HOW TO CREATE SPACE FOR YOUR BODY AND MIND
We've had a great month of exercising, meditating, board breaking and have really enjoyed meeting new clients! An interesting point came up on a session about learning how to create some space to think, reflect and prioritise. We'd love to share some tips on how to achieve this while exercising. There are many different elements to achieving this. Here's part one.
Part 1; Deep Breathing to Create Space
Everyone needs space and there are endless ways in which we can create this. One of the things I love about Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises is that I can create that space- it could be as brief as a 5 minute practise- with the intention of developing 'breathing room' to clarify the mind and rejuvenate the body.
The best thing is you can do this anywhere and at anytime.
Sometimes the hardest step when starting to do mindful exercise, is the ability to remove yourself from the extraordinary fast pace that many of us lead our lives. It's not uncommon to feel your mind racing ahead only to achieve the same results or less but with added stress. Some see mindful exercise as a way of 'slowing down' but that sounds like retirement and deflects from what you truly get out of this type of exercise. I like to think of it as becoming more in tune with your body and mind. It's taking the time to listen to yourself and to do that you need space away from distraction. If you ever long for more hours in the day- practicing Tai Chi or QiGong can give you the breather your mind needs to focus on priorities and figure out how to work smarter, not harder. You may find having a clear space in your mind can streamline your list of tasks- saving you time and add precious moments to your day.
Just as your mind needs space, creating physical openings or space within our bodies enhances and strengthens our organ systems. Think about how often we sit and how our skeletal structure can be affected by sitting. The curved back and scrunched digestive system. To create space through exercise begins with breathing and if you take some time to practice deep breathing, it will advance your postural alignment adding huge gains to your core strength, mental capacity and organ function.
Stand and do your postural alignment checklist, just remember its all about creating space but also to strengthen each part of your body so that each part is doing what its meant to be doing. Check your body weight is even on each side. Over compensating on your left leg is going to effect your right leg if you don't start correcting from now. So, unlock those knee joints, shoulders down, armpits open, no scrunching of the neck...
At the beginning, your breathing cycle may only encompass the stomach, chest and back area but as your breathing develops it will be able to reach right up to the top of your head and down through your feet. Don't be discouraged if you can't do all the steps right away, just practice even if it's for 1 minute a day and your deep breathing will improve.
Think of your breathing cycle as a circular movement.
Inhale and exhale through the nose with slightly parted lips.
Keep the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
Breath to only 70% of your capacity so you are not straining to inhale or exhale for longer.
Start by taking a deep breath that begins in the belly.
Keep your breath smooth and deep.
Think about expanding your chest outwards with the breath, rather than straight up the body. Visualise your lungs filling and expanding and your heart pumping.
Now keep the breath going circulating up through the arms, shoulders, neck, face and reaching to the top of your head.
Imagine the flow of oxygen to your brain, clearing the fog.
Now exhale down the back of your neck, shoulder blades, back, legs and feet and imagine removing excess carbon dioxide stored through your body.
Inhale with the second breath starting at the feet and moving up the body and repeat.
With each breath make a mental note to check in with each of your vital organs; feel your lungs expand, your heart pump, an injection of oxygen to the brain, strengthening of the kidneys and cleansing of the liver. You will find that through identifying organs you will have a better understanding of how they are working and be aware of when they are scrunched up, lacking in oxygen or need help!
After a few deep breathing cycles, become aware of any vibrations that feel like a blockage or tension in your body and try to clear or release them as you work through with the breath. In time, you will be able to recognise whether any one of your 13 organ systems, feels low on energy, sluggish or hypersensitive and be able to direct oxygen and energy, flush out tension and create the space needed to rebuild and heal.
Deep breathing is a wonderful way to build greater self awareness of the internal workings of your body and mind. It keeps you present, energisers you, calms you, keeps you grounded and is incredible for your organs. Self awareness means you are also more inclined to see a health professional well before you need the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
With practice you will eventually be able to reap the rewards of deep breathing while you are sitting at your desk, watching TV, driving, standing at the supermarket, making tea... the possibilities are endless, just give it a go!