Last night at some point during judo and jiu jitsu I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. It is not the first time. The muscles near the rotator cuff/scapula connect to those in and along the spine. It often happens in jiu jitsu when the neck is forced/cranked that pain can shoot down from the spine along the shoulder. It usually takes a few days to recover. So, I rolled light at the end of training and will take today off. The cold shower last night after training (at the gym) was very cold, but very manageable. I take back what I said about the showers at the gym being warmer than home.
Today the breathing practice and cold shower went well. I am starting to hone in on the rhythm of the breathing. In an effort to organize my thoughts more clearly I will try breaking down the observations into sections.
I followed the advice of a fellow practitioner who participated in a Wim Hof seminar and found massive benefits from the instruction. I like to find different postures and movements to perform during/between the scheduled breathing. There are three types of breathing that I am practicing to complete one set. Today I did three sets.
Part 1 : Full exhale – This is a warm-up. It consists of 15 fully exhaled breaths. The exhale is fully emphasised; I don’t force the inhale, but relax and allow my lungs to refill until I feel pressure in the diaphragm. The technique is performed in yoga table top, downward dog position, or seated. I find that I can engage my diaphragm fully, on the exhale, when I am able to curl my chin down and round my back. It is only when I am in this curled position that I feel that I can fully empty my lungs.
This posture is great for the full exhale breathing, but not great for the deep breathing and breath hold because it is difficult to balance a fully engaged diaphragm while trying to avoid gasping. Maybe I can do this when I become more advanced.
Part 2 : Full inhale – This is the heart of the technique. 30 deep breaths. The notes that have helped include inhaling as if you are about to blow up a balloon, breathe in a circle in and out, and to take about the same time, two seconds each, for inhale and exhale. These 30 deep, or power breaths are what charge your body with O2. I perform these laying flat on my back. I try to relax and count the breaths on my fingers. At 30, I take two long slow inhales and exhales. On the second exhale I hold. Following the hold, I inhale and hold for 15 seconds and then breathe easy, noting specific sensations in the body.
Part 3 : Breath of Fire – After calming myself down I sit up and perform the breath of fire breathing for a few minutes. This stresses the diaphragm and causes the mind to focus on the breath. It is not easy, but will improve with practice. Here is an example:
After Part 3, the cycle begins again with some light yoga movement.
Cold Shower : After three cycles it’s time for the cold shower. I put the shower on full blast cold and slowly step in. The past few days I have increased my time spent in the shower and reduced the fight or flight response caused by the cold water by breathing calmly and counting. As I inhale I count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 [pause] exhale 1, 2, 3, 4 [pause] and then inhale 2, 2, 3, 4, 5 [pause] etc. This allows me to measure my time spent in the shower and remain calm.
I do try and stand under the water so that it lands on the more sensitive parts of my body: my shoulders, armpits, and head. I rotate around slowly and then just shower as I normally would after a minute or two under the water when I’ve fully embraced the cold and am sure to have calmed my breathing. After the shower, I usually make some tea and have breakfast.
|Observations:||Breathing Practice||Cold Shower|
|Part 1 – Exhale||Part 2 – Inhale||Part 3 – Fire|
|Physical||Tingling in feet/ankles when seated.
More difficult to focus and stay still when in tabletop or down dog.
|Cold sensation in ears around 20 breaths.
Tingling fingers around 25 breaths.
Visual lights around 30.
|Exhale pushes so hard that the inhale happens without effort. It almost feels like letting go is the way to inhale.||Most sensitive around shoulders and armpits.
Started shivering around 5 min.
Part way through shower, noticed colors seemed more vivid
|Mental||Easy to forget count.
Easy to lose concentration.
|Fully focused on breath and count.||Fully focused on breath.||Calm today. No aggression.|
|Measurable||Holds – 1:15, 1:30, 1:48||Approx. 5 min|
|Variables||Maybe audible cues on exhale will help retain focus.||Better performed while laying back.
Not able to exhale as fully as when seated.
Use phone stopwatch for timing the hold.
|Seated position is best for this.||Will use phone to time length going forward.
Timing conducted using inhale 5s, exhale 4s, w/ pause. Each breath cycle = 10sec
The calm slow breathing does seem to subconsciously continue long after I’ve exited the shower. It seems as though the practice of slow controlled breathing gets locked in by the cold.