*Did you feel your belly rising with each inhalation and falling with each exhalation?
*Did your chest move in harmony with your abdomen or was it rigid? Try to let it follow the movement of your belly.
*Did you feel any tightness in your throat?
Exercise 5-A / Variation - Rocking the Pelvis
Now rock the pelvis slightly backward with each inspiration and bring it forward with the expiration as shown in figures 8 and 9. Do this breathing for about a minute.
Exercise 5 / Belly breathing
Lie on a rug on the floor. Bend your knees. Your feet should be flat on the ground about 15" apart, toes slightly turned out. Bring your head back as far as it will comfortably go to extend the throat. Place both hands on the belly above the pubic bones or area so you can feel the abdominal movements. Breathe easily with your belly through an open mouth for about a minute.
*Can you sense that the pelvic movements increase the depth of your breathing and the amplitude of the abdominal movements?
You may find that this breathing produces tingling sensations in your hands or in other parts of your body known as paresthesias. You may also find your hands becoming cramped. Both symptoms are a sign of hyperventilation. If they become strong, just stop the exercises and they will fade away. They are not dangerous but your hands may develops a spasm, which is sometimes painful.
Hyperventilation is overbreathing. You have taken in and expelled more air than you normally do in a condition of rest.
Bioenergetically we would say that your body is overcharged. After you have been doing these exercises for a time, you will observe that the same amount of breathing will no longer result in any symptoms. As your body has become habituated to a deeper level of breathing, you are no longer overcharged. The paresthesias will also disappear if any emotion breaks through-should you start crying, the tingling will immediately stop for you will have discharged the excitation.
Exercise 6 / Breathing and vibrating
Here is another exercise that will help you breathe more spontaneously.While you are lying on the floor, put your legs up in the air. Your knees should be slightly flexed. Bend your ankles and push upward with your heels.Your legs should begin to vibrate. Keep your legs vibrating with the heels thrust upward. Notice that your breathing is becoming deeper. See figure 10.
*Did your belly feel tight? Could you let it out? You can do this by keeping your buttocks against the floor.
*Notice, too, that your breathing was sparked by the vibrations of your legs.
*After you do this exercise for a minute, return your feet to a resting position on the floor. How is your breathing now?
Exercise 5-B / Variation - Breathing out
This variation will help you sense how fully you can let the air out of your lungs. Letting the air out is equivalent to “letting go.”Lying in the same position as in exercise 5, make a moderately loud sound such as “ah” and keep the sound going as long as you can do it without forcing. When it stops, take an easy breath and start again.
Do this exercise four or five times and observe whether you can hold the sound longer each time.
Be sure not to force the sound. Forcing the sound or the breathing only tightens your throat and produces tension.You may find that your voice begins to tremble toward the end of the sound. You may begin to sob. This is OK. Let go and have a good cry if it comes easily. Crying will do more for your breathing than any other exercise.
Following the breathing exercises, notice how relaxed you have become. Do these three simple breathing exercises anytime you feel the need to let down and relax. They will take five minutes at most.
The importance of breathing cannot be overstressed. The breath is so closely connected with life that it has been identified with the vital spirit. According to the Bible, God, in creating Adam, took a lump of clay and breathed life into it. The Greeks use the same word, pneuma, for breath and spirit. In the teachings of Yoga the vital force that animates all life is called prana. The main source of prana for the human being is the air. By breathing we absorb prana into our bodies.
The Yoga disciple does special exercises to control and regulate his breathing so he can store up prana. These exercises are called pranayama and are the basis of the system of Hatha Yoga. “‘For breath is life’ says an old Sanskrit proverb, ‘and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.’”
However, there is a difference between the breathing in Yoga and in bioenergetics. Our aim is not to give you a religious or mystical experience but to help you be more alive and more aware of yourself and your surroundings. Our focus therefore is upon natural respiration, breathing that is easy, deep, and spontaneous. It is not a matter of making yourself breathe but of letting yourself breathe.
Every disturbance of natural breathing is due to unconscious holding patterns or muscular tensions. You may not breathe fully for fear that you might erupt in a scream. If that is your problem, find a private place and let it out. A car on a highway is an excellent place to scream, no one can ever hear it. Screaming is an, old-fashioned release technique Victorian ladies knew very well. It still works wonders.
Excerpt from Lowen & Lowen, The Way to Vibrant Health (1977)