I’m going to challenge you to change things up this week. Whatever you think you should be doing, (in a movement, in your posture) whatever you’ve been told to do… do the opposite.
As an example, while you’re sitting during the day:
If you have a tendency to hold yourself rigid, perhaps with your shoulders pulled back, chest puffed out front, sitting up nice and tall, as some would say ‘good posture’, allow yourself something different. Perhaps slump a little, let the upper back round a little, feel as if you can soften the area between your collar bones, let your belly be soft and full when you breathe. RelaxI’m not saying this is what you need or you should sit this way all day. But try it for a few minutes and notice what you feel.
If you tend to be someone who is generally in a slumped position when sitting, try the opposite. Feel your sitting bones on the bottom of your chair, perhaps even pushing them into your chair slightly. Think about sitting tall, imagining your head feeling light above your shoulders, it lifting towards the ceiling. Collarbones wide, shoulder blades down your back. Notice what you feel.
Though this is only one example. You might try this way of being, or doing, in a multitude of ways.
In yoga, do you always exhale when forward bending and inhale on the reverse? Try changing it up and see what you feel. What do you notice?
Experiment with doing the opposite of what you think is right for you, what you’ve been told is right for you and see how it goes. If you like, comment below so we can take the conversation further.
Life is not easy. For any of us. There is more than enough to do, day in and day out. Stressors at work, at home or elsewhere.
So cut yourself some slack. Give yourself permission to rest.
Start with just 5 minutes. Do this at least once a day. Do it twice if you like. But do it consistently.
You might want to set a particular time for this. Perhaps at mid-day, or early evening. It’s not often you need to rest first thing in the day and this 5 minutes isn’t meant for sleeping, so not too close to bedtime either.
Either lie down or sit in a comfortable position (*see below for specifics). It’s preferable to lay on the floor but if you’re unable to do so, a bed or sofa is fine.
Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Close your eyes or soften your gaze.
Begin to breathe in and out through your nose (close your mouth).
Be here for 5 minutes, just breathing naturally. Don’t try to change anything about your breath.
Notice where you feel your breath. It might be most noticeable in your nostrils, maybe in your chest or perhaps your abdomen.
Notice how your breath is moving. If there’s any particular quality to it such as smooth, interrupted, easy, strained.
Then just breathe. And just notice.
If your mind wanders, as it’s likely to do, just bring your attention back to your breath. Feel where it’s moving through your body, where you notice it. Try not to judge the wandering of your mind as anything either good or bad.
And just breathe. And just notice.
When the timer goes off, slowly open your eyes. Roll over and stand up.
Notice what you feel. Mentally or physically make a note of what you experienced or noticed.
Keep practising for a week.
Check in with me next Tuesday and we’ll expand on this practise.
If… you can’t find 5 minutes in your day? You might want to look at that.
If you have any questions or comments, post them below.
* Positioning if seated
Sit forward on a chair so your back is not touching the back upright portion of the chair.
See if you can feel your ‘sitting’ bones (ischial tuberosities) and let your weight be supported there.
Have your feet planted on the floor, hip-width apart.
Hands comfortably on your lap.
* Positioning if lying down
Lie on the ground, perhaps on a carpet or mat if available. If you have back pain, you may want to use a rolled up towel, yoga mat, etc. to slip under your bent knees for support.
Hands can be by your side or placed on your belly.
Notice the parts of your body supported by the hard surface of the floor (heels, hips, shoulder area, head).
I’ve also learned it seems we may have been ‘wrong about stretching‘ insofar as we’re not really stretching or lengthening muscles. At least not as much as we once believed. Rather, we’re changing our response to a stimulus via the nervous system.
Our brain is naturally going to respond in a protective manner to anything it perceives as dangerous. If we are trying to re-train flexibility or just movement in the body and do so with strong, forceful pressure or stimulus … the brain/body will react by saying … stop! No! Don’t go there. It will send a (pain) signal to safeguard our movement.
However, if we move in small incremental ways within a safe and pain-free range of motion, the nervous system will react by saying … this feels okay. Safe. I’m happy to explore this.
This is a somewhat simplified way to explain all that’s going on, but it’s a starting point we can work from. We can even begin by just imagining movement and still create changes in the brain and our nervous system. So we can, really, start anywhere.
By learning to pay attention, moving in a way that allows your nervous system to adapt and create new patterns while it feels safe, you will make progress.
This provides HOPE to anyone living with pain, chronic pain, limitation to mobility or perhaps psychological pain (or unease) from the stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia that often accompany physical pain. All of which are common problems affecting a large proportion of our 21st Century population.
The experience of pain doesn’t necessarily correlate with the state of our tissue.
You may see some awful looking images on an x-ray and yet not experience pain. You may experience pain, though not even have the limb that pains you (phantom limb pain).