Musings on all things inspiring

Archive for March, 2014

The Emotional Balancing Power of Breath

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Stepping into Freedom: Rules of Monastic Practice for Novices

Life has its  unique stressors, from extreme traumatic events to more pervasive lifestyle considerations, such as performance anxiety.  Whether the personal challenges you face are severe or small, there is a powerful remedy available through breathwork techniques.

There is a direct relationship to the way we breathe and the emotional states we find ourselves in. When we understand that each emotion we experience has a corresponding breath pattern, we can begin to use our breathing to release negativity and trauma, and increase our alertness, peace, and general feelings of well-being.

The process offered by Breathflow Wellness is simple: accessing and harnessing the natural healing power of our innate life-force energy by utilizing specific patterns of breathing (known as the Transformational Breath®) to maximize oxygenation of the body and brain. Oxygen(O2), being our #1 energy source, creates many beneficial results when it is introduced in abundance to the body system. There are many ways to increase O2, including hyperbaric chambers, ozone therapy, supplementation, etc.; however, the easiest and most empowering method for achieving results is to put the power into the hands of the individual by teaching them to learn to breath more effectively and how to use these techniques to balance and enhance their experience of life.

Oxygenating the body and brain has a powerful effect on the nervous system and consequently the emotions. The power of Transformational Breath is that it works on the subconscious root of any stored trauma or negative issues. By practicing a particular pattern of breathing that reinforces healthy emotional responses, one can clear the held energy of past traumas, and be more effectively present to deal with new challenges as they arise.  The end result of Transformational Breath is to unlock deeper layers of our potential, which can come in the form of intuitive insight, greater creative flow, and general feelings of well-being and clarity of deeper life purpose.

Take Home

One of the greatest aspects of using breathwork for healing and thriving is that it is readily accessible to us—anytime and any place. One simply needs to find a quiet space to practice the technique of Transformational Breath for 5 to 15 or more minutes.

It is easy to learn how to do the technique and participate in the daily practice of “100 Breaths to Joy,” a 5 minute session that can be done at a time most convenient to you. There is also the possibility of doing a longer session on your own after the technique is mastered and old habits of dysfunctional breathing become more apparent and easier to release.  It is recommended to have a number of facilitated sessions before this is attempted, so that you don’t fall back into old dysfunctional patterns before you have fully anchored in the pattern of healthy, deep, circular breathing.

For more information on Transformational Breath, visit www.breathflow.com

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Why Is Breath So Important in Yoga?

Why Is Breath So Important in Yoga?

I came across this post in a yoga blog and felt it was worth sharing. Being a breath-worker, I feel this has merit not only with regards to yoga, but to life in general. There is NOTHING more important than breath, whether we are talking about physical prowess, emotional balance, or spiritual progress.

This post may seem in conflict with some basic understanding with regards to Transformational Breath that I teach; however, I believe it is a good practice to be able to hold conflicting ideas in the mind and be able to comprehend the truth within all of those ideas.

Hope you enjoy. Please feel free to comment.

Here is the text that is also in the link above:

 

Why is there so much focus on the breath in yoga? What is the link between yoga and breath, and why is it so important (besides the fact that it keeps us alive)?

In a typical yoga class, we are instructed to consciously breathe, connect to our breath, breathe deeply, retain our breath, etcetera. What impact does the breath have on us, and our yoga practice?

Breath And Length Of Life

A yogi measures the span of life by the number of breaths, not by the number of years.
-Swami Sivananda

It is said that if you breathe 15 times per minute, you will live to 75 or 80 years. If you breathe 10 times per minute you will live to 100. The speed at which you breathe will dictate the length of life. If you breathe fast, your life will be shortened. This is why dogs have short lives.

Conscious Breathing

We are continually instructed to “breathe consciously” when we are in yoga class. Breathing consciously is the essence of yoga as it assists us in connecting with the subtle energy within. It is through the breath that we are able to navigate different levels of consciousness. Moreover, breathing consciously has a biological effect on our mental, emotional, and physical state.

Firstly, connecting with your breath is a method for being present. When you concentrate on each aspect of the breathing process, you are present; you let go of the past and future and are focused on the moment inside the breath. This is why breathing consciously is its own meditation. But this is just the beginning of why conscious breathing is important.

When you breathe consciously you activate a different part of your brain. Unconscious breathing is controlled by the medulla oblongata in the brain stem, the primitive part of the brain, while conscious breathing comes from the more evolved areas of the brain in the cerebral cortex. So conscious breathing stimulates the cerebral cortex and the more evolved areas of the brain. Consciously breathing sends impulses from the cortex to the connecting areas that impact emotions. Activating the cerebral cortex has a relaxing and balancing effect on the emotions. In essence, by consciously breathing, you are controlling which aspects of the mind dominate, causing your consciousness to rise from the primitive/instinctual to the evolved/elevated.

Controlling The Breath

By changing the breathing pattern, you can produce different states of mind. Slowing down the breath has an impact on your emotional state. The cerebral cortex is activated through consciously slowing down the release of breath. Then the cerebral cortex sends inhibitory impulses to the respiratory center in the midbrain. These inhibitory impulses from the cortex overflow into the area of the hypothalamus, which is concerned with emotions, and relax this area. This is why slowing down the breath has a soothing effect on your emotional state.

Channels Of Subtle Energy

Breath controls the body, mind, and emotions. There are 72,000 nadis, or channels where the subtle energy flows throughout the body. Of the 72,000, there are 3 that are the most important: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.

The Ida Nadi begins at the Muladhara Chakra, courses through the chakras and ends in the left nostril. Ida is aligned with the moon energy and has a calming and cooling effect.

The Pingala Nadi originates at the Muladhara Chakra, courses through the chakras and ends in the right nostril. It is associated with the sun energy and has a heating effect.

The Sushumna Nadi is the central channel. This is the nadi that the Kundalini energy travels. It is associated with balance.

During the course of the day, the left and right nostril alternate in which one dominates. This is accomplished through erectile tissue in the nasal passage that inflates with blood to cut off, or reduce the flow of air. One of the nostrils will dominate based on your mental, emotional, and physical state. They alternate throughout the day. As they change over, the Sushumna is activated, but only for a couple minutes. The key is to activate Sushumna for a longer period of time. This is accomplished when both the Ida and Pingala are flowing evenly.

Prana And Pranayama

In yoga we learn to control prana, the vital force, through pranayama. We use the breath in pranayama to learn to control prana, but don’t confuse prana with breath. Prana is the energy that animates the lungs. It is NOT the breath. Using the breath is the easiest method for training prana. Once you are able to control prana through pranayama you are better able to control the movement of prana to other organs and areas of the body.

The breath being the mode of pranayama, we focus on the three stages of respiration: inhalation (pooraka), retention (kumbhaka), and exhalation (rechaka). However, according to yogic texts, pranayama is retention. Inhalation and exhalation are methods for affecting retention.

Kumbhaka, or retention of the breath has a physiological effect on the brain. First, it provides more opportunity for the cells to absorb oxygen, and eliminate more carbon dioxide. This has a calming effect on the mental and emotional body. In fact, scientific studies have proven that slight increases in carbon dioxide for a short amount of time reduce anxiety levels. However, it is only beneficial up to a certain level. Carbon dioxide becomes very harmful, even fatal at high levels.

Furthermore, when the breath is retained, the brain panics because the carbon dioxide levels increase. Increased carbon dioxide levels stimulate the brain’s capillaries to dilate. In this way, more capillaries in the brain are opened up to improve cerebral circulation. This builds up an immense amount of nervous energy in the brain, forcing the creation of new neural pathways and the activation of dormant centers; the brain is activated and awakened!

Breath And Sound

Every vibration has sound. Breath, a vibration, also has sound. The Yoga Chudamani Upanishads states that the breath has a sound that is heard at a particular level of consciousness. According to the Upanishads, the sound of the breath is “So” during inhalation, and “Ham” during exhalation.

When you withdraw your senses from the external, you are then tuned into the internal sound and can hear the breath. By mentally chanting – So-ham, the mantra manifests as an audible sound in the inner ear. In Kundalini Yoga, we mentally chant Sat on the inhale, and Nam on the exhale which serves the same purpose.

Mind, Prana, And Breath

Basically we can look at the breath like the oil in a car, prana as the gasoline, and the mind as the engine. By understanding their relationship to one another you are better equipped to navigate your life to a higher elevation, and repair it when it breaks down. The yoga mat is just the starting point of your journey.

Moody Clues…

Well here I am again…sitting on the edge of the blog cliff. Exactly one month since my last post…By the delay in time since the last entry it is obvious I have been stalling…And the longer I stall the more difficult it is to get back into it. But no time like the present to take a deep breath and jump…

It has been raining lately. We REALLY need it. However as much as it is necessary, it puts me in kind of a funk. I am in awe that I am affected by the weather so easily. Affected by many things, This is one aspect of what it means to be moody…allowing external factors to have control over my state of being.

What is really going on here? I believe that changes in the environment: weather, other people’s behavior, traffic…whatever, ultimately just stir up the pot of unintegrated feelings that still reside inside. I realized as I was doing my first session of work with my current “Self-Love coach,” Anat Peri, that moods come from repressed, unexpressed feelings. In my childhood I was very moody. I realize now it is because I had a difficult time expressing my true feelings in my family environment.

There were feelings that a 7-year old needs to express, but doesn’t have the skills to do so; at least in my case. When these feelings aren’t expressed they get bottled up and eventually leak out. This to me is a basic definition of a mood: leaky unintegrated feelings. As I grew older my moods became a passive-aggressive tool. In my family dynamic, the expression of feelings was not promoted. It was more important to keep an air of equilibrium to the environment. But even as a teenager, there was still the feelings inside of an unresolved 7-year old. As those feelings came out in moods, they annoyed my parents. In the childish manner of a 7-year old I used those moods to “get back” at them unwittingly; for not being able to express my feelings and on some level feeling they were at fault for it. It was my attempt to clear the air in the only way I knew…dysfunctionally.

Interestingly, as I grow older (and hopefully a little more mature) I recognize that moods are still there, the unresolved 7-year-old still lives inside, waiting to be validated. I also have come to understand that it is not my parent’s fault; this validation must come from myself. It is so interesting. I am doing 2 programs at the same time and they are both bringing me to the same realizations. First, I am leading a group through The Presence Process, by Michael Brown. This week in that process is the conscious response to internalize, “I am innocent.” The whole chapter is on nurturing the inner child, which represents joy, creativity. The other program is a 100-day formal Self-Love affair. The first session got into my unresolved relationship with my parents as a block to loving myself. The conclusion of both: In many ways I am still 7 years old, and until those 7-year old issues that have never been dealt with are addressed, I will continue to experience that unresolved energy in my life, resulting in moods and a less loving attitude towards myself, and reflecting those attitudes on those around me.

The solution from both programs lies in my hands: I have to nurture that inner child into a new level of safety and expression, and I have to forgive my parents as that 7-year old, so I can relate to them as an adult. Plain and simple…and not easy.  But why not? I am the one who makes it difficult. Well…it’s the 7-year old.  But it is time to treat him like an emotional 7-year-old, pick him up, hold him until his emotions have been fully expressed, then let him go run off to play with a new reset attitude. And so it is…