Your Breath as A Carrier – Part II – MCM Structured Breathing

Your Breath as A Carrier – Part II – MCM Structured Breathing

I’m glad that many people liked the post on ‘your breath as a carrier’, so I thought you might like some additional tools.The WHM is based on a number of key tenants, of which gaining control over the autonomic nervous system is key.

I have also noticed that the WHM uses a 3 phase approach to breathing in: 1) abdomen, 2) chest, 3) head. And Wim also emphasises that the focus is on breathing in and expanding the lung area as much as possible but that breathing-out is just letting go.

Just as focusing on your breath as a carrier allows you to visualize and harness your breath, using structured breathing allows you to get better control of the breathing/ mindfulness process. And the structured breathing is not separate from the breath visualization, it is just another layer, another tool in your tool-kit.

Reading the previous comments, this point is worth emphasizing: there is a difference between training and practice that is evident in most things we do. When training the focus is on big, slow movements – in practice and once these movements have been ingrained, you can make them both smaller and faster – with just as much, if not more, effect! In other words, this stuff takes some effort and focus to learn, but then becomes relatively automatic.

Breathing and movement go hand in hand, but maybe not as you know it. Most people focus on the ribs and diaphragm for breathing, but there is a trigger (trigger action) that brings both of these nicely into action – flexing your spine. And there is a trigger to get your spine flexing – tilting your pelvis.

Practicing structured breathing requires a little bit of set up to get you going:1) Stand gently upright with your knees slightly bent and soft (this allows you to flex your pelvis/ hips better) and let your arms hang loosely at your side. 2) Purse your lips, open your mouth and widen your throat – you are just going to let air flow in and out as it needs to.

Pelvis Tilt

Now without moving your head too much, tilt your pelvis top forwards and up (45 degrees) and pelvis bottom back and down (45 degrees). It will cause your back and abdomen to stretch and curve. You should also feel an intake of breath as your lower diaphragm drops. As you continue slowly to tilt your pelvis, you should also feel air being drawn into your chest area as the middle diaphragm drops. As you continue further, let your head go with the flexing of your spine and let it tilt back slightly (at 45 degrees up).

If you practice this slowly you should feel a distinct 1-2-3 phasing to the breath. Abdomen, chest, head. You can add to this feeling by dropping your jaw slightly as you start the flexing and expand your ribs as the flex reaches your chest. As you get to your head you should feel a distinct feeling of your head getting slightly lighter, or as Wim describes it – breathing into your head. At this point just let the breath as a carrier visualization take over the exchange of oxygen and Co2.

Letting Go

I find this next part lovely and relaxing. By tilting your hips, flexing your spine and expanding your rib cage you have nicely built in some elastic, bow power into your breathing cycle. As you feel you need to let your breath flow out, just tilt your pelvis the other way – let your pelvis bottom go forward, your pelvis top go back, and your spine flex the other way (to a forward facing U). Release the air in your lungs and encourage your head to tilt forward (45 degrees). That’s it.

Try this in a slow methodical way a few times and your body should map onto it fairly quickly – it is a natural way of moving and breathing. What you may also notice is the effect on your head and mental feeling. That’s because a few extra treats come with this way of breathing: toning the vagus nerve, pumping your sacrospinal fluid, releasing your ‘front line’, ‘charging your bows’, and of course using your breath as a energy carrier!

I hope you find that this makes a big difference to the control and depth of your WHM breathing and brings the relaxation and mindfulness aspects of it into clearer focus. It might also engender the concept of moving energy at will around your body.

Enjoy!
Julian.

(picture relevance: you might be playing all the right notes … but not necessarily in the right order!)

Wim Hof Method – Addin #2

WHM Addin #2

Following on my from my post on Mindfully Connected structured breathing, here is another simple trick to help with the breathing.

Out-Breath Hold

My out-breath hold length varies depending on whether I am in the shower or lying down. Lying down I can hold my out-breath after the 3 x 40 structured breathing for around 1.5 minutes – standing up for around 1 minute. The addin is on the in-breath hold.

In-Breath Hold

When breathing in, I keep my abdomen flat (i.e. I don’t let my abdomen expand). Then when I have taken the in-breath, I hold it and distribute the air around my body. The way I do this is, what I call, a 5 star mind-model. Imagine that your body is a star shape with it’s centre around your abdomen (dantien) and each part of the star pointing into your feet, your hands and your head. When I distribute the air in my body I push it along the points of the star, going around the star 2 times slowly (i.e. to a long count of ten). This gives a wonderful feeling of moving energy along your limbs and up your torso into your head and a mindful sensation of inflating the fascia around your body.

Enjoy!

Julian.

The next post in this series is Moving Mindfulness.

 

Wim Hof Method and Energy Shifting Addins for You to Try

WHM

I think the Wim Hof Method (WHM) is a great new way of spreading the word about some very old principles that had faded into relative obscurity. Personally, I really like the newfound discipline of combining structured breathing and better oxygenation with the system shock management of cold water showers. Many people get it and can just apply Wim’s approach, but others can’t or they want to try different nuances on his method. Here I will share a couple of ‘addins’ from the work I do on moving energy and explain why.

Structured Breathing

Breath Holding

Moving Mindfulness

Structured Breathing

I’ve read a number of discussion posts from people that find the breathing exercises difficult to master. I’ve outlined this before but here’s a more comprehensive description of, what I call, structured breathing: think of your body as having three ‘organic’ balloons centered 1) in your lower abdomen 2) in your chest (mid sternum level) and 3) in the middle of your head (mid-way between your ears).

Breathing In

When you breathe in, 1) tip the top of your pelvis forward and allow air to ‘inflate’ your lower abdomen, and as this fills-up, 2) allow the next batch of air to inflate your chest ‘balloon’ in 3 dimensions – not just raising your rib-cage. Then, even though you may have taken in most of the air you can, continue to feel that your body is expanding, but this time, 3) focused on your head, allow the sensation of expanding to give you the feeling or air going into and inflating your head. As you do this, let your head tip slightly backwards. Together with the pelvis tilt, this will give you a noticeable arched back and neck – try and keep your eyes horizontal as you do this.

Breathing Out

Now, the breathing-out is essentially the opposite of the breathing-in pattern.  Sigh and relax slowly, then let the balloon in your head contract and your head tip slightly forwards (eyes level). Let the air in the top of your lungs start to come out , followed by the mid-chest balloon contracting and releasing air, and then contract your abdomen as you let the pelvis top tilt backwards. You can practice the pelvis and head movement as being big movements, but after time even small movement will help trigger the movement pattern.

Structured Breathing is an integral part of the Mindfully Connected Method of mind-body energy management.

The next post is this series is: Breath Holding

New Year, New Challenge – The Wim Hof Method (WHM)

Wim Hof Method

One of my New Year’s challenges is to try out the Wim Hof Method (WHM) to see what is does for me, what I can learn from it and how it relates to stuff I already know about and/ or practice.

My first impressions are very positive – effective breathing, meditation and energizing. I’ll write a series of blogs about my experiences as they develop.

So, here is the first one;

Wim Hof Breathing

I do like this. It takes me around 10 minutes to do the simple breathing exercises (3 sets) and then another 10 to 15 minutes meditating afterwards.

My approach to this was to follow Wim’s recommendations of breathing into my abdomen deeply (lying down), then into my chest and then feel as though I was breathing into my head. Then letting go with my body and breathing out relatively heavily.

He recommends to practice this cycle 30 (optionally to 40) times. Then to breathe out and hold your breath for as long as you can. I can manage around 60-70 seconds reasonably easily.

Then after this to take a deep breath in and hold it for another 10 to 15 seconds. The 30 breath cycles, expired breath holding and inspired breath holding, forming one complete set.

After 3 sets I do feel very chilled and ready to meditate, but I’ll describe that part in my next post.

For me the breathing session is about double the time I would normally practice and engages the upper chest more than I would normally do.

Mindfully Connected Method

Adding in the Mindfully Connected Method (MCM): I use structured abdominal breathing to emphasise the depth of abdominal breathing, following that with a wave of MCM structured upper chest breathing and then MCM Vertical Head Line Expansion.

Adding in the MCM components definitely enhances the WHM breathing approach for me.

Systema Breathing Trick

There is also a trick from Systema breathing that allows you to hold your breath for longer: You will notice that after 30 or 40 seconds you’ll start to get a tightness in your chest and a panic desire to breathe. Try and ‘swallow’ this feeling. At first you’ll only be able to swallow this panic feeling once or twice. After a bit of practice you can get to swallowing it for 5 or more times and your breath hold will then go past the one minute mark relatively easily.

So Far, So Good.

I like the extended breathing approach, I can relate well to it and I can feel it is doing me good. I can also enhance it will a few additions from my current practice.

Next Post: Meditation stage