"Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”     ― Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

"Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” 

― Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

Why Breathwork?

This approach to pain management, therapy, and healing is different because we address pain at its roots… which are energetic. 

Most familiar perhaps in the West are the Yogic Pranayam, which aid the physical, mental and subtle body to prepare for meditation and the Stanislav Grof Holotropic Breath Work utilized in rebirthing.

The Breathwork you will experience here is not taught in Yoga, Shamanism or Rebirthing. It is simple, gentle and does not promote hyperventilation or re-traumazation.

The breath is a two-part exercise using only the mouth. There are two inhales. The first inhale is into the lower belly. The second inhale transfers the first from the belly into the upper chest which then is exhaled in full release. This practice is very powerful and need not be forced or practiced with any level of strain.

Some Science for the Mind

Dr. Otto Warburg won a Nobel Prize in 1931 for discovering that cancer cells cannot survive in high levels of oxygen. But it would be naive to presume that simply controlling your breathing could act as a preventative measure – or a cure for sedentary lifestyle disease be it emotional, physical, mental or spiritual .

What is known at the date of this post is that the  idea that consciously controlling breath is good for our health does have scientific grounding. In a University of New Mexico review, there’s enough research to conclude certain breathing techniques can ‘enhance parasympathetic tone [the part of the nervous system that slows down the heartbeat and dilates the blood vessels], decrease sympathetic (excitatory) nervous activity, improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, decrease the effects of stress, and improve physical and mental health.

Parkinson’s and Stress

I believe the body can always heal itself when given the proper support and nutrition. Yes, the body does know how to heal itself. It just needs a little help from time to time re-remembering how. I am well aware that most medical professionals frame the the cause of Parkinson’s solely in terms of a dopamine deficiency. If there is a severe head injury this is probably a meaningful and useful frame of the problem. But for a vast majority of people with the symptoms of Parkinson’s, the problem is far more complicated than a simple deficiency of dopamine. There are over 40 hormones in the body which are out of balance. Dopamine is only one among these 40 interrelated hormones that are out of balance.  Has any body been convinced and by what means? The good news here is yes! Some people are symptom free today. Many people are finding good relief by a wide variety of modalities and approaches. I have learned that there is considerable variation in what works for people. There is no universal list of things you can do that will guarantee that you will feel better. It really depends on the specific factors that happen to be causing your symptoms. I have spent the past year interviewing people who have fully recovered or who are finding ways to get relief from their symptoms. I will soon be launching a Parkinsons Recovery member website where all of this incredibly fascinating information will be posted. I would be grateful to receive some help and advice for myself
and other PD sufferers in Lithuania.
 There are a wide variety of natural methods you can use to get relief from the effects of stress. The ideabehind all of these methods is to release fear that is trapped at the cellular level so our bodies can produce neurotransmitters and reduce the production of stress hormones. Strategies that are useful on a daily basis are:

• Meditation • Relaxation • Walking • Sitting • Dreaming • Singing • Sleeping • Listening to music

Body therapies are also useful in this regard. Essential oils can be very effective, as can Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). I will soon be posting an interview with an aroma therapist who explains how essential oils can provide great release from the effects of stress. I recently wrote a newsletter with a link showing the effects of EFT on veterans of war.

Breathwork can also be very powerful. This involves continuous breathing (in and out) for a period of 5 minutes or longer. We bury the effects of stress on our bodies by not breathing. When we do breathwork, we release the effects of stress that has been trapped in our bodies, sometimes for decades.  

These are just a few of the approaches that you can do yourself. They are safe and noninvasive. With a little experimentation, you should be able to discover the methods, techniques, therapies and modalities that work for you. Use them daily and you will gradually see relief from your symptoms.    Robert Rodgers, Ph.D. Parkinsons Recovery © 2008 Parkinsons Recovery

Yogic Breathing for General Wellness

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2007 Dec 19;7:43.

"Wellness through a comprehensive Yogic Breathing program - a controlled pilot trial."
Pullen PR, Nagamia SH, Mehta PK, Thompson WR, Benardot D, Hammoud R, Parrott JM, Sola S, Khan BV. 
Department of Kinesiology and Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Increasing rates of psychosocial disturbances give rise to increased risks and vulnerability for a wide variety of stress-related chronic pain and other illnesses. Relaxation exercises aim at reducing stress and thereby help prevent these unwanted outcomes. One of the widely used relaxation practices is yoga and yogic breathing exercises. One specific form of these exercises is Sudarshan Kriya and related practices (SK&P) which are understood to have favourable effects on the mind-body system. The goal of this pilot study was to design a protocol that can investigate whether SK&P can lead to increased feeling of wellness in healthy volunteers. 

Participants were recruited in a small university city in Sweden and were instructed in a 6-day intensive program of SK&P which they practiced daily for six weeks. The control group was instructed to relax in an armchair each day during the same period. Subjects included a total of 103 adults, 55 in the intervention (SK&P) group and 48 in the control group. Various instruments were administered before and after the intervention. Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale measured the degree of anxiety and depression, Life Orientation Test measured dispositional optimism, Stress and Energy Test measured individual's energy and stress experiences. Experienced Deviation from Normal State measured the experience of altered state of consciousness. 

There were no safety issues. Compliance was high (only 1 dropout in the SK&P group, and 5 in the control group). Outcome measures appeared to be appropriate for assessing the differences between the groups. Subjective reports generally correlated with the findings from the instruments. The data suggest that participants in the SK&P group, but not the control group, lowered their degree of anxiety, depression and stress, and also increased their degree of optimism (ANOVA; p < 0.001). The participants in the yoga group experienced the practices as a positive event that induced beneficial effects. 

These data indicate that the experimental protocol that is developed here is safe, compliance level is good, and a full scale trial is feasible. The data obtained suggest that adult participants may improve their wellness by learning and applying a program based on yoga and yogic breathing exercises; this can be conclusively assessed in a large-scale trial. 

Australian Clinical Trial Registry ACTRN012607000175471.

The Voice of The Body

“It is a common belief that we breathe with our lungs alone, but in point of fact, the work of breathing is done by the whole body. The lungs play a passive role in the respiratory process. Their expansion is produced by an enlargement, mostly downward, of the thoracic cavity and they collapse when that cavity is reduced. Proper breathing involves the muscles of the head, neck, thorax, and abdomen. It can be shown that chronic tension in any part of the body's musculature interferes with the natural respiratory movements.

Breathing is a rhythmic activity. Normally a person at rest makes approximately 16 to 17 respiratory incursions a minute. The rate is higher in infants and in states of excitation. It is lower in sleep and in depressed persons. The depth of the respiratory wave is another factor which varies with emotional states. Breathing becomes shallow when we are frightened or anxious. It deepens with relaxation, pleasure and sleep. But above all, it is the quality of the respiratory movements that determines whether breathing is pleasurable or not. With each breath a wave can be seen to ascend and descend through the body. The inspiratory wave begins deep in the abdomen with a backward movement of the pelvis. This allows the belly to expand outward. The wave then moves upward as the rest of the body expands. The head moves very slightly forward to suck in the air while the nostrils dilate or the mouth opens. The expiratory wave begins in the upper part of the body and moves downward: the head drops back, the chest and abdomen collapse, and the pelvis rocks forward.

Breathing easily and fully is one of the basic pleasures of being alive. The pleasure is clearly experienced at the end of expiration when the descending wave fills the pelvis with a delicious sensation. In adults this sensation has a sexual quality, though it does not induce any genital feeling. The slight backward and forward movements of the pelvis, similar to the sexual movements, add to the pleasure. Though the rhythm of breathing is pronounced in the pelvic area, it is at the same time experienced by the total body as a feeling of fluidity, softness, lightness and excitement.

The importance of breathing need hardly be stressed. It provides the oxygen for the metabolic processes; literally it supports the fires of life. But breath as "pneuma" is also the spirit or soul. We live in an ocean of air like fish in a body of water. By our breathing we are attuned to our atmosphere. If we inhibit our breathing we isolate ourselves from the medium in which we exist. In all Oriental and mystic philosophies, the breath holds the secret to the highest bliss. That is why breathing is the dominant factor in the practice of Yoga.” 

― Alexander Lowen