The Alchemy of Breath - Integrative therapeutic breathing Written by Kim Kemper

Alchemy: process of transmuting a common substance of little value, into a substance of great value.

Integrative breathing uses a diaphragmatic breath, originating in the lower abdomen as a conscious unification of the inhalation and exhalation without pause. Setting up a circuit to clear previously blocked breathing patterns.

For centuries we have used breath work to facilitate change and traverse through stages awareness. The breath is automatic. We take more than 20,000 breaths a day, yet we easily take it for granted. The majority of us don’t experience our full capacity. But, if we did, we could vastly improve our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Negative emotions have an immediate affect on breathing. Do you remember the way your breathing changed when you last lost your temper, were startled by a loud sound, felt over whelmed or wanted to cry but didn’t feel safe? When we are overloaded with stress and tension our tendency is to breathe in a shallow way, hold our breath or use our shoulders to facilitate a “breath.” Integrative breathing provides an opportunity to restore balance by releasing and clearing these previously installed negative breath patterns.

I like the analogy of a winding river where it curves or changes directions, or where other streams enter it, it may slow down, become stagnant, and accumulate sediment. This process of sedimentation interrupts the flow and creates a build up of stagnant energy. Integrative breathing can help us remove stagnation and open the flow of these energy channels. As we open, dislodge and release the impurities that hide within us, we improve our health and well-being. We are then able to respond to life from the present moment verses reacting unconsciously from past experiences.

Stress, emotion and mood influence our fascia and the connective tissue in our body. In Louis Shultz and Rosemary Feitis book The Endless Web: Fascial Anatomy and Physical Reality they discuss how our emotions are stored within the body, including the connective tissue.

“The physical response to emotion is through the soft tissue,” they write. “The fascia is the emotional body. Ideally, feelings are felt in the total body—emotions travel through the fascial web. We then interpret the physiological sensation as anger, affection, love, interest and so forth... The reason your neck can’t straighten and lengthen may be because of the shock of being continually bullied in childhood. Physical work will only partially open that problem unless there is recognition that there may be an emotional origin.”

This style of breath work that I’ve developed over the past 25 years, offers the opportunity to move beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary for those ready to take the plunge. A safe, sacred space is created to open to receive life fully through the gift of breath. We cannot change the past, but we can change our response to it and the stories that we tell - each limitation becomes a challenge, an opportunity for growth.

"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.- Thich Nhat Hnh


** Join Kim at our Lambertville studio on 9/12 1:30pm - 5:30pm for her Connect With Breath workshop and witness the benefits of your breath for yourself.