THE ENERGY TO EFFORT RATIO IN BREATHWORK
As we focus on bringing creative energy to the Practice of Conscious Breathing, the “Effort to Energy Ratio” becomes very important.
When we do conscious breathing exercises, we need to be aware of any tensions, because we can move air with our muscles but we cannot move energy with our muscles. It’s the energy that moves our muscles!
Sometimes when we are passionate about something, when we pour ourselves into something, or we try too hard to get it right; we expend more energy than is necessary. In other words we use too much effort.
In the beginning, as we are getting the hang of things, this is normal. (Picture a child learning to draw or write…how they can tighten their little shoulders, grip the pencil too hard, and even their little tongue is busy working as their hand moves!)
But as we gain skill, ease replaces effort… we develop grace. And so it’s a good idea to be aware of tension and relaxation early in the game and throughout the practice of Breath Mastery.
We need to be aware of what muscles we use when doing various breathing exercises. For example, neck muscles and shoulder muscles do not belong in the breathing process.
Using accessory muscles in the neck, shoulders, chest, and back is not required for full free breathing. In fact, we waste energy and block the flow of subtle energy by contracting or tensing these muscles when we breathe.
NOTE: There are times when we combine breathing with the deliberate tensing or contracting of certain muscles. But we do it consciously and for a purpose. Here we are concerned with chronic or unconscious muscle tensing.
Put one hand on the back of your neck and the other one on your shoulder: now breathe deeply and quickly high into your chest while you monitor these muscles.
Is anything happening in them? Are these muscles or places being activated when you breathe? Are they involved in any way in the breathing? Or do they remain soft and inactive while you breathe?
Check some other people when they breathe to get a sense of this. And ask someone to test and monitor your neck and shoulder muscles as you breathe. And have them tell you what they notice as you breathe deeply and quickly into your chest.
That’s the practice: breathe big powerful breaths and make sure that these muscles remain relaxed and disengaged. If your habit is to contract or tense or activate these accessory muscles when you breathe, then change your habit!
MORE ON THE PRACTICE:
The deeper you go into the Practice of Breathwork, the more important it is to be aware of subtle tensions. For example, even slight tension in the jaw, tongue, or forehead, can make a very big difference on the level of energy.
It’s like driving a car. When you are stopped or moving very slowly, you can turn the wheels with little effect. But when you are traveling at light speed, even the slightest adjustment has an extreme effect! So too with tension.
The jaw is what I call a “signal muscle.” Whatever happens in this muscle sends a signal to all the other muscles of the body. And so by relaxing the jaw, other muscles follow suit and automatically let go. Try it and see!
ADVANCED PRACTITIONER NOTE:
At the base of your torso is what is called the “PC Muscle.” That’s the muscle you use when you want to hold back your urine…when you need to control the urge to pee.
Locating this muscle, isolating it, and consciously tensing and relaxing this muscle while you breathe is an ancient tantra technique. It is a way to raise your sexual energy and to awaken “kundalini.”
A basic tantric exercise is to tense the pc muscle and draw sexual energy up to your heart while you inhale; then relax the pc muscle and send that energy as love and light out through your heart while you exhale.
Good luck in your practice!
Love and blessings to all!