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This week we are going to learn how to stretch our neck.  Seems easy enough but there are lots of small movements we can do to make the stretches more effective and long lasting.  Again you can do this seated or standing.  (Hint: I recommend doing this with a friend who can read the instructions to you as you do them.) Start by centering yourself using the Durga Breath we learned last week.  Go ahead I will wait……

Ok to begin, gently lower your chin to your chest.  Make sure you do not let your shoulders slump forward though.  It’s important to keep your spine long and just stretch the neck.  Your head is anywhere from 12 to 14 lbs. and more if you’re stubborn; so let the weight of your head hang forward.  You should feel a gentle pulling on the back of your neck.  Breathe.  Now roll your right ear to your right shoulder NOT your shoulder up to your ear!  Keep your ear in line with the shoulder you should be looking forward not down to the floor or up to the ceiling. Breathe deeply for 5 breaths.  Feel how the left side stretches?  Each time you exhale focus on releasing tight muscles; whatever that means to you.  If you have to imagine a puppy or a happy baby to think light then do so until you understand what it means and feels like to relax.  Now to release roll your chin back to your chest.  There are lots of small muscles in the neck and we do not want to strain them after having taken such a deep stretch.

Lift your head up from center and look straight ahead.  Close your eyes and feel the difference between the right and left sides of your neck.  Pretty cool huh?  Now repeat on the other side.

If you feel tightness in any area of the movement from chin to your chest to ear to your shoulder go ahead and stop where it feels tight, breath and allow your neck to relax.  Be kind to your neck, it has to hold up all that wisdom, intelligence and maybe a little stubbornness. 

Live Simply and Wisely,

Justine

How to Breathe

February 13, 2013

One part of living healthy is knowing how to breathe well. When we feel stressed anxious or even lethargic it can make our breathing shallow and labored.  We limit the oxygen to the brain and short circuit our ability to handle stress.  That’s why knowing how to breathe deeply is so important.  Before we begin notice how you feel right now.  What is your general mood or temperament; grumpy, sad, happy, stressed?  Do you want to change your current feeling to one of being present and calm? Then let’s begin.

Sit tall right where you are, close your eyes and notice your breath.  Is it shallow or deep?  Do you feel it in your chest, back or belly?  Are you breathing more through your nose or mouth? No judgments just notice.  Now that you’ve recognized your normal breathing patterns I’m going to teach you how to breathe more deeply so you can access your vital life force and feel less stress.  This breathing technique is called Durga Breath or 3 Part Breath. 

 Place your left hand on your belly below your navel. (It should be your left hand because it represents the feminine and nurturing oneself as you are about to do right now.)   Now place your right hand on your chest.  Inhale through your nose sooooo deeeeeply that your hand moves out, feel the breath expanding your belly; once you feel your belly expand take a little more air into your body hold it for a moment; now slowly exhale through your nose.  On your next breath take the air into your belly and then let it expand out to your ribs.  Feel the ribs expanding out like wings. When you are full of air slowly exhale through your nose.  This may take a few rounds of breathing to really get familiar with breathing this deeply but when you’ve mastered it you are ready for the third part.  Take breath into your belly feeling your left hand get pushed out as you did before then into your ribs and finally into your chest.  You will feel your right hand rise with the breath.  As you exhale your chest will relax your ribs will descend and your belly will come in.  With your eyes closed repeat this at least 5-8 times.  If you experience the desire to yawn honor that and let yourself yawn. 

This Durga Breath is great because (1) more air is taken in to the lower lobes of the lungs which have a larger capacity than the upper lobes; (2) the diaphragm acts like a second heart. Its piston-like movements expand the base of the lungs, allowing them to draw in more venous blood- this increase in the venous circulation improves the general circulation; (3) the abdominal organs are massaged by the up and down movements of the diaphragm; and (4) low breathing has a beneficial effect on the solar plexus, a very important nerve center which educes relaxation.

Now how you are feeling?  Did it change?  How and in what ways?  Remember breathing is free so use this deep breathing to manage stress and create more health.  Practice Often.

Live Simply and Wisely,    

Justine

If you have questions or comments I would love to answer them email me at info@fulleryoga.com