I have been introduced to a new form of mental torture: Rotational Breathing.
The first instruction given to me was to direct my breath into the so quaintly called "collapsed side". Easier said than done my friend. It takes a large amount of mental effort to move air into a specific part of the body. It made me go cross-eyed standing there and focusing on getting air moving down past the lungs and off to the right, expanding the ribcage on my compressed side.
Next I was told to try to keep the breath in that place for as long as possible while exhaling slowly. I found employing a 'ssss' sound helped make my out breath last longer. I try to imagine my right side is the bottom of a full balloon that I am slowly emptying from the top.
Okay, fine and dandy. Got it. That was in week 1 and I got rather complacent about the whole breathing thing.
Then came week 2 and the rotational part. As air is being exhaled, I am to direct it up and around my left ribcage, while still keeping air expanded in my right side. I find it a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. the image that helped was to think of the air going up one of those long, narrow curved stairways you find in ancient cathedrals and castles.
The idea of rotational breathing is to expand the part of the ribcage that has shortened and dipped and misshapened, and to try to shift the other side of the ribcage into a more 'normal' position. At the moment the ribs on my left side are rotated around, resulting in a raised bit on the left side of my back, which I'd rather not say is a 'hump' but it is, so there you are.
To help me get the hang of it, one of the physios. would grasp my back on my left side as I breathed in to my right side, then they'd press hard and up as if pushing my ribs forward and up around to where they should be, in the front of my body, while I let out my long sibilant exhalation. I closed my eyes to try and imagine what I hoped was going on with my breath, moving around and upward with each long exhalation.
I invariably find myself unconsciously shifting my jaw to the right everytime I breath in, as if in sympathy and as if it would help! Nice to think the rest of my body is emapthetic.
What with breathing into my compressed side, and this new rotational breathing, as well as abdominal breathing for singing, side breathing for yoga and pilates, and my daily keigels, I am left quite breathless!