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We can last 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water but only 3 minutes without air. We need to breathe to carry on living, yet breathing is far more than just taking in oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide. It is the vehicle that allows us to connect the mechanisms of our body.

In all forms of exercise breathing is key to performance, yet it is far more than just a power house to allow us to work harder or lift more weight!

Yoga means union, specifically the union of body and mind, but it is breath that makes the connection between the two. Without the breath, Yoga is empty and devoid of life.

In Tai chi the movements are fluid and beautiful, but only when connected by the breath. Without breathing they are staccato and tense and feel wrong.

In Systema the breath connects everything. It is the foundation stone upon which the other key principles rest and without it there is no smooth movement or fluid escapes. There is no relaxation or structure or the ability to move. It is wrong to say control the breath, this implies we have control over whether to breathe or not – ultimately, we do not. We can hold our breath until we pass out, but at that moment the body re-exerts control and we breathe again. In Systema we remain mindful of the breath and we guide it in the way that best suits us. It is a vehicle that we can mindfully use to create smooth relaxed movement and fluidity, even in the most stressful conditions.

That is why during most of my classes, you will hear me say breathe!!!

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