conscious breathing · constructive rest · Uncategorized · yoga

Inhabit your body.

There is so much to you that goes unobserved. Over the arc of time, my work with you could entail assisting with re-inhabiting your abandoned places, re-connecting with your lost or forgotten places, and re-acquiring parts of you that have been denied, pushed away or taken. And it all starts with your breath.

Set up your space. Clear an area that is slightly longer and wider than you are. Go get a blanket or two, take off your shoes, your belt~ anything that constricts parts of your body. Empty out your pockets and mute or turn off your phone. You’re about to take a wide-awake version of the ‘power nap’. Your nervous system will thank you, the logjam in your brain will thank you, and the muscles that support your spine will be happy for the opportunity to relax. You will feel better when we’re done.

Fold one blanket into a thin pillow. Have the other blanket nearby to cover yourself if it gets cold. Lie down, head on the folded blanket. Take a body lengthening stretch by pushing your heels in one direction (think of this as lengthening from the pelvis down). Lift your arms upwards, interlace your fingers, and lower your extended arms towards the floor behind you, lengthening you from the belly up. Have surgeries, injuries or other things that limit your range of motion? Improvise!

Take a couple breaths, then bend your knees and place your feet together on the floor. Step heels out, then toes out, once or twice until your feet are hips’ width apart and parallel to each other. Let your arms rest on the floor and close your eyes. You’ve been breathing this entire time, so let’s now focus on that. Bring your awareness to your nose, your nostrils, and inhale smoothly. Don’t force a big long inhale~ eventually you’ll hyperventilate and we forgot the paper bags. Just breathe and observe, inhaling, exhaling, over and over again. Then place your hands on your ribs. Depending on the girth of your chest, your fingers might be close to your breastbone or resting more on the sides of the rib basket.

Your fingers and your growing awareness of all things *you* begin to notice the movement of the ribs: expanding and lifting a bit on the inhale, dropping and closing on the exhale. If your body is doing something that feels very different, you might be a paradoxical breather, in which case, contact me. For about 5-10 breaths, simply observe~ then move in to change, correct, adjust. Take an inhale, pause in that expanded state, and then inhale again. Exhale naturally, like you’ve just crested a hill and stopped momentarily to enjoy the view. Then, a normal breath, one inhale, one exhale. Repeat this pattern~ two part inhale, exhale, regular breath~  few more times. What do you notice? Can you play with spreading your ribs more widely against the floor and out to the sides? Does this exercise create some anxiety, or focused relaxation?

Then slide your hands down to the low part of your belly, fingers resting between your belly button and your pubic bones. Picture a muscle that spans the space between the left and right sides of this area~ you’re going to be engaging it. Take an inhalation through your nose, then purse your lips and exhale through your mouth as though you were trying to blow out a lot of birthday candles. You choose what kind of cake they’re on.

Repeat this breathing pattern~ inhaling through the nose, exhaling through pursed lips~at least 10 times. As you exhale, begin to engage the muscles of the low belly. The movement below your fingers will be that of ‘in and down’. Pushing the belly up towards the ceiling creates a lot of pressure in your torso, so think of muscles encircling or girdling your waist and pelvis and snugging everything in. Finish this, then rest in a softened body. Before you get up, roll to your side, supporting your head. Let your spine adjust, then push up to your hands and knees, or to sitting, using your arms. Pause, and slowly make your way back up to standing. There’s no rush to ‘get back to work’, so enjoy the sensations you’re experiencing before recollecting your things and turning your attentions elsewhere.

***

Know someone with a soothing voice? Have them record these instructions. You can do this practice sitting at your desk, on a commuter train, in the airport~ anywhere and anytime you need to de-stress, refocus, or simply take a break and find your body’s parameters once again.

 

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