Dennis Lewis, the author of, “Free your Breath, Free Your Life,” “The Tao of Natural Breathing” and “Breathe Into Being: Awakening to Who You Really Are,” once wrote that “breathing re-education work, and the exercises related to it, can be divided into a number of categories. These exercises are extremely helpful in overcoming various kinds of breathing problems. They also promote diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing, back breathing, etc. These different breathing techniques open our body’s breathing spaces. Some exercise can also work on our spirituality and inner peace to help us rejuvenate and live a more fulfilling life.
But just practicing these exercises is not enough. In order to bring substantial change to your breathing pattern, you must base your re-education exercises on the principles of natural breathing. The exercises should be carried out in a way that they become a natural thing for your body and mind. You should be aware of the good effects of these exercises on your mind, body and soul in order to gain their benefits. “
In today’s modern age, most people find the concept of using breathing techniques and development very strange and unusual. Most of us take breathing as something we are always doing in the right way. They think that if breathing is something we do naturally, then there is no need to pay any extra attention to it. Did you know that many maladies can be caused or worsened by poor breathing including: asthma, anxiety, high blood pressure, headaches, poor sleep, shortness of breath, and much more? Oxygen is the most important factor. Also, nervous system function, circulation, detoxification, and internal organ massage are greatly aided or inhibited by the way we breathe.
Have you ever taken really good notice of your breathing? Many of us don’t breathe deeply enough or in the right balance. Many of us hold our breath a lot. But most of us won’t ever know this because, unless we have been diagnosed with some kind of breathing disorder or miraculously experience the right breathing balance, ease and depth, we will have no reality or experience of good breathing and we won’t be able to feel it in its optimal form. There is a right way to breathe so that it "feels" right and you KNOW it is right.
As modern medicine fails to keep people away from sickness and the rising cost of treatment and insurance for that supposed treatment adds additional stress, it is now time to create a widespread and immediate action plan to improve our health. The right kind of breathing development can bring a remarkable change in the health and well-being of any person. It has the capacity to influence the history of medical evolution and the history of health-care in the world. Breathing exercises have been a part of ancient cultures for thousands of years. Sadly, the western world knows very little about them and many are surfacing in the West that may be causing energy issues that Medical Qigong practitioners call Qi Deviations. A number of physiological mechanisms are triggered when we focus on our breathing and increase the depth, volume, ease and balance of our breathing pattern. Danielle Rose, MD states that, “The more correct teachings stemming from Optimal Breathing® should be incorporated into the physical exams taught in medical schools as well as other allied physical and mental health programs, particularly education, speech therapy, physical therapy, and respiratory therapy.”
Once you optimize the rate, awareness, volume and balance of your breathing, you will notice a dramatic physiological and emotional change in your life. The effects of breathing exercises were a mystery for most modern doctors until recently. Research has shown that when you breathe, the actions of your diaphragm, lungs and thorax also work as the primary pump for your heart, lymph and spinal fluid. And of course, breathing being the only source of oxygen for our body, it helps keep us energetic and healthy.
But, you must remember that if you want to get the most benefits from breathing exercises, you must try more difficult ones as well. Practicing only easier exercises is like doing the same number of push-ups every day for years. Our body adapts to the exercise and slowly their effects start to diminish. Similarly, the muscles you use for breathing get accustomed to the same pattern and the same exercises stop having any good effects on your body. Plus the muscles become comfortable working in the same pattern. Therefore, to get long-term results through breathing exercises, you must practice all kinds of exercises including the harder ones. The issue remains: which ones, when, and for how long.
Another important aspect of breathing exercises is altered states of consciousness. Such states can be incredibly beneficial and powerful, if attained under the guidance of a qualified practitioner/guide, that is, someone familiar with the territory of so many varied energetic experiences. Some people can fall into a trance or experience a personality change in which they start behaving erratically during or after practicing such exercises. This kind of behavior is sometimes misdiagnosed as some kind of psychosis. I know someone who, after taking an intense pranayama class, got so energized and distracted that he crashed his car straight into the car in front of him, so extreme caution is advised when pursuing breathing that may induce altered states of consciousness.
Many patients and people who are looking to achieve higher goals in life have learned and use our breathing-development techniques. These techniques have helped them improve their personal functionality and power, regardless of their health and performance abilities. These exercises also help healthy people to stay in good shape and to endure stress and other difficulties in daily life.
We greatly underestimate the function of the diaphragm and its contribution to our emotional and vocal expression when thinking of it merely as a pump—a mechanical air shifter. It is also a tool for our emotional expression. We all have experienced an urgent need to laugh or yawn when we see someone else doing it. The reason behind this is that seeing a person laugh or yawn creates an energetic or physiological response in our body. This response causes us to react in the same way as the person in front of us. It is often called entrainment.
To improve our vocal expressions and to add to or compensate for lost strength in our diaphragm, we must develop optimal breathing techniques. Remember, if you are doing any breathing exercises that do not work on this aspect, they most often will have limited or counterproductive effects. “Practice does not make perfect. PERFECT PRACTICE makes perfect!”
The ancient literature on Hatha Yoga instructs us to be judicious and respectful toward breathing exercises. Even the beginner’s level of exercises should be treated with care and respect. It is becoming clear from subjective reports that the ease and flow of our breathing has beneficial effects on our entire body. Breathing accentuates our thoughts and actions, whatever end of the spectrum they may fall on, be it kindness or wickedness, harmony or disharmony, virtue or vice. The quirkiness of some people can become accentuated through these exercises. A quirk could be anything from an abusive streak to the habit of laughing inappropriately, from speaking rudely to flightiness or twitchiness, from withdrawal to overzealousness. Many phobias might well be included in these factors as I have observed phobias to have significant breathing-mechanics components. If a person has some physical imbalances in his body from mild to severe such as even with Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, these conditions can become exaggerated. Many times, people don’t pay much attention to these energetic warnings and they become habituated or addicted to these exercises. But an expert instructor can spot the warning signs and in such cases will modify his instruction plans to accommodate the student’s physical or personality traits.
There are a number of physiological risks associated with breathing exercises. One of the most common hazards is that they don’t give us any warning signs of the problems arising from not doing the exercises correctly. While practicing any other kind of yogic asanas, diet experiments or any other changes in our life, we depend on our senses for the warning signs that tell us we are doing something harmful or unsuitable for our body. If we are allergic to chocolate and do not know what it tastes like, we risk ingesting it by default.
“There are no new fundamentals.”
With Optimal Breathing, we help you develop your fundamentals first. These fundamentals are easy to learn and apply in your daily life. You don’t need any special training or knowledge to practice them. Whether you are perfectly healthy or suffering from some illness, you can practice these exercises daily. These are the best means to recharge your cellular batteries.
Content copyright 2009-2010 by Michael Grant White and Breathing.com. All rights reserved.