Brilliant Breathing Exercises
Brilliant Breathing as the Yogi once said, “Perfect breathing perfect health”.
Perhaps the most important and most under looked tool for better health and mind is better BREATHING.
An early mentor and trainer of mine Miss Mandy Langford would always say “Chris become a detective.” (I think of Colombo) when working with a client. Look for the clues they are giving you, the language patterns, posture, breathing, what they are wearing and skin colour etc. Of course, I learnt to do this, but only to a degree.
I worked on myself TFT, EFT, EMDR, COUNSELLING, HYPNOTHERAPY, BOWEN, ROLFING, FELDENKRAIS and NLP. You name it, I did it! And yes, everything helped, particularly the body work of Bowen and Rolfing when it came to my Asthma. Great, but they started something and I needed further help, something I could do for myself. I found solace in FELDENKRAIS BREATHING.
Then I discovered breathing exercises that were simply the best of the best and my breathing improved by miles. I had done an A TO Z of therapies for my asthma and missed the bloody obvious. Mandy would have laughed at me on this one and just like Colombo can spot the differences in others, he was not so good with himself (hung-over, in trouble with his wife and needing loads of coffee).
Well now, being a detective and having done my breathing training I noticed that the common denominator in all stressed, anxious and emotionally charged people was poor and dysfunctional breathing. I can identify it over the telephone and in people passing by in the street.
I recently worked with a group of 6 people who were under psychiatric care. I was given access to them on the hush and each of them had severe anxiety having been under care for between ten and twenty years each. Because of protocols I was only permitted to do breath work. I had them do a series of breathing exercises (I taught them over the phone individually) for just over three weeks. At the end of this time five of them reported no anxiety and their emotional/depression problems had improved tremendously although they had not gone completely. The sixth had their anxiety decreased by at least 70%. They all had been on very high medications.
The incredible thing in all of this was that four of them had been smokers and given up during this time and a fifth smoker had reduced from thirty a day to one every three days!
UNDERSTAND- Breath work is crucial in resolving stress, anxiety and emotional disturbance work like depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
I now teach breath work to almost everybody I work with unless I’m doing a one off session. The results always amaze me as they do the clients. In my trainings, the parts students tend to enjoy and benefit from the most is the breath work.
Early Yogis, Tibetan Masters and Shamanic Healers around the globe have used similar statements, “Perfect Breath, Perfect Health.” I am beginning to believe that this is the most obvious and perhaps the most important change we can make in our lives. Commit yourself to these exercises each day for four weeks and you will be thanking me for the rest of the year, commit yourself for the year and you will be thanking God or the universe for the rest of your life.
Do you remember as a child when your guardian, parent or even strict teacher entered the room to tell you off and your internal voice said “Oh no,” and you gasped a quick breath and held it? Well guess what, you have got used to doing that! It is the equivalent of stepping out in front of a bus and saying “Oh S – – T,” gasping into the mid chest area and jumping out of the way.
Yes, it can be useful however it alerts the brain chemistry to fire up adrenaline and to send it to the heart to pump blood to your arms and legs; the well known fight or flight response. It saves lives but it can, in the long term, kill us through stress, stress that will inevitably lead to anxiety which leads to depression.
When we are overworked or overwhelmed or ready for an exam or learning something new, we hold our breath, we breathe into the mid chest area and we fire up our fight or flight response. This is SNS (sympathetic nervous system) breathing. The sympathetic nervous system runs fight or flight. It saves lives, a fantastic tool, but we practice it too much in 21st century living. Now the PNS (aka parasympathetic nervous system) deals with healing, relaxation, digestion, deep sleep, and also breathing. We need a balance and to move forward to PNS breathing. Throughout our lives through habitual patterns, trauma, relationship breaks, overworking, general stress, fears and phobias our breath reflexes become SNS dominant. This manual will show you how to redress the SNS dominance.
More poor breathing
Of course there are other factors and many other systems in the body that affect breathing. We will look at a few in this manual and we will guide you where to go for further help too.
Ideally our out-breath should be a little over twice as long as our in-breath. Ideally we should breathe about four times a minute give or take and even less if you have great breathing. Our inhale should be deep down into the lower abdomen and it should feel like a skater on ice, not a series of steps or events.
While resting, slowly exhale your breath fully and hold out while counting per seconds (time yourself with a watch). Hold out until it would be uncomfortable to hold any longer and then inhale. What count did you get up to? Ideally 70 seconds is good if you have great breath.
Place one hand above your belly button and the other below. Breathe normally. Notice where your breath goes. Some will be lucky and it will go below the belly button. If so, does your tummy expand down towards your legs as well as to the sides and outwards? If not, further work is necessary. Does your breath reach your upper hand? If so, you have dysfunctional breathing. Does your breath only go as far as your chest or very top of tummy? Well, you need more work.
BREATH AND HEALTH
John Grinder (co creator of NLP) taught me that disease has a state in which it survives. John would often work with Parkinsons disease and cancers and would eliminate all symptoms of the illness by regressing the client to physical and mental body mind states that existed before they were unwell. In very clever New Code NLP games he showed us and taught us how this was possible. Many people have said to me over the years, “I can fix someone’s problem, but it comes back” or it does not hold, or they cannot fix the person’s problem at all.
Well thanks to Mandy and John and all my favourite gurus and mentors it has become obvious why. With Thought Field Therapy (TFT) we are working with meridians and we solve the causal affect in the meridian system and the person is better, sometimes for good. But when they are not, it is because another system is affected. Emotions are released from the body through Bowen, Rolfing, Deep Tissue Massage, Shiatsu, etc. The fascia are softened and worked through. The muscles are worked through. The meridians are worked through and structural holding patterns change. Through breath work we change the way we breathe emotionally: shallow breathing, holding breath, not breathing in at all, tight anxious breathing over-breathing and panic attacks. Toxins in our body are linked to traumas. Detoxing people often find themselves emotional, craving addictive substances, etc. Of course our energy patterns and chakras and aura may need attention, too, balancing, cleaning, opening, etc. All of these systems or any combination of these systems may need working through, as well as Mind Programmes and Belief Patterns to make a lasting change and to make a change where change has not happened. While all of these systems affect each other dramatically, breathing properly in my opinion is the common denomination that is perhaps the most overlooked in most people.
Qigong, Yoga, Tai Chi, Martial Arts, Energy Gurus and the like talk of breath as Prana Life Force Energy. We breathe in good vital energy that feeds our organs and all of our systems, oxygenating the blood and killing anaerobic bacteria viruses and oxidizing toxins as well as a host more. We exhale carbon dioxide (which is acidic) and exhale unwanted and stuck energies. A full breath in allows our brain to scan the body and a full breath out allows those messages to be noted.
Signs and Symptoms of Poor Breathing
wanting extra breath
high altitude breathing difficulties
anxiety of any kind
back pain (mid or lower back)
bluish lips or nails
blood sugar swings
when deep breathing, neck muscles bulge in collar area (check in mirror)
breathing feels like a series of steps rather than one continual flow breathing feels stuck
breathing is laboured or tight
can’t meditate or relax
can’t walk and talk
cold hands with sweaty palms
cold air bothers breathing
confrontations make person’s voice pitch rise
loss of general awareness
lower abdomen cramps
sternum or side stitches
giddy when overexcited or anxious
fall asleep watching tv or reading
bump below breastbone on deep breath
finishing off other people’s sentences for them
night time teeth grinding
blood pressure problems
abuse or trauma
hypocapnia (too small an exhale, overdosing on CO2)
deformed rib cage
jet lag bad
lump in throat
shifting weight from side to side while standing
bad sleep patterns
pulsing or stabbing around the ribs
heightened sensitivity to pain
self esteem issues
yawning and sighing a lot
feeling band of tension across chest
breathing problems like asthma or emphysemia
excessive and or negative thought patterns
Type A personality
stomach abs like a six pack
These are some. There are 136 groups of signs and symptoms in my breathing training. These symptons and signs do occur when there are other problems, so if you are unsure check with your health care practitioner.
People with dysfunctional breathing have poorer oxygen levels, this happens as most people do not breathe out fully and are not ridding themselves of the correct exchange of carbon dioxide. Thus even if they were to breathe in fully, which most people do not, they would get just a fraction of oxygen needed as the exchange is all important. People with poor oxygen levels have poorer brain functioning, weakened celluar strength, deteriorated detoxifying and immune systems, strained nervous systems, poorer digestion and therefore absorption of nutrients, less healing and brain scanning capabilities, and they get sick more often or stay sick longer. Perfect Breathing means Perfect Health (when eating and drinking sensibly and when other lifestyle options are good).
POSTURE IS ALL IMPORTANT. Alexander Technique,Bowen, Rolfing, Feldenkrais, or Deep Tissue Massage may all help with posture if you require it.
Modify your home seats or chair with two cushions behind your back. This will help you sit up straight. The diaphragm needs an upright posture. Think of this dome shaped muscle being on a track. As you inhale the muscle moves downward. If you are partially bent over as you exhale upward, it has no smooth passage. The diaphragm in most of us is undersized and not making its full up and down journey. It acts as a pump. Think about pumping up the car tires. If it is underused, like any muscle it will shrink, and when it shrinks, it makes a smaller passage and will not pump a good air exchange. The most important thing is to get the diaphragm functioning fully. Lung expansion is usually second in its importance in breathwork. The heart sits above the diaphragm, and the liver and kidneys are situated below. The spine and rib cage are linked to the diaphragm, so as they move, so can the diaphragm. When the diaphragm functions fully and travels the correct distance, it massages our vital organs which is vital for good health.
We recommend the breathing exercises to anyone in this book, but if you have any injuries or any reason to wonder if these exercises are OK for you, or if they hurt or are too uncomfortable in any way, stop and ask your healthcare provider first.
SPECIAL BREATHING FOR
MEDITATIVE STATES AND ANXIETY ELIMINATION
Drinking Straw Exercise
Obtain a straw or imagine having one. Take a gentle but deep breath. Place straw to mouth and close mouth around straw. Slowly exhale very slowly. Don’t blow. Just exhale until your lungs are 80 percent empty, then remove straw, close mouth and slowly exhale the last twenty percent through your nose. Allow the in-breath to come, and take three normal breaths to normalize breathing. Then repeat the exercise. Do this for ten minutes a day for calming, helping breathing difficulties, meditation, addictions, etc. This technique acts takes your breathing reflex from stressed, fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system breathing to parasympathetic breathing. Great for people anxious about flying. Pretending to have a straw also works. Just go through the actions in your mind.
Tilt and Lift Exercise
Lie on your back with your lower legs resting on a low chair or end of bed or a cushion approximately 18 inches from floor. Have a cushion behind your midback, up to between your shoulders but not as low as the lumbar curve. Have another cushion behind the neck, and you can also use a pillow under your head. If you’re not comfortable then you are not in the right position.
Exhale the air in your lungs fully. Hold air out and then lift and tilt your pelvis until there are two to three inches between your bottom and the floor. Hold for three to four seconds, lower your bottom to the floor and then allow your in-breath to come in. You will find it is deeper and more automatic than normal, allow two or three normal breath cycles or until breathing feels calmer and then repeat process. Do this for fifteen minutes daily and you will further increase the dominance of the parasympathetic breathing over the old sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight breathing.
Lie flat on the floor only. Use pillow or cushion if necessary to be comfortable. Legs are outstretched, arms are by your sides. Inhale and hold raise right leg. Exhale SLOWLY, VERY SLOWLY, as you lower leg to the floor. Synchronize your exhalation with lowering your leg so that when you have fully exhaled your leg will have reached the floor. Inhale and hold, raise left leg, and exhale as you synchronize lowering your left leg to the pace of the VERY SLOW exhale. Repeat, alternating between legs for twenty each leg, 40 all told, or less if you get tired or need a break. Aim to do 40 daily. This will train your exhale to be longer help the diaphragm and increase lung capacity. An amazing tool.
This will help increase the lung capacity by 30% as the lungs have the most chance of expansion into the lower back as there is the most room there for them. Sit on the edge of a chair upright, place your palms on knees. Start bending your torso over your thighs and slide your hands down your legs until they are somewhere in front of your feet. Now fold your arms normally as if you were sitting upright, and let them hang there just in front of you. Hang your head down there, too, with your feet apart. Now take in twenty breaths, as slow and deep as you can, breathing into your lower back on both inhales and exhales. You will find that your stomach stays flat so the air has to expand your lungs into your lower back. Often my students say it is like having a back massage. When you have completed all twenty, or less if you’re tired or uncomfortable, slowly slide your hands (after unfolding them) back up your legs so as you gently and slowly rise to a sitting position.
Stand with your hands on your hip bones, thumbs pointing out over the kidney areas and fingers over either sides of the tummy. Exhale fully and squeeze your hands tight, resisting as you inhale. Let go, breathe normally and repeat. Do this 10 to 15 times. This is a great calmer for anxious people and can be done at any time when stressed or as needed.
Seat Belt Exercise
Obtain a car seat belt less the mechanical parts. In the UK, check www.findapart.co.uk. This website contacts all the car breakers yards in the UK and you tell them what you want. Then all the breakers yards in the UK will contact you and you get the cheapest price, usually no more than five UK Pounds. Any seat belt will do as long as it will wrap around you a couple of times and have a couple of feet free at either end.
This exercise needs to be taught to you by your trainer first. It is very safe when done as per instruction. If you have fractured ribs or other injuries you may opt out of this exercise until your health care practitioner say it is OK to do so. It has been verified by orthopaedic surgeons, chiropractors and many more as very safe and very effective. I have shown it to my own body work practitioner who thought it highly effective.
Wrap the seat belt around you from the back around the front of the upper chest, high up under the armpits. Exhale and cross over the ends. Exhale and pull tight. Swap hands with belt ends. While pulling tight, inhale into your chest, imagining that you are trying to break the belt with your chest. Once you have fully inhaled, release belt. Allow a few breaths and make sure you are breathing comfortably. Repeat this process in Position One up to ten times.
Move to position two over breast nipples for men, below breasts for women. Do not tighten over a female breast. Again wrap belt from behind and then in front and across chest, swapping over ends for tight pulling and hands. Exhale and then pull tight, keep ends tight. Inhale and expand chest as before while resisting with belt. Once inhaled, slacken off breathe normally. If OK, repeat about ten times or until tired. If breathing is uncomfortable in any of these belt exercises, go back to the one before or the next one that did feel comfortable and leave the uncomfortable one out.
Tie strap from behind lower back across front of lower ribs, cross over belts and hands and fully exhale. Tighten and hold belts, resisting as you inhale and try to expand chest. After a full inhale, slacken off and breathe normally repeat ten times or until tired.
Go to Position One. Tie belt around back under arm pits across to front, swap ends and hands over this time. Exhale fully tighten belt and deep belly breathe into your abdomen. You may feel diaphragm stretches and frontal chest stretches. After you have fully inhaled slacken off breathe normally. If fine, do another twenty or until tired. Repeat in Position Two and in Position Three.
These seat belt exercises are the quickest way to expand the chest and the diaphragmatic muscles I know. Your breath will feel fuller and more satisfying. You may experience emotional release as so much emotion is held in the ribs, just take a brisk walk and it will calm down generally after a few minutes but may last a few hours.
Take your time building up to the amount of repetitions listed in the manual, starting at half the amount. After a week or more, build up to the full amount. You may experience your ribs expanding and sometimes they may feel sore for a few days, so rest from the exercise until they feel better. This is part of the expansion process. Enjoy these exercises. They will work wonders.
Ask your trainer where you can order a diaphragm strengthener, too. This will aid your breathwork no end.
The main detoxifying routes are through liver, kidneys, bowel/colon, and bladder. However most people’s sytems are very toxic and these elimination channels back up. In that situation they will try and eliminate through the next safest routes, avoiding major organs like heart and brain until they are the only route. So the largest organ of all, the skin, is the next safest route. If you have poor skin, it is generally an indication of what is going on inside of you. Hence saunas are wonderful for detoxifying. The next place to send waste is the lungs where we can cough out phlegm and catarrh containing with all sorts of nasties. Hence we often get coughs, colds, or pneumonia as a way of detoxifying.
So get your exits sorted first. Many people are put off by colonic clinics, having tubes in your bottom and enema drips, etc. However I have experienced firsthand the wonders of two recommended ways of clearing your exits. Check out the best site, www.drnatura.com. Their Colonix programme uses psyllium husk, other herbs, parasite cleanses, and a herbal tea – best done for three months, two months minimum. Another way that’s a little easier is using three 600mg capsules of Oxy-T last thing at night for two months and then a small maintenance programme. Ideally use the Oxy-T first and then follow with the Dr Natura programme.
I would also recommend everyone to look at a candida website and check any symptoms with their questionnaire that you might have. Take a look at www.mccombsplan.com. While their recommendations and their plan are the best I know of, there are substitutes that can be easier and are more affordable with diet restrictions like Threelac or Fivelac. They may take a lot longer though and do not come with the same support as the McCombs plan does. Also oregano, capryllic acid and citricidal are great antidotes with a diet restricting all sugars, alcohol, yeasts, all grains except brown rice, all juices and even some fruits. But I would advise you to do this through a naturopath.
There are a number of good detoxes on the market. Kidney flushes can be organized through your naturopath or you can source the herbs through www.healthleadsuk.com or www.drschulze.com
Although this has been done safely around the world by perhaps millions now, if in doubt, check with your health care practitioner first.
Ideally it is best to do a parasite cleanse for a ten day period first. www.healthleadsuk.com can provide you with black walnut green hull, cloves and wormwood herbs to cleanse or you can do a google search or ask your naturopath about a good, safe natural parasite cleansing formula.
Many people do the liver cleanse without the parasite formula. However those that cleanse the parasites first have less chance of feeling queasy and get an improved cleanse.
For 48 hours do not eat fats – no dairy at all, no meat or fish, no butter, sauces, bread, cake or anything that has fat in. You can eat vegetables, fruit and brown rice, which are all very healthy. The second day, eat your last meal by 1.30 pm. Only sip water after that. No food or drink.
At 6pm take three teaspoons of Epsom salts (careful if you have high blood pressure) in half glass of water. You can substitute Epsom salt capsules (available www.healthleadsuk.com), perhaps thirty to make up the equivalent amount. Stir and drink salts or swallow capsules. Repeat again at 8pm. Get all your bedtime chores done. At 10pm take a large glass and half fill it with freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice. (If you cannot eat grapefruit substitute with juiced green apple and some lemon, never concentrate.) Fill the glass halfway with juice and then fill to the top with virgin olive oil. Immediately after drinking the juice and oil, lie down on your right side to allow the mixture to work through gall bladder for twenty minutes. Then lie on your back. Think pleasant thoughts about your liver cleansing.
If brave, more Epsom salts at 6am and again at 7.30 am. Drink juice at 8am, eat fruit at 10am, and eat normally from midday (day three). Day three you will be using the loo up to about lunchtime as a guess. You will not have much sleep and will be tired. A jacket potato cooked ahead of time is great to have at midday as it will give you an energy boost. However, the following day you will be buzzing. The effects of a liver cleanse are amazing.
Wait at least two weeks before repeating. Overall after several cleanses many people achieve getting rid of up to 2000 liver stones. These stones contain acidic nature and cholesterol with a range of toxins, bile, parasites and their larvae. The stones are contained in bile ducts in the liver which block proper functioning to the liver and may contribute to allergies and disease. The Epsom salts open the bile ducts, having no fat for 48 hours builds up bile pressure, and the juice with virgin olive oil flushes the stones through. Repeat until all stones have gone. You will see the stones, some green, some brown and some tan, floating on top of the loo water as they are excreted.
Remember to do flushes at least two weeks apart, or better still, monthly. Once clear you may repeat yearly or every six months or as your naturopath advises.