale. It happens by itself.

Some people like to use a ‘shushing” sound on the exhale, and some like to exhale through pursed lips. Others like to hum or tone, or use sounds like “haaah” or “hooo”.

It’s up to you. Play with it. You can breathe in and out the nose, or you can breathe in the nose and out the mouth. Experiment. Discover what is comfortable and what is challenging.

Think of the bellows or an accordion, and how when you squeeze the handles together, you force air out. And when you open, stretch or expand the handles, air is drawn in.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, and are comfortable with the feeling of it, then begin to play with speed and rhythm. Start off slowly and deliberately, and then practice breathing more rapidly.

You are beginning to understand how the “Thoracic Pump” you were born with works.

You can begin to feel how your heart and brain are fueled and supported by the working of your diaphragm.

And you can begin to experience how the circulation of blood, lymph, and even spinal fluids, are all enhanced.

Once you master this skill or practice, you can build on it, to increase your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Your breathing strength improves, and you naturally develop more stamina, endurance, for overall performance in sports, fitness, and everyday life!

Breathwork Training is Preventive Medicine for the Twenty-First Century

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Everyone breathes but unfortunately very few people breathe very well. That’s why Breathing Training is becoming more popular than yoga and meditation! And that’s why it’s the fastest growing trend in the fields of health and wellness, fitness and performance.

How we breathe matters. When we allow our breathing system to decline, we set ourselves up for every kind of illness and ailment. In fact, more than 100 diseases are caused, triggered, or exacerbated by unconscious, unhealthy breathing patterns.

Conscious Breathing is the most accessible method there is to prevent or remedy many of our most pressing health issues. Breathwork training is the most natural and direct way of healing a whole range of physical, emotional and psychological problems and challenges.

Breathing Training boosts lung volume and prevents the loss of respiratory capacity as we age. It helps improve posture and spinal health. Breathwork Training makes us more adaptable and resilient and it activates and supports the body’s natural self-healing powers.

Breathwork helps us to heal tension, pain, fear, depression and anxiety disorders when drugs and other traditional methods don’t work. It improves our moods, emotions, and sleep states. And it helps us to increase awareness, confidence, intuition, self-esteem, self-appreciation, and self-love.

Breathing Training supports heart health and boosts mental health. It allows us to hack into our immune system, our nervous system and our brain, to control problems like high blood pressure, inflammation, asthma, chronic stress, chronic fatigue, and long-standing addictions.

Conscious Breathing Techniques trigger the release of opioids (natural pain killers and anti-depressants), as well as dopamine and serotonin (“happy and calming” hormones—neurotransmitters of pleasure, motivation and memory). And they also reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone).

Breathing training helps improve digestion and it supports weight loss. Did you ever wonder where your weight goes when you lose it? Studies show that most of that weight is eliminated through the breath!

Poor breathing habits, especially in children even cause unhealthy development and disturbing changes in facial muscles, joints, bones, and teeth alignment. Our ancestors had naturally healthy breathing habits, and they all had straight teeth!

Breathwork training clears stale stagnant energy from our system. It helps us to access, manage and release suppressed emotions, to control our nervous system and alter our brainwaves. Breathing training allows us to relax and energize ourselves on demand.

Breathwork helps to reset our body’s basic mechanisms and brain chemistry. It helps athletes to run faster, dive deeper, climb higher, and it helps us all to sleep better and to live longer.

Breathwork Training produces powerful psychological insights and emotional breakthroughs. It triggers beautiful mystical visions, deep spiritual awakenings, and genuine “rebirth” experiences. It even allows us to turn certain genes on and off.

Breathing Training helps us to maintain balance in the body so that mild health problems don’t develop into serious health issues. Breathwork awakens our natural appreciation of the magic and mystery of life. It helps us to realize our purpose, and to fulfill our heart’s grandest desires.

None of this is new. Practically every modern breathing technique was taught by the ancient masters and can be found in ancient texts. These techniques have been renamed, repackaged and repurposed over the years by different cultures for different reasons.

Anyone of any age can benefit from breathing training. But since breathwork unlocks powerful life force energies, some breathing exercises may not be suitable for everyone, and certain breathing techniques are definitely not for dabblers.

Activating energy is easy, but learning to wisely control, direct and distribute this energy is another thing altogether. That’s why breathwork requires weeks or months to learn, and years to master.

The world desperately needs more high quality breathworkers and ethical breathing teachers. That’s why I offer breathing training, coaching and consulting. And that’s why I teach others to facilitate breathing sessions and to lead breathwork seminars and workshops.

Now is a perfect time to begin a new career in the field of health and wellness, fitness and performance, or to take your current healing or coaching practice to the next level. I have been teaching breathwork since the early 1970’s, and so you are invited to enroll in one of the oldest and most respected Breathwork Practitioner Certification Programs and Breathing Teacher Trainings in the world.

For more information on please visit www.breathmastery.com and subscribe to my FREE Monthly Newsletter Breathing Reports and search the archives. (I have published an article or essay on breathing every month since June of 1976.)

Get my book, JUST BREATHE: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business and Beyond. (Available through Amazon.com, and in bookstores everywhere.)

Enroll in my online O2 Fundamentals Course and begin your Breathwork Training today. All the info is here:
https://www.o2collective.com/breath-mastery-fundamentals

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