After 36 years of breathing, Saturday 21st January 2017 was the first time I realised what it feels like to REALLY breeeeeeeeathe.
My clients who couldn't make the workshop (held at Open Space in Wivenhoe and run by Tom Wood Fin, Perception Architecture) have been asking me about it so I thought it would be helpful to write a short summary about what 'inner dance breathing' (IDB) is, how it works and my experience.
In the past, I've tried yoga breathing exercises and have experimented with breathing techniques for running, anxiety and relaxation. None of these have had the same effect as IDB.
So, what happens? It's all quite straightforward really. Tom introduced himself and the background of IDB. He showed us two types of breaths that we would use during the 1-hour session and talked us through why we were doing them. Basically, the goal is to get as much oxygen into our body. This flush of oxygen has all sorts of positive effects on the body including stimulating the lymphatic and vascular systems, helping the lungs stretch and connecting our mind with our physical bodies.
The more I read about breath, the more impressed I am. I found the following in a book called Yoga Anatomy (Kaminoff & Matthews):
"...from the moment of birth, humans are confronted by breath and gravity, two forces that were not present in utero. To thrive, we need to reconcile those forces as long as we draw breath on this planet."
There is lots of similarity in the theory behind IDB as yoga - the key tenet being that we can yolk the mind and the body through breath.
So how did I feel through the session? Quite cold! The bloody heating wasn't working! But once I'd let go of that I went through all sorts of stages: excitement at the sensation of having so much oxygen in my body, confused about which breath I was meant to be doing, suddenly really hungry (not entirely unusual for me) and then I fell asleep. And snored a bit. Woke up, felt calm, refreshed, happy and very grounded.
At some points through the track, we are guided to hold our breath. Incredibly, as we all discussed at the end, we could hold it for ages! Pretty amazing really and a small insight into how free-divers might train themselves.
Other group members described similar sensations and thoughts and explained how much they enjoyed the experience. Some of us fed back that we weren't always sure what we were meant to be doing. How long we were meant to hold our breath for? Which breaths were we meant to be dong? but Tom reassured us it's a fairly relaxed format and part of the experience is learning how we as individuals respond and react to the situation (a metaphor for life really).
A few days on and I'm still trying to remember to make myself take deeper breaths, practice the breathing techniques I learnt and have resolved to do some more reading and research about the breath.