Breathing Makes Change

Breathing is both involuntary and voluntarily controllable. It’s always there for us to access when we need it, and it keeps going when we don’t think about it. It’s just – always there. When we feel under stress, our breath becomes more shallow and higher in the chest. And when our breath is shallow, we can become more anxious and fearful… causing more stress… leading to more shallow breath… and on and on… The body doesn’t function as smoothly as it could when restricted by shallow breathing. Practicing voluntary control over the breath allows you the opportunity to take those pauses to just listen. And in that pause you give yourself options. Gaining more control over the muscles you have voluntary control over, you can change the way the breath functions and change how you move in the world.

What’s exciting about playing with the breath is that it’s all changeable. The more you play with breath and cross the line between voluntary and involuntary, the faster you can recover and respond to outside input that may cause unhealthy habits. If we create muscle habits to encourage healthy, adaptive breathing, we can face anything in life with expansion and fullness. No matter what it is.

The things that affect our breathing, and can cause us to breathe shallowly, are usually unavoidable facts of life. Things we don’t think about and the things we do. Our culture, the media, driving a car, interacting with other humans, bad news, good news, really anything that happens to you during the day requires us to constantly react and recover, react and recover. Breathing, being an automatic function in the body, has to happen no matter what. But we can habituate reacting and recovering, by practicing in the moments of calm.

Over the few days, see if you notice when you holding your breath, breathing shallowly, when you do certain projects at work, or when you listen to the news. OR when you see something inspiring, hear a beautiful piece of music, or smile at with a loved one – notice how your breath moves with joy, as well as irritation.

This week, we will be focusing and sending breath into the upper chest and shoulders. The neck and the shoulders must allow for deep breathing by releasing tension in order to let the lungs take in a full breath. We’ll practice releasing muscle patterns in the neck and shoulders to see how that affects deeper breathing.

Week 1, February 24th: Breathing into the low back

Week 2, March 3rd: Breathing into the chest & shoulders

Week 3, March 10th: Breathing into the pelvis

Week 4, March 17th: Breathing into the waist

Wednesdays at 9amEST on Zoom. Hope to see you there!

Register here.
(Registration closes at 9pm the night before.)

Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

Hibernation Somatics: Anticipating Spring

My snowy backyard. Pretty – but I want spring!

From looking at the calendar – the Spring Equinox isn’t too far away. I’m not feeling it quite yet, but I am searching for little signs to come out of that winter hibernation. In front of my house, there’s a little bulb trying to push its way up toward sunshine. I hope it makes it! I, too, feel like I am searching for sunlight and slooooooowly starting to make my way into the greater world again. This winter has held its specific challenges – we’ve had to stay inside a lot more because of the Pandemic, so we’ve been especially isolated from each other this year. A full year of this has challenged even the most hardened introverts (I speak from the heart there!). I often turn to an image of a seed in the soil during the winter to feel into my own body, in anticipation of the spring. My own Somatics practice turns even more inward and small, I explore smaller movements, and stay mostly in the center. I visualize myself as that seed – how does it feel to get ready to grow? What part of the seed starts to move first? What’s it like to start to reach out to the sun, but also root down into the soil beneath? Seasons are cycles – and so are our own internal processes, our external processes, our connections with others, and even our connection with work, effort, & exercise. Let’s be gentle in this precious time before spring – test the waters of your own growth to the greatly anticipated sunshine to come soon.

The days are getting a little longer, and green is starting to peek out from the dirt of the Earth. We are starting to come out of our internal hibernation in anticipation of spring! We’ll be starting up our weekly Somatics classes again at a new time: Wednesday mornings at 9am EST. Here is a breakdown of what’s coming up in the next 4 weeks:

Week 1, February 24th: Breathing into the low back

Week 2, March 3rd: Breathing into the chest & shoulders

Week 3, March 10th: Breathing into the pelvis

Week 4, March 17th: Breathing into the waist

Click here to register for these Drop-in classes. Thank you!

Taking Back Control of Your Nervous System

“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

My Election Day emotional management strategy.

The day after Election Day in the US, and I want to be positive. But sometimes my own nervous system highjacks me and I start to feel hopeless and scared. I am so ready for this election to be over. It seems to me that every one of us in the entire United States has had their nervous systems highjacked. It’s hard to act out of love and empathy when you feel like your life is being threatened. As a result of this fear, we make collectively bad decisions. It’s exhausting to have your nervous system on high alert – we’re always anticipating that metaphorical tiger to jump out at us. That exhaustion leads to even more stress, pain, and more highjacking. WE have the power to take back our nervous systems and act out of love, empathy, and INCLUSION. A highjacked nervous system DIVIDES and separates us from connection with each other. Can we please please please rise above, take a pause, and respond to each other with calm? We have a lot of healing to do, y’all. Let’s buckle up, and help others buckle up too. We can do this together – and only together.

I know I said we were going to do a Lower Back series starting in November, but I’m shifting that to even pre-basic Somatic movement. It will still help with lower back issues, however for November we’re going to be focusing on the nervous system, and how to reach a safe space that we can always return to when we feel like we’re tipping over into highjacked/exhausted/overwhelm brain.

Register here for Thursday’s class.