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  • Writer's pictureRachel Yona Shalev

On Breath, Yogic Breathing and the Rosen Method

The quality of our breath reflects our life force, vitality, and emotional/physical well being. Breath which is shallow, superficial, short, or limited will be paralleled in our energy levels and how we live our life. ( small, shallow breath= living smaller, lower potentials of ourselves.)

Many of us carry trauma, physical pain, mental states, or habits (old or inherited) which affect our breath. You may notice that when you are stressed, afraid, or even intently focused on something, you may hold your breath for a few moments or perhaps you stop breathing altogether.

When we stop breathing or limit our breathing so that we are breathing only what's needed to keep ourselves going (i.e.: survival breathing) our entire mind/body system receives reduced oxygen, making us less relaxed and more stressed. Our digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems don't function optimally, even our skin starts to sag and wrinkle. We feel exhausted, unhappy and uninspired. All this because our breath, our INSPIRATION, is not doing what it can for us.

Everyone should know about a possibility of breathing which is full, smooth, wide and deep, expansive and fluid. Breath can move from our belly and diaphragm into our chest and shoulders, filling the entire rib cavity front to back. When you are breathing this way, you are also living this way; a fuller and more complete version of yourself.

As newly born babies, we were pure, pulsating breath. Have you ever held an infant in your hands and noticed how every centimeter of this miraculous being is alive with breath and energy? Growing up in this world, no one is immune to experiences which cause pain, loss, fear, grief, confusion, etc. With each negative experience, we contract slightly, unconsciously somewhere deep inside of ourselves. The contraction is on a soul/ emotional level, created with the best of intentions to protect us from emotional pain.

However, with time, our bodies learn to carry these contractions in the form of stiff muscles, stomach pain, head aches, digestive, sexual, and/ or sleep disorders, and the list goes on. Where there is body contraction, the breath is also contracted and limited. And so this cycle continues and accumulates. At some point, it becomes normal to drag ourselves throughout our day, to caffein-ate regularly in order to stay alert, to take various prescription or non prescription medication, to use sugar as an energy/ mood boost, etc. A long, familiar list of behaviors, habits and addictions.

Is Massage, Yoga, Yogic breathing enough?

A quality Yoga class will teach you proper breathing. You can learn to maximize your breathing capacities and significantly improve your quality of life, just by breathing!Learning to do this for yourself is a valuable tool for self healing; one that I use on a daily basis.

But when we are talking about patterns of emotional 'holding' in the system, we are talking about parts of ourselves that became 'frozen' or contracted sometime in our past; parts that have accumulated and built up over the years, existing now as 'chronic conditions'. The result is a wide variety of symptoms, both emotional and physical.

By massaging and manipulating the contracted, stiff areas, we can get some much needed relief from our physical pain. However, the old patterns which created the contractions in the first place kick back into their protective role at the first chance they get. That tight or painful shoulder, low back, neck, etc. could return perhaps a mere few hours or days after that deep massage. Similarly, after a great yoga/ breathing session, you will feel relaxed, open and expansive - until the old patterns creep back in, making the breath 'small' again.

In order to locate and treat the root of your contractions, you will need to go deeper

than practicing breathing techniques. As balancing and rejuvenating as they are, there is a limitation to these practices in terms of healing deep emotional pain.

Old, accumulated, mostly unconscious traumas need to be located, met, touched and acknowledged. There are various modalities available where such a process of healing can occur; where one can experience true freedom and spaciousness of body mind and soul.

What is The Rosen Method?

The Rosen Method is a Somatic Body Work which focuses specifically on this kind of healing. The primary diagnostic tool of a Rosen practitioner is the natural, authentic breath of the patient. The practitioner locates areas in the patient's body where the breath is shallow or almost imperceptible. These areas are often found around chronic muscle contraction and stiffness. The 'Rosen touch' is gentle and highly sensitive, making contact with the innermost essence of the patient. There is a deep listening in each session; to words, tones, facial expressions and subtle body responses. New awarenesses open up as the chronic contractions are met non judgmentally, with love and compassion. When this happens, the patients breath becomes more free and open. This is a wonderful experience, often accompanied by an exciting sense of new possibilities

Joy, spaciousness, and freedom of body and mind are typical results of a professional Rosen session.

How has the Rosen Method changed me and my Yoga practice?

As a direct result of my personal journey through Rosen method treatments, my yoga/ breathing sessions have been greatly enriched. When I breath into areas once heavily armored by protective patterns, I'm met with an unobstructed flow of energy. There is an immediate and powerful response to any breathing practice, even in 5-10 minute sessions. I attribute this to a beautiful synthesis between the Rosen Method, and decades of using breath as a healing modality.

Years of Rosen training have also made it possible for me to 'see' and 'meet' my Yoga students with their individual needs, both physical and emotional. I can perceive the quality of their breathing and where their bodies are contracted. Most importantly, I can approach them from a non judgmental place of love and compassion.

Giving Rosen treatments is a sacred experience of meeting another in their most vulnerable and authentic place. I get to feel the unique magnificent being that each person truly is. Not unlike in yoga, I get to continue practicing the ancient wisdom of being in the moment from one breath to the next, while lovingly accepting what is, moment to moment.

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