Anyone who does yoga, martial arts or meditation knows the benefits of breathing exercises. However, most of these modalities teach us how to control the breath as we exhale, what happens if we learn to release through our breath and let go instead?
Enter Transformational Breath®, I went along to a workshop at Indaba Yoga, London, lead by renowned UK breath coach Alan Dolan, to see if I could use breath to unlock my inner ‘guru’.
History of Transformational Breath®
Transformational Breath® (also known as ‘Breathwork’) was developed by Dr Judith Kravitz, based in the US, and championed by celebrities such as Deepak Chopra. Dr Kravitz interest in conscious breathing techniques began over thirty years ago with Rebirthing, a breath therapy used to release traumas sustained by individuals during birth.
Integrating principles from her doctoral studies in metaphysics, Kundalini Yoga and sound healing, to name a few, Dr Kravitz created a new breathwork process which evolved into what we now know as Transformational Breath®.
Benefits of Transformational Breath®
Physical Health: We expel most toxins via our exhale and gain most of our energy through the oxygen we inhale. But did you know that on average 75% of our respiratory systems breathing capacity is not used? Transformational Breath® can aid sleep disorders, allergies, weight issues, low energy and even cancer.
It should not be used as a substitute for an exercise regime or Western Medicine but used in conjunction, it can have profound healing benefits.
“Lack of oxygen clearly plays a major role in causing cells to become cancerous.” ~ Dr Harry Goldblatt
Mental/Emotional Health: Transformational Breath® is a ‘self-therapy’, allowing you to clear negative energies and emotional blockages in just one session rather than spending many hours (and all your pennies!) in your Psychotherapists office. The triggers or root causes of depression, anxiety, anger issues and stress, can be greatly reduced if not completely cleared.
Spiritual Health: Transformational Breath® can be a great tool to use to deepen your meditation practice and strengthen your spiritual awareness. Although many practitioners begin Transformational Breath® to release physical and emotional issues, it often turns into something deeper. It should be noted that the practice is not aligned with any particular religion or belief system and can be fitted, with ease, into a modern lifestyle.
What Happens During a Transformational Breath® Workshop
Alan began the workshop with a comprehensive overview of the technique; its history, the benefits, how it works on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Alan really encouraged questions throughout the session and gave lots of examples as to what we should expect.
He explained that we would all have a different experience; some participants may get very hot – a sign of detoxification; others very cold – a sign the body is using heat to clear energy in another area.
Alan’s outlook is really refreshing, he understands what it is like juggling responsibilities and the stresses of modern living. Despite there being approximately 35 participants in the workshop he had time for each and every one of us. Seven other Breathwork facilitators were also present to assist Alan and make sure every participant had attention when needed.
One lucky participant then got to demonstrate the technique with Alan, showing us all where we might go wrong and types of acupressure the facilitators may perform on us during the session.
The Real Deal
After the demonstration, we gave the technique a try for ourselves for a duration of about 15 minutes before a brief break. At this point, the facilitators were going around the room giving some people pillows to elevate them if needed, or the end of a water bottle to bite and help keep their mouth open.
I am not going to lie, the actual Transformational Breath® experience was not exactly comfortable and lasts a whopping 90 minutes (although this flies by, trust me). It takes a while just to get into the breathing rhythm and ignore when your mouth gets dry.
There were points when I could feel my mind really screaming, “I don’t like this”, but keeping a steady breath and focussing just below my navel, as Alan had demonstrated, kept me grounded. Physically, I experienced a prickling over my shoulders, neck and face which gradually subsided. My hands also began to cramp badly, but one of the facilitators was on hand to breathe me through this discomfort and the feeling in my hands gradually returned.
Apparently, I was forcing my exhale too much, which causes the cramping. At intervals, we were encouraged to make an "Aaaaaa" sound as we exhaled to work through any particularly difficult emotions. We also vigorously paddled our feet and hands against the floor to open up out respiratory system further for maximum benefits. Yes, you will look a bit silly, but your eyes are closed and everyone is doing it so – who cares!
At one point during the session, I was receiving acupressure just under my rib cage, while practicing the breathing technique, and I felt a very distinct ‘pop’ like a bubble bursting, not a physical ‘pop’ but an emotional one, and immediately felt immense relief rushing over me as tears filled my eyes. On the flip side, towards the end of the experience, I started grinning like a Cheshire cat, and felt blissfully happy!
If you are new to Transformational Breath®, a workshop is a perfect way to dip your toe in the water, learn the basics and see if it is for you. For many of us, a workshop will be much more affordable than booking a private one-to-one session with a Breathwork facilitator.
It also brings people together, at the end of the workshop I saw participants leaning over to one another, describing their different experiences and offering support.
At times I found working through such a personal experience in a fairly large group challenging. I did get distracted by the noise and movement in the room. If you are prone to be affected by the energy of others, a private session may be better for you.
The group of facilitators who assisted Alan throughout the session were fantastic, giving one-to-one help any time you simply raised your hand. They were very generous with their time and energy, having them there definitely gave the participants an added level of safety and security.
About Alan Dolan Alan Dolan is one of the leading Breathwork facilitators in the UK, he runs one-to-one sessions and workshops throughout the year and intensive Breathing Space Retreats at his home in Lanzarote.
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