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Breathe easy: A simple solution for stress

August 22, 2012
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Do you feel the need to distress, increase your energy levels and improve your overall health? The answer could be right under your nose… With a successful film career spanning three decades, a happy personal life and a fabulously sunny personality, Goldie Hawn can breathe easily. But she also has a secret weapon. “I use transformational breathing to manage stress,” she has revealed.

For years, Goldie has been a fan of the complementary therapy, said to promote optimal health and supply extra energy and vitality. And she is so impressed with the results that she has recommended it to her actress daughter, Kate Hudson. We breathe subconsciously and automatically so we take it for granted, but champions of transformational breathing say that most of us only use 25 per cent of our lung capacity, leaving us prey to stress, low energy, constant tiredness and even a weakened immune system. The answer, they say, is to use your lungs fully; the difference will amaze you. “It’s like going from black-and-white to full-colour, high-definition TV,” says Alan Dolan, the UK’s leading practitioner and teacher of the technique. “We hear so much about people feeling tired all the time, but although we are told what to eat and how to exercise to have more energy, most people do not realise that 75 per cent of our energy comes from the breath.” A former super-stressed, high-powered but, in his own words, unhappy PR director in the aerospace industry, Alan discovered the power of his own breath when he visited Dr Judith Kravitz, a leading US proponent and teacher.

He says the technique can deliver 70-80 per cent more oxygen to the body, improving mental clarity and energy levels, relaxing and calming, enhancing athletic performance and even helping to clear “emotional baggage”. “People hold past sorrows, stresses and emotional pain within, and a session of transformational breathing with a practitioner can help to release those emotions,” he says. Easy to master with expert help, this is a very deep, cyclical breathing technique that fills the lungs so that the stomach rises and falls, without a pause after either the in-breath or the out-breath. Unlike normal breathing, air is taken in through the mouth so that the maximum amount of oxygen gets into the lungs. The benefits are said to be two-fold: you feel a real natural high, and the concentration required frees your mind so that you enter an almost meditative state. You can master the technique in an hour-long, one-to-one session with a teacher, then practise at home whenever you need extra energy or feel stressed. “That’s what I truly love about it – its power,” says Alan.

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