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Old 03-31-2010, 08:41 PM   #1
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
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068) Focus on Breathing: April 2010

The last time that I wrote about breathing was in November of 2008.  I asked students to develop some awareness of how breathing feels in our bodies.  I intentionally asked students to start off in a direction opposite of what I eventually ask students to do.  I did this as an easier way to develop body awareness associated with breathing.
We will spent this next month focusing on breathing as it relates to our waza.  I would like to start off with a basic breathing pattern.   It is very important that you maintain good posture, regardless of whether you are standing or sitting in seiza.  When you breathe in, I want you to relax your upper body and allow your diaphragm to expand downwards.  You should feel as though you are expelling a lung out through your colon!  You should literally feel your sphincter muscles experience outwards pressure.  As you are breathing in, I want you to feel as though your energy is being condensed into your bones and as though a plutonium ball develops in your hara.  When you exhale, I want you to allow your diaphragm to  naturally relax upwards as you expel the air from your lungs.  I want you to feel as though your body is being inflated by helium as you are exhaling.  You should feel as though the helium is inflating your skin out from your bones.
We will test each other to help us develop our breathing skills.  If a person is in seiza, we can push down on their shoulders as they are breathing.  When the person breathes in, we should feel a sinking in feeling, along with a sense of reaching a dense core.  When the person breathes out, we should feel a lightening and rising feeling.  We can experience the same things by grabbing a person’s wrist if the person is practicing the breathing while standing.  The next level of testing, will be the resting our arms on a person’s shoulders.  As we breathe, it should focus almost like a ratchet.  Neutral when we breathe in and down-force as we breathe out.
We will focus on how we breathe and/or hold our breath when we are attacked.  This is always a surprise to people, when they realize that they hold their breath more than they realize.  They can see how this directly related to unnecessary body tension and interfered with maintaining a connection with the attacker.  As we become more cognizant of our breathing, we will begin to realize how important proper breathing is in Aikido.  I hope that we can evolve this topic area to some more sophisticated aspects such as synchronizing our breathing with the opponent in order to disrupt the person’s breathing and ability to execute an effective attack.  We will definitely explore doing suwari waza, kokyu dosa WITHOUT engaging in the ridiculous wrestling that most people engage in.
Enjoy the month, and by all means, please do not stop breathing!
Marc Abrams Sensei


(Original blog post may be found here.)
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Old 04-01-2010, 07:40 AM   #2
MM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Re: 068) Focus on Breathing: April 2010

Breathing vs Structure

Hi Marc,

Just wondered about your thoughts on breathing practice as it relates to the body structure. For example, let's take a brand new person who doesn't have good body structure (head leans to one side often, upper shoulders are mostly tensed and not relaxed, upper spine bends or is crooked, etc) and add in breathing exercises. Do you find that the breathing exercises help, hinder, or do nothing in regards to progress with better body structure? aikido overall? On the flip side, do you think having a better structure helps, hinders, or does nothing with breathing exercises? Is there a point where one has to be more developed to get anything out of the other?

Thanks,
Mark
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Old 04-01-2010, 08:00 AM   #3
thisisnotreal
 
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Re: 068) Focus on Breathing: April 2010

Hi Marc:
What kinds of processes, physiologically, do you think are happening with, say, the mental imagery of helium that you presented?
-general opening of tense muscles (i.e. dissolving 'sticky' points/lines)
-generally dilating the blood vessels?
-filling/pressing on the 'membrane' - /fascia? A filling out, process?

I'm just wondering whats actually going on(?)

Cheers,
Josh
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Old 04-01-2010, 08:47 AM   #4
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
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Re: 068) Focus on Breathing: April 2010

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Breathing vs Structure

Hi Marc,

Just wondered about your thoughts on breathing practice as it relates to the body structure. For example, let's take a brand new person who doesn't have good body structure (head leans to one side often, upper shoulders are mostly tensed and not relaxed, upper spine bends or is crooked, etc) and add in breathing exercises. Do you find that the breathing exercises help, hinder, or do nothing in regards to progress with better body structure? aikido overall? On the flip side, do you think having a better structure helps, hinders, or does nothing with breathing exercises? Is there a point where one has to be more developed to get anything out of the other?

Thanks,
Mark
Mark:

Excellent questions! I personally think that these two issues are inseparable at a deeper level. In other words, try and stand, or sit in a position with bad posture. Try breathing deeply. The muscles that help to stabilize unbalanced positions can prevent our diaphragm from optimal functioning. It is fascinating to watch newborn infants breathe (I get to do this all over again with my second grandchild ). Infants breathe properly! Go Figure! It never ceases to amaze me how many times in the course of a day, I am having to focus on correcting my posture and breathing. It is no surprise that people come to our schools with bad structure and no awareness that their breathing patterns are not optimal. As students gain awareness of posture, body tensions, breathing patterns, etc., the possibility of actively changing opens up to them. I find that my students do develop better body structure when they link body structure to breathing and actively seek to optimize both areas. This can take some people quite a long time, because of a deep disconnect between their awareness and body experiences. On the flip side, when I correct body posture during breathing exercises, the students typically feel an immediate change in their ability to breathe deeper and easier.

What have your experiences been?

Regards,

Marc Abrams
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Old 04-01-2010, 08:50 AM   #5
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
United_States
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Re: 068) Focus on Breathing: April 2010

Quote:
Josh Phillipson wrote: View Post
Hi Marc:
What kinds of processes, physiologically, do you think are happening with, say, the mental imagery of helium that you presented?
-general opening of tense muscles (i.e. dissolving 'sticky' points/lines)
-generally dilating the blood vessels?
-filling/pressing on the 'membrane' - /fascia? A filling out, process?

I'm just wondering whats actually going on(?)

Cheers,
Josh
Josh: I really wish that I can subject this process to scientific exploration. Hooking a person up to some sophisticated equipment would be a hoot! My guess is that you hypotheses would be confirmed. I would also expect their to be some additional findings. I am trying to get a better handle of what they would likely be before I talk about them openly. I am actively trying to lessen the severity of my athlete's foot-in-the-mouth disease ! I would love to hear some feedback on that from people who are more "seasoned" than I am in these areas.

Regards,

Marc Abrams
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