I mentioned this in my post on Soft Belly Meditation. Transformational breathing started me off on the path. I was interested in ways of feeling more centred as I was aware from my psychotherapy training that when I could access and speak from my centre then what I said was more congruent and I felt more grounded and empowered. However the location of my centre, somewhere in the space from my rib cage to my lower belly, was a little intangible. I realised however that by taking deep belly breaths I was more able to access it.
Then a friend mentioned the Transformation Breathing workshops run by Alan Dolan, also known as the Breath Guru. I stress here that I am not gaining in any way by mentioning him. On his website and from articles I read about him on the Internet, it is claimed that this type of breathing is as good as therapy in terms of effects. Well, I decided instantly, I want to try this!
I went along to a three-hour workshop in London. There were around sixteen of us and we lay on the floor of a pleasant studio on yoga mats. We had cushions to prop up our heads and some people were given back supports to prop them up even higher. We were shown the basic technique which consists of taking deep belly breaths so that the rising of your belly is visible, and then letting go, expiring. The most important thing is that the breaths are continuous, that there is a smooth transition between in and out breath. Another important thing is that the expiration is gentle. It should be a soft letting go rather than a forced pushing out of air. A final important point is that the breathing is done through the mouth and the mouth must be kept widely open. Some people were given cut-off plastic bottle tops ( a bit like dummies for grown-ups) as they had difficulty keeping their mouths open for a prolonged period.
So we breathed like this for about twenty minutes whilst Alan and his experienced helpers came around to observe us, giving us hints like “softer inhale’, ‘breathe further down into your belly’. They also lightly manipulated certain accupressure points around the diaphragm and belly area. I got the impression that I was having issues with letting go as the acupressure attention seemed to be going to my diaphragm and I imagined my exhale was not as spontaneous as it could be.
As well as the manipulations we were given affirmations, for example, “I am letting go”, “I forgive myself”. It is possible to have one-to-one sessions with Alan and with others and this is when they do a more in-depth analysis of your body. Apparently the different sides relate to how you view yourself and how you view the world.
So how was the experience? After about twenty minutes I was concerned that I was hyperventilating. I started to feel like it was all a bit too much effort and my mouth was dry. That’s when they invited us to stop breathing and make lots of noise and bang our arms and feet on the ground. It felt good to mix things up and quite liberating to bellow with fifteen others on the floor of a yoga studio on a Sunday morning. When we returned to the breathing I felt invigorated and warm and my mood was definitely elevated.
After doing this breathing for an hour with around 4 noise-making intervals, I was in a different space . I think everyone was. Some had experienced emotional releases which is quite common and a sign of cleansing. I felt a similar kind of buzz as if I had climbed the Matterhorn (not that I have) but without the physical tiredness. Just an amazing sense of space, floating but very grounded at the same time, clear, energised, good !
More of this I thought. We were advised to do just ten minutes a day by ourselves at home. It’s been over three months now since I have been doing this before getting up in the morning. It is easier to set the alarm early for this than it is for yoga or meditation, where I actually would have to get out of bed! The beauty of this practice is that even if I start the breathing still half asleep, by the end of the ten minutes I am awake and ready to get up.
Long lasting results ? More energy…at least for getting up in the mornings ! More grounded. More focused. More able to access my emotions, positive and negative. Increased ability to approach other aspects of my life with an attitude of ‘surrender’.
Each session is different, sometimes fast and flowing, other times less so. Am I there yet in terms of expert transformational breathing? No. Still working on that ‘out breath’. And with that in mind, dear reader, I’m letting you go for today………