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Conscious Connected Breathing
Is it possible to improve our mental and physical health simply by changing the way we breathe? According to Alan Dolan, the Breath Guru, it certainly is. Most of us use only 20-25% of our respiratory capacity because we breathe from the top of our chests. As our normal breathing pattern doesn’t use the entire lungs, we aren’t getting the full physical and mental benefits we could be achieving by engaging in “conscious connected breathing.” An advocate of this simple, effective practice, Alan Dolan, teaches the technique at an idyllic villa in the hillside village of Oasis de Nazaret on Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands. Lanzarote has had a bad rap, in part, thanks to a travel program with Michael Palin who described the island as “lanzagrotty.” If visions of lager louts and clubbers have put you off visiting, rest assured this stereotype couldn’t be more wrong. The landscape, with its 352 dormant volcanoes and sandy beaches, plus a mild climate (the island is only 60 miles from the coast of Africa), makes Lanzarote the ideal sunny getaway anytime of the year. And it’s the ideal setting for a mind and body retreat.
Who Is the Breath Guru?
Alan Dolan, founder of Breathguru® and breath coach, has spent 17 years changing people’s lives (not least his own) with the simple power of breathing. And his practice has gained many fans including actress Naomie “Miss Moneypenny” Harris who said “Alan Dolan is one of the best alternative practitioners/ breathworkers I’ve had the privilege to work with….I highly recommend him to any and everyone embarking on a journey of self discovery and/or looking for a way to live a happier, healthier and more peaceful life.” Likewise, comedian Russell Brand says “Alan does some amazing Breathwork and has an amazing App.”
The retreat is for small numbers (up to four people) in order for clients to have a bespoke experience and optimal individual attention. The villa is in a tranquil location on a hill with stunning panoramic views, guest rooms are mainly arranged around a lovely pool and hot tub; the ideal place for a mind and body retreat. The well thought out and very tasty vegetarian meals provided by a local chef are taken together in a serene dining room.
The program features twice-daily breath sessions, one session is one-on-one with Alan, the other is a group session. Using our lungs properly can have all sorts of surprising benefits, like reducing stress or even helping with medical conditions like high blood pressure. And it’s never too early or too late to make most of your respiratory capacity. At six weeks old, Alan’s youngest client was suffering from bad colic; his oldest so far was 86.
So what is conscious connected breathing? Simply put, conscious connected breathing involves breathing in through your mouth and out through your nose (the opposite of normal breathing). There’s an easy to follow demonstration on Alan’s website that makes the process very clear. Put one hand on your belly and one on your chest, between your collar bones. Breathe slowly and deeply from the diaphragm. Your belly should expand in an exaggerated way on the inhale, your top hand should be still. This is the sort of “horizontal” breath you should aim for. Now breathe incorrectly, to feel the contrast. Breathe upwards into the chest, so your top hand moves but your bottom hand is still. This is the “vertical” breathing you should try to eliminate. The reason to do this is to better fuel the body’s cells with oxygen so they work more efficiently. Alan’s clients say they have felt tangible benefits ranging from easing anxiety, depression and stress to elevated energy levels. Of course, when you remove yourself from the demands of everyday life in beautiful Lanzarote it’s easier to experience the benefits of breath work. The ideal outcome is to continue with the technique at home, either on your own or with the help of Alan’s online sessions. Fifteen minutes daily can have great long term effects.
A four night retreat in Lanzarote with Alan Dolan starts from £1140 GBP fully inclusive (except cost of flights). This includes accommodation, airport transfer, all meals, twice daily breathwork sessions and an arrival massage. Online breathwork packages are also available, including a free membership.