In my last newsletter I introduced the concept of a developmental perspective to breath work, Shape Flow breathing. Awareness of the impact of the growing and shrinking process of breath on the shape of our body changes our relationship to ourself.
Grow and Shrink
The shape of our breathing influences the shape of our body and the space around us. Because it is a precursor to movement into space and our environment, Shape-Flow supports a way of organizing body level choices so you can feel more confident and coordinated.
In general, our comfort and comfort seeking behaviors are associated with Growing and our discomfort is associated with Shrinking. When you focus on breathing from one aspect of your body into another, one pole to another, this is called Unipolar Shape-Flow Breathing.
Because we move towards pleasurable stimuli expressing feelings of attraction and away from noxious stimuli expressing feelings of repulsion, Unipolar Shape-Flow plays an important role in the development of relationships. We move towards comforting people and away from threatening people.
For the following explorations I recommend you try at least three inhalations and exhalations.
Unipolar Shape-Flow Breathing: Three Experiences
Just as Bipolar Shape-Flow is an underlying support for stability, Unipolar Shape-Flow provides the foundation for mobility. One grows towards an attractive stimuli, and shrinks (withdraws) from a noxious or repulsive stimuli.
Our ability to express feelings of attraction and repulsion in unipolar shape flow plays an important role in the development of relationships with others, and self.
Through unipolar breathing in our widening and narrowing we become reacquainted with the 2 sides of our body and gain a sense of the mid-line which divides the two.
Widen one side of your body away from your midline
Lean into a friend at your side
Narrow one side towards the midline
Pull away from someone sitting too close on the subway
Unipolar lengthening and shortening helps us become familiar with the upper and lower parts of our body via our spine and helps us in climbing and sitting.
Send your breath to your head – grow tall
Send your breath to your tail – take a stair down backwards
Send your breath to your head – imagine you have a whale spout and are sending water out the top of your head
Send your breath to your tail –shrink be small, duck your head
We become re-connected with the front and back of our bodies by paying attention to our bulging and hollowing processes. This process is intrinsic to mastering walking and moving forward and backward.
Bulge the front surface of your body – Puff out as if to say “Oh yeah?”
Bulge the back surface of your body – Lean, or snuggle into someone.
Hollow the front surface of your body to your spine – imagine you have your favourite sweater on and someone with sticky hands is going to touch you
Hollow the back surface of your body to your spine – someone pokes you in the back
The experience of receiving care, attention and love via Unipolar Shape-Flow helps us define our self image. Growing in a Unipolar fashion bridges to others and builds relationships. Shrinking Unipolarly creates separation (and greater contact with self). Breathing this way facilitates mobility.
Shape-Flow breathing is an underlying support for moving into space.
In my next newsletter we will explore how this is possible.