Freeing the Breath

“As for the proper inner breath, it is called the Embryonic Breath. Since it is naturally inside you, you do not have to seek outside for it.”

– Master Great Nothing of Sung-Shan in the famous Taoist Canon on Breathing

Most people somehow connect breathing with yoga. Over the years that I have been teaching yoga I often heard statements from clients about their impression that there’s something wrong with their breathing: “My breathing is not good” “I need to learn how to breathe well” “my therapist told me to do breathing exercises as I’m not breathing correctly”.

Besides that, I have heard horrible stories about “Breathing therapy” from several people. Their experiences varied; mostly people felt even more stressed and frustrated about their “breathing habits” than before the therapeutic attempt. It raises the question if it makes sense to apply a therapeutic approach to breathing by practicing breathing techniques only and in doing so, imposing on the breath.

Your body knows how to breathe.

I put the above statements in quotation marks on purpose.
In my experience, and knowledge, there is no such thing as an incorrect breath. Your body knows how to breathe. This is an irrefutable matter of fact.
It is based on the intelligence of life that expresses itself in the unbelievably complicated, yet perfect design of the human body. A body that we often tend to look at as a machine that needs to be fixed or replaced in some parts. A body that we often treat with a mind that approaches rather its parts, separated and isolated, than its wholeness.

The rhythm and quality of the breath is an expression of what has happened, and is happening, in our life. It refers to the length of the in and out breath, the quality to it being soft or tense, hindered or free. The way in which we live can bring an overload of stress and therefore lead to physical and mental tension that we often experience difficulties to get rid of. Tension affects our breathing rhythm and quality and can be an unpleasant experience. We clearly feel that our breathing doesn’t bring us satisfaction and doesn’t saturate our body’s needs.

There’s obviously something wrong here, but as you might have understood by now, this is not to do with the way you breathe, but the fact that your breathing is hindered in its functioning. And too often, we are not aware of the accumulation of tension in the body, which leads to more dissatisfaction of the breathing experience, consciously or unconsciously.

 The video shows the muscle groups that are involved into the breathing process:

Movement to free the breath

That is exactly the moment when people reach out for help and guidance in this matter. Most of the time, I advise a one-on-one setting, as everybody’s needs are different and unique. The more personalized the approach, the faster and more effective the outcome will be. It is not the breath that needs to be addressed, but the body.

To address the body I teach movement in synchronisation with the phases of the breath. At first the focus is on the breath, it should flow completely freely. The movements then follow the breath whereby the coordinated number of moving body parts gradually increases (i.e. first the arms only, later on combining the movements of arms and legs). I always start off in a supine position so that there’s no struggle with balance and stability. Once the client’s body starts to get it, I use the first movements of Chandra Namaskar to increase the impact. All movements are simple and accessible, to be repeated over and over again (ullola) as this refers to how the body learns.

When moving like this, the body is triggered to let go of tension. It gradually softens – by letting go of tension – and the feeling of spaciousness emerges. All of this happening has a positive effect on the breath: it can reclaim its natural rhythm, depth, free flow and soft quality, which supports the satisfaction and saturation that makes us feel relaxed, good and energetic.

Practice yoga (to free your breath) with me!

I have gained lots of experience in one-on-one yoga classes over the years, having spent hundreds of ours of supporting clients in regaining their physical health. Quite often this is accompanied by an positive impact on the emotional state as well.
I am aware of the requirements and and know very well how to guide clients to free their breathing. I focus on providing tools for relaxation and emphasize the importance of integrating those tools into daily life. My intention is to stimulate the body’s self-healing capacity in order to replace unhealthy patterns with patterns that bring calm, order, the feeling of happiness and well-being into one’s life.

My teachings of all the techniques, postures, ullolas and sequences that I apply are based on the pragmatic and profound methodology of Dynamic yoga. You can read about me at the Teachers page and at the Private yoga classes page.