What is Breath Work?
Although we cannot survive for long without breathing, most of us do not breathe naturally or fully. The tensions of everyday life in the 21st century cause most of us to breathe rapidly and shallowly, using only a very small portion of our lungs. When we use our breathing mechanisms to their full capacity, we breathe deeply and slowly, filling our lungs with air which carries oxygen to our blood so that toxins (pollution, residue from stress hormones, etc.) can be released. On the out-breath we expel these harmful substances from our bodies. So breathing properly is part of nature’s de-tox plan for us.
In addition, deep regular breathing has a very calming effect on the body and mind, and therefore is extremely helpful in dealing with stress or anxiety. Fears are calmed by breathing, and you can have a sense of being more ‘inside yourself’ or “centred” and better able to cope with whatever situation you are facing. Full complete breaths are also food for your soul and your spirit, bringing you into harmony with your own spiritual energies and helping to align you with universal love.
The out-breath should be slightly longer than the in-breath, allowing the residue in the bottom of the lungs to be fully expelled. This will help to cleanse your system and will improve the functioning of all your physiological systems – digestion, nerves, lymph, etc. As with any muscle, your lungs will get stronger as you practice these exercises, and you will feel the continuing benefit of proper breathing in your life.
How can we use Breath Work in our work together?
Any healing or visualisation work that we do together will include some basic breath work. In addition, I can teach you some basic breathing techniques and we can practice together.
If you are trying to learn to listen to your own inner guidance, deep rhythmic three-part breathing to induce calm and confidence is essential. The yogic ‘alternate nostril breath’ is also an excellent basic technique for calming and centring oneself, and is a good exercise to do each morning and evening. I can review these methods with you.
I have designed a simple centring exercise based on four breaths and some accompanying arm movements that you can use any time you feel stressed or anxious. Or, if you are too stressed to use this, just remembering to lift your heart to heaven and inhale fully can make you feel better.
It can also be helpful for you to tell me at each of our sessions whether or not you are remembering to breathe, and which exercises you are finding most helpful. Just knowing you are going to tell me about your practices will help you remember to do them.
RECOMMENDED AUTHORS / TEXTS
Yogi Ramacharaka The Science of Breath 1960
Ella Adelia Fletcher The Law of Rhythmic Breath 1908
Robert Crookall Psychic Breathing 1979