Recently I attended a breathing workshop in London.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but had high hopes after reading the glowing reviews on the website; I wasn’t disappointed.
There were lots of us there, a mixture of young people in their twenties to a handful of those in late middle-age, men and women, and you could certainly feel the air of excitement and expectation in the room.
Alan, the ‘BreathGuru’, sat on a bolster at the front of the room, an unassuming man with a friendly face and a warm aura about him. He immediately put us at ease. There was no pretence, no ego, just him and his handful of female helpers, all middle-aged, all looking serene and relaxed. Just knowing that Alan and his assistants were all around my age (and probably up to 10 years older) made me feel I was in the right place, as often when attending yoga workshops I feel like the oldest swinger in town (imagine that, aged 50 years young!)
After everyone was settled, Alan proceeded to talk about the workshop and the importance of learning ‘conscious, connected breathing’. He told us that he’d been a yogi for many years but this technique we were about to experience was hands-on the most quick and effective method he’d ever found to relax people, to help with physical and emotional past blockages and to raise awareness of a higher spirituality as well as our own magnificent energy.
Alan asked for a volunteer to come and lie down at the front, and a lovely girl named Anna lay upon a yoga mat while we crowded around her.
He asked her to start breathing, and as soon as she did I immediately thought how effective her breathing was compared to my shallow, top body breathing (judging myself as usual!)
No matter though because Alan talked us through the way we would be breathing in the workshop and Anna demonstrated this clearly.
(I won’t go into the method here, but please look up conscious connected breathing for more insights on Google).
Anna returned to her mat and Alan told us we would now all begin.
I was nervous as I knew how shallow my breathing was, which was part of my reason for being there, but I wanted to see what happened so I lay on my back, with a blanket as a pillow, and under Alan’s dulcet direction we started breathing the way he’d just told us.
It felt very strange initially, but I was determined to persevere.
We stopped after about 5 or 10 minutes and then had an opportunity to ask questions.
After these were answered we were told to begin the breathwork once more (with feeling!)
I started again and was conscious of all the breathing going on around me, and some soothing music on in the background. I found myself getting into a rhythm with the breathing and soon forgot about the rest of the participants.
After a while Alan introduced sounds to the breathwork ‘make like Pavarotti’, he said, which I imagined I would cower away from but I embraced it, as did everyone else I assumed from the ‘aaaaahhh’s going on!
It felt wonderful!
And so it continued; breathing, sounds and back to breathing. Three times I had the pleasure of one of the assistants company as they helped me breathe better, and comforted us all if anything arose. Boy did it arise in me! I was shaking uncontrollably at one point, tingling in my hands and feet, and my stomach and head felt as it someone had clamped them.
I knew I was releasing ‘stuff’ that needed to go. I have no idea what it was as nothing specific came to my thoughts but I felt safe with someone there for me, knowing what I was going through and giving me acupressure, soothing words and generally comforting me.
Around me I was aware of people crying, laughing, chanting, going through their own personal journey which sounds horrendous but believe me whilst you’re in the midst of it you realise what a wondrous event was occurring.
At last, we were told to breathe normally, to ground ourselves and to take as much time as needed to sit up.
I was spaced out and stayed lying on my mat for a good 10 minutes.
I had no idea how long we had been breathing for, until Alan told us to our astonishment it had been 90 minutes!
I felt like it started a detox emotionally for me and spent the next day or two feeling rather deflated. However, after this my energy went through the roof, and I have continued with 15 minutes self-practice almost daily since then.
I can’t want to use this conscious connected breathing in my own Midlife Muses workshops, it will be such a help to so many stressed out women. So I will make time to learn to teach this method soon.
Happy breathing everyone!