I’m often asked during Alexander Technique lessons, is there anything that can be done to improve breathing. This great little procedure is a wonderful and easy way of simply freeing up your whole breathing mechanism so it functions more as it should.
It’s so often the case that we tend to hold our breath during moments of stress and anxiety, but also we can be breathing very shallowly just by habit. Unnecessary postural tension automatically restricts our breathing by fixing the ribs so they do not move as they should while also freezing the diaphragm. Our postural habits are so familiar we’re probably not even aware that we are holding our breath.
But in order to function well, our body not only needs adequate levels of oxygen but also to eliminate toxins with our out-breath. Indeed some toxins are not removed from the body by any other means than by breathing. Our breathing is all automatically controlled by our respiratory centre in the brain to ensure we have the correct level of chemicals for any given activity, so it’s important that we do not interfere with this natural process.
Freeing up the breathing process so that it functions fully as it should can help give us more energy, calm us down, clear our head so we can think better. It can also inmprove our skin complexion, shine our hair and whiten our eyes…so we’re glowing with life. It’s a full beauty and health treatment… and it’s free. We can help free up our breathing so it’s functioning better by doing a very simple exercise. I often do it myself.
This simple procedure will help you to breathe more freely. Please note, the following is only a procedure which should be done for a minute or two. If you feel dizzy, you must stop immediately and return to normal breathing.
Preparation: Stand or sit upright in as free and well balanced way as you can. Free your neck by allowing your head to roll forward on the top of your spine at a point between your ears….i.e. allow your nose to drop a little and ‘think’ your head to balance freely. If you are already familiar with the Alexander Technique inhibit ‘doing’ and give your directions before commencing. The better you are standing ‘freely and expansively’ the better the procedure will help.
1. Don’t take a special breath for this procedure. Use the air you have in your lungs.
2. Count out loud slowly up to five using only one breath. One, two, three etc…. Speak slowly. The words should flow one after the other without a break. If you run out of air, don’t force it. Just go up to three or four.
3. When you’ve finished allow the air to come into your lungs without sucking or gasping.
4. With the new air you have, count slowly up to the next higher number i.e. six, out loud at the same speed as before. This should be done all in one breath.
5. When you’ve finished, again allow the air to come in without sucking. Let it come in quietly and naturally.
6. Count up to seven this time. Again use only one breath.
7. Continue this procedure up to twelve or twenty or as high as is comfortable.
After you have completed this procedure, return to normal breathing. You may find that reached a higher numbers than you might first have expected…It can be really surprising. After performing this little exercise it is quite likely that you will be breathing much more deeply and freely than before, without any sense of effort. Don’t try and control your breathing……just let it happen. Our interest has to be, to reduce any interference with our breathing such as stiffening or holding our breath. This little exercise helps us ‘get out of the way of ourselves’, so it can happen naturally without the interference of our habits.
See how you feel afterwards. You may feel calmer and clearer headed. Do this little exercise regularly to help yourself be at your best.