Postural Respiration-Honolulu Hawaii. Thank you to my friend Randy Fukuji, PT who’s strong interest and passion is the primary reason we have been able to teach PRI on the beautiful islands of Hawaii over the last couple of years. And thank you to all the employees of the host clinic, Fukuji and Lum Physical Therapy Associates, for your kind hospitality and the Aloha Spirit I feel from each one of you each time I am with you. You guys are the best! And thank you to my lab assistant, Tina Haiser, PT, PRC for her expert assistance throughout the course.
I have been to Hawaii a few times and even taught Myokinematic Restoration on one trip, but on this trip, I learned that PRI is much more Hawaiian than I ever realized. In Hawaii, the word “ha” means breath, or the sacred breath of life that enlivens every living being and unites us as one in spirit. Kinda deep, but kinda cool. The word “aloha” is one of many Hawaiian words that contains “ha” in it. This word is a warm and gracious greeting, meaning both hello and goodbye. It also means love, affection, warmth, kindness, compassion, peace and mercy. When you say “aloha” to someone, you are expressing your warmth and kindheartedness toward them, and also acknowledging the sacred breath of life within them, affirming that their spirit is one with your spirit. Who knew Hawaiian hellos and goodbyes had such deep meaning?
When I began teaching Postural Respiration to these beautiful Hawaiian people, they soon saw the “ha” in our message. Attaining a state of exhalation on one side of the body to overcome pathological hyperinflation resonated with them. They understood saying goodbye to breath on one side of their body so they could say hello to breath on the other side of their body. It seemed to affirm something they already knew. It really came together for me when one of our gracious hosts and owner of the host site clinic, Art Lum, PT, stood up and expressed his desire to give each one of his patients an alo”ha” on the left side of their body so they can in turn realize alo”ha”, or the breath of life on the right side of their body. Wow. The truth and significance of what he was saying was powerful. I just stood there speechless for a few seconds, reflecting on some gems from my early PRI learning.
I thought back to some of my discussions about PRI breathing mechanics in my early years of mentorship with Ron Hruska. I remembered him saying, “James, this is not pursed lip breathing or powerful exhalation we are talking about. It is more like a complete sigh out or a long haaaaaa breath.” I thought I got it then, and maybe mechanically and neurologically I did get some of it. But the fuller meaning of this sacred word “ha” did not appear for me until this last weekend. Words like “aloha” and “mahalo” for these beautiful Hawaiian people are more than just direct translations of our English words “hello” and “thank you”. They are spiritual affirmations of the life giving breath within each of us and also expressions of unity, compassion and love. So mahalo Art, for helping me realize some things that people in your beautiful culture already know. And mahalo Ron, for giving me the early pieces of a science that would later help me appreciate the deeper meaning of the word “ha”.