What Do You Mean I’m Not Breathing! I’m A Bloody Yoga Teacher.
Several years ago when I was working at a wellness convention where Douglas Heel was presenting I came across the oddest spectacle in a Lecture Theatre. Two grown men were locked in an embrace and one of them was singing a nursery rhyme. The singing man was then enticed onto a table where he was subjected to a concept called ‘Be Activated.’ The other fella was Douglas Heel. He exuded charisma and devilment in equal measure. Unbeknown to me at the time this crazy concept would influence me greatly.
I watched with amusement as Douglas massaged the man who’d by now replaced his song with prayer and profanity. I felt worried for him as he writhed and cursed. and as Douglas playfully dismissed his protestations. As he worked, he explained that the body will blow a fuse when it’s overloaded. He said something along the lines of… ‘I’m rebooting this body and putting the fuses back in.
‘I wanted to lean in, hear more.’
The man on the table took a massive breath and suddenly went quiet. He tentatively slid off the table and weirdly strutted. He looked genuinely surprised as he marvelled at whatever sensations he was experiencing. I heard something about a 123 system of assessment, imploded bodies, cheat patterns and compensations. My curiosity was piqued. I wanted to lean in, hear more but the radio in my pocket crackled and I was called away. The following year I was back and so was Douglas. As luck would have it I was working on lectures and I managed to attend his full presentation. He didn’t disappoint. After the lecture I asked Doug if he would take a look at my painful shoulder. The ensuing five minutes went something like this…
DOUGLAS: (arms folded, grinning) ‘There is no point in looking at your shoulder, neck, hip or anything else because your diaphragm isn’t working properly.’ He poked me in the ribs and delivered three words in a clipped South African accent. One word for each prod. ‘You’re – not – breathing!’
ME: ‘I’m a bloody yoga teacher.’ I teach people how to breathe.’
DOUGLAS: (still grinning) That explains it. ‘The way you speak, the way you hold yourself, the way you move clearly says that you are not using your diaphragm.’
While I stood absorbing this, he offered to ‘activate’ me. I accepted. It was the worst three minutes I’ve ever experienced in a public corridor. (Apart from that one time as a student nurse but hey, I was young) Anyhow, ‘activate’ me he did, right there on the ground by the escalator, and all he did was rub his fingers along my ribcage and sternum. I believed he was using a razor and a mallet (I am prone to exaggeration but this was bloody intense) when I opened my eyes he was wasn’t exerting himself in the slightest. I remember feeling, or hearing a ‘pop’ in my solar plexus as I took my first proper full breath. (Now referred to as my Lazarus moment.) I thought that I’d cracked a rib but as it turns out they were moving for the first time in who knows how long. The escalator became super-loud. My eyes hurt as brighter light seared them. Colours became ridiculously vivid. The changes were rapid, overwhelming. I choked back the lump in my throat because I didn’t want to cry.
‘I realised that something very important had happened.’
I eventually dropped below all of the emotion and discomfort and that’s when I felt what was going on.’ I was actually breathing properly, intoxicated by oxygen, I was off my head. I saw things differently, colour, light, shiny people, it was all a bit psychedelic Douglas brought my attention to the fact that my voice had dropped. It sounded softer, felt velvety. It was wonderful. These sensations continued throughout the day. I was happy, confused, freaked!! And then it came, without warning… THE RELEASE. A bumble bee landing on a dandelion, losing my (horrible) work T-shirt, a warm smile from a stranger. Anything and nothing reduced me to a tearful wreck. My colleagues quickly replaced empathy with eye rolling; I was useless to them. Later, after I regained my composure, although my friends said that I was pathetic. I hugged Douglas and tried to tell him what was happening but I just blathered like an incoherent eejit.
The most important change was yet to be realised.
My breath was easy. My ribs could move. I lay in bed that night not wanting to sleep because I was afraid that this feeling would disappear. I felt so well. The next big change was that the spasm in my pelvic floor had also released. I didn’t realise this immediately but over the next few days It was obvious.
Who knew! Everything is connected!
I’d been involved in a road traffic accident a few years previous. I’d injured my shoulder and my pelvis and I’d experienced constant pain, fear and worse than that, I’d developed incontinence. Coughing, sneezing and jumping were now categorised as dangerous activities and tragically I hadn’t dared to roar with laughter for a couple years. My ‘condition’ was written off by my GP as a ‘woman of my age’ thing. I was 45 at the time. It was depressing and it was bullshit. I didn’t have a problem before I hit the deck and guess what, normal service quickly resumed after my diaphragm was released. Aside from all of the other wonderful stuff that activation did for me, this was the best news ever. Imagine, I could run amok, be bold, continue with my plan to age disgracefully. I cannot begin to tell you the relief I felt in knowing that my pelvic floor was functioning properly. The finer details of which can not be retold here.
To finish this piece… I’ve witnessed some amazing things at the hands of Douglas Heel and this incredible technique. I’ve had vey good results both with myself and with the people I’ve been treating but today, I had a wow moment. I worked on a beautiful young woman who had an incredibly powerful release. After she wiped away her tears and declared her undying love to me, I could lean into her because I knew, I knew something of what she’d experienced.
I’m loving this journey. It’s been personally painful and very difficult at times but so far it has been worth it. The Be Activated Philosophy is immense. The technique is powerful and I’m not even close to figuring it all out.