Dinah Bradley & The Slow Breathing Movement

  • 21 July 2011

The first time I paid a visit to nutrition super hero – and now author – Dr. Libby Weaver many years ago, she told me that in many cases, the key to weight loss is as simple as “learning how to breathe properly.” After meeting Dinah Morrison (nee Bradley) I’ve discovered that it’s the key to many things, and essential to having true quality of life.

I first became aware of Dinah’s work around twenty years ago; when as a university student I had an ongoing series of seemingly unexplainable ailments. I was finally referred to a physiotherapist, who diagnosed me with a breathing disorder. She handed me a book to read called Hyperventilation Syndrome/Breathing Pattern Disorders, the author of which was Dinah. After “re-learning” how to breathe over a series of months my symptoms disappeared completely, and I became aware of exactly how much a simple breath in – and out – affects me.

When I meet Dinah many years later it’s at Breathing Works, the first independent Breathing Pattern Disorders clinic in Australasia, which she founded along with Tania Clifton-Smith. Before assessing my own breathing, she confesses that she sees bad breathers everywhere, blaming everything from stress to the gym - the cult of clenching in the abs 24/7 – but says that habits are really quite easy to break when you know how.
She asks me to assume “beach pose” – on my back, hands on my head – which isn’t as easy as it sounds when you get as tense as I do. My neck stiffened and I raised my head to meet my hands, which is hardly the approach I would hope to take if I was on a towel in Fiji! With practice though this can improve, and by my third visit I’m quite the dab hand and feeling all the better for it.

She also talks about how to get in the habit of doing a “neck check”: watching out for forward loading of your head (chook neck) while you’re at your keyboard. Feel the muscles on the front of your neck, then release tension by sitting up straight then gliding your head back until your ears are in line with your shoulders. Sit with your hands behind your head for 30 seconds and breathe through your nose low and slow before feeling the release of tension as you lower your arms. Check this every hour if you can, you’d be surprised at how tight you get.

Breathing is a tool we all have, one of such simplicity that its power is easily overlooked. This tool doesn’t cost a thing, is simple and available to everyone and can be accessed anytime and anywhere. It is, without a doubt, among the most effective antidotes to stress and a key component to wellbeing that we human beings possess. 

Not breathing properly equates to stopping or slowing down the flow of energy through our system. The body no longer receives the oxygen it needs to function properly, to eliminate toxins and mobilize the internal organs. The Chinese Daoist master Yu Wen once said ‘Energy being like water, stagnation leads to decay.’ In other words, if we stop the flow of oxygen through our body, inevitably stagnation and illness ensue.

I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to see Dinah to see if you’re breathing tool is on track - she’ll see where you’re at, give you the tools and then it’s up to you how – and if – you use them.

I saw Dinah at her clinic in the fabulous re:ab on Selbourne Street, and you can find more about her work here

Now… have you been breathing while you’ve been reading this? No? Then get to it!

Helene Ravlich,

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