Max Strom

Breath and tears never come empty-handed. When we do breath work, it brings insight and memory.

Working with the breath or Pranayama ( प्राणायाम) is regarded as one of the most powerful and essential practices in yoga. As the bridge between the body and mind, the breath is considered a fundamental tool that allows us access to our vital energy or prana (प्राण). 

One of the first innovators of Vinyasa Yoga in nineties California, Max Strom is an internationally respected authority on the body-breath connection.  By harnessing the energetic, healing potential of the breath, Max Strom has developed a powerful breath-centric method that addresses energetic and emotional imbalances.

In conversation with the expert, we explore the transformative power of breath to heal our bodies, emotions, and in the process, re-discover a profound connection with ourselves. 

THE MODERN CONDITION

MAX STROM

These days, there’s a strange new definition of normal. We treat emotions as if they’re a problem and medicate them away. 

“If you look at how society is now”, observes Strom, “we have 25-30% of people taking anti-depressants, anxiety drugs, sleep dysfunction medicine. That’s a third of our society, a third of adults.” As a symptom of our modern condition, we live in a world that neglects and suppresses perceived “negative” emotions. This is a direct response to growing expectations placed upon individuals to achieve, succeed and thrive, in the frenetic pace of modern life.

cause and effect

i. ISOLATION

The manifestation of these symptoms are the direct result of two main ills of the modern condition. The first being the most common experience of isolation. Strom elaborates, “ People are feeling isolated now more than ever. This goes against the common narrative that we’re all so connected now, via Social Media etc. And we are, but at a very superficial level. What people aren’t doing anymore, is being in the presence of each other, making eye contact, laughing together, hearing each others voices, reading each others body language”.

 

ii. SUPPRESSION

The next cause of our emotional imbalances relates to the consistent neglect, or suppression, of our emotions. In modern society, Strom observes, “when we suppress grief, it comes out as anxiety. The funny thing about anxiety, is that we act like we caught it from shaking someone’s hand like we caught a cold or something”. Speaking about our modern culture of treating medication as a solution, Strom states, “It’s easier to take a pill, than do the work. It’s socially acceptable”. Considering the profound influence of our emotions on our state of health, Strom asserts, “the only way out of grief and anxiety, is through”.

 

 

 

Anxiety is a really big one now. But anxiety is a symptom. Its symptoms can include panic attacks, compulsive disorders, grinding the teeth at night, and other PTSD syndromes like hypervigilance.

 


 

 

We are not taught anything about how to handle our emotions. This is one of the biggest wounds of our society.

THE POWER OF BREATH

MAX STROM

We accumulate and store negative emotions like anxiety, depression and anger in the body. When we do daily breath work, it prevents us from storing these emotions and can release deep seated, held emotions.

 

To work with the breath is to open up the possibility of transformation. Conscious breathing as advocated by Strom, offers a channel to accessing our deepest and innermost emotions. This, is where meaningful transformation begins. Conscious breathing helps to calm the nervous system, and draw the energetic and physical body into closer harmony. Drawing from numerous holistic systems such as Qigong, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Strom’s method works with the physical body to access the body’s subtle energies and release latent emotional blockages.

BREATHiNG TO FEEL

MAX STROM

Your happiness is often predicated on the degree to which you are willing to let go of (and not bury) the past.

 

AN INTRODUCTION TO BREATHING

 

To begin working with the breath is to open oneself up the possibility of transformation. Below are a list of techniques and advice to start a breathing practice. 

▪ Strom recommends each person practice a 10 minute breathing session everyday, working up to an ideal length of 30 minutes.

▪ When practicing breath work, Strom borrows techniques from the Chinese practice of Qigong and encourages his students to practice conscious breathing in a standing position.

▪ Practice Gratitude. Described by Cicero as “the parent of all virtues”, gratitude is a powerful emotion that can change one’s internal state.

▪ Make sleep a priority, because that is how the body heals itself.

▪ Work with Visualisation. Below is an excerpt of an exercise practiced with Strom:

Visualise someone that you have the most gratitude for in this world. Breathe slowly and deeply as that person that comes to mind. Visualise that they’re right in front of you. Breathe deeply and notice she/he is deeply breathing with you. Radiate gratitude towards this person. Radiate gratitude as though it were your last opportunity. And she /he nods to you, affirming your eternal connection, and reaches to you and touches you. Take a deep breath. Now keep this feeling, but let this image disappear. And when you’re ready, open your eyes.

 

 

The incorporation of breath work into your daily practice is the first step towards creating a more fulfilling and sustainable way of living.  As a keen advocate of  using breath work to support one’s emotional and mental health, Strom observes that it is through our breath, that we begin our journey towards better self-awareness and understanding.  “After all”, he continues, “the one thing we have most influence over, is the person looking back at us in the mirror each morning”.

 

BIOGRAPHY

 

Max Strom is a global teacher, speaker and author in personal transformation, spirituality and yoga. His workshops and methods utilise breathing to deal directly with stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. His Inner Axis Method incorporates well-being exercises, breath-work, and breath-based yoga movement that have been featured in many conferences across the world. Following its success, his interdisciplinary method has been implemented as sustainable mindfulness program by numerous organisations that want to not only be successful, but healthy, and to make a meaningful difference in the world. Max Strom has also authored two books; A Life Worth Breathing, and There is No APP for Happiness. His most recent title addresses the challenge of finding meaning in the digital age.

His instructional audio and visual programs can also be purchased and downloaded from his site.


Credits- Bodysuit – Wolford, Bralette – Hanro, Bottoms – Ward Whillas