Tag Archives: linkedin

Feeling Internally with the Breath

20111011_151 - Version 2There is so much to feeling our internal landscape – tissues, organs, fluids, and the space in between – In TLY, learning to feel inside is foundational, and we start this process with the breath.

Breath is the most useful bridge to the inside of the body and the nervous system. Even though this is something we do every day, most of us don’t use our breathing to its full potential. Chronic pain and emotional stress have a direct connection to the quality of our breathing – conversely, breathing is directly connected to physical ease and deep relaxation on an ongoing basis.

Here’s a simple and interesting exercise you can use to begin exploring your breath. Sit comfortably someplace where you won’t have distractions. See if you can pay attention to the physical feeling of your breath, without forcing it – in other words, let your breathing happen naturally, don’t make it happen – and just observe.

How does it feel? Is it difficult/easy to “find” your breathing? Do you feel tension/relaxation in your breath? What parts of your body move when you breathe? Do you find that you get distracted from feeling the physical movement of your breath? How big does your breath feel? Is the inhale the same length as the exhale? Do you hold your breath in between inhaling and exhaling or vice versa?

When doing this exercise it is common to feel any of the qualities mentioned above, as well as many other subtle or more pronounced sensations. When working with your breathing, it is extremely important to spend time with this exercise, really getting to know the quality of your particular breathing pattern.

Care for the Kidneys

Winter is nearly here, a time of shorter days and focusing inward. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is the season of the element water, and the corresponding organs, the kidneys.  Taoist master Bruce Frantzis recently offered this advice:

“December is coming, do anything you can to build up your kidneys during the winter season and get a lot of rest. The winter is the time of the regeneration of your body for the rest of the year. And I hope the forces of universe bring this opportunity into your life.”

We can use Longevity Breathing Yoga to relax and open our breathing so that each breath provides a gentle massage to the kidneys.  Taking  even a few a few minutes daily to practice the following simple warm-ups and posture can provide significant benefit.

1. Relax the body and “warm up” the breath

Sit comfortably. Let your  whole body, especially the chest and diaphragm, relax and let go. Feel how the front and sides of the belly begin to gently expand as you inhale and relax back as you exhale.  Don’t push your breath, Do let go and let your breath happen naturally. Lay your hands on you belly – see if they move slightly forward as you inhale, and slightly back as you exhale. You can also place your hands on your sides and feel for the same expanding-out and relaxing- in movement.

If you are unfamiliar with Taoist breathing or belly breathing, see the DVD Longevity Breathing and the section on breathing in Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body, both by Bruce Frantzis, for instructions on opening the breath in the front and sides of the belly.

2. Find the kidneys

The kidneys are located in the mid-low back area of the body. Sit comfortably and bring your hands to the area of the kidneys. Gently rub and/or pat this area to awaken the sensation in this part of your body.

3. Warm-up the back

Have  small pillow and a rolled blanket or towel close-by. Lay on your back, with the pillow under your head. Silde the rolled blanket under your lower pelvis so that the pelvis tips back and up slightly as pictured. Adjust the size and placement of your props so that your feel completely comfortable bringing the knees in toward the chest.

Rest in this position allowing the whole back to relax and sink into the floor, letting the back of your body gently open and stretch like a hammock. Spend at least a few minutes here.

4. Open the breath in the kidneys

Roll onto your side to come out of the back warm-up position. Now that we’ve warmed up the breath and the body, we will focus on postures for kidney breathing. Try one or both of these options depending on how comfortable your body feels in each.

Laying down

Lay on your back with your knees in the air and your feet on the floor. Now bring your attention specifically to the kidneys, and this part of the back. As you inhale, feel this part of the body gently pressing into the floor, and a gentle release of pressure as you exhale. Remember to keep relaxing to feel the breath here, as opposed to pushing the breath – let your breath breathe you.

Sitting up

Sit with your legs straight ahead. Keeping your torso aligned and your spine straight lean back slightly, about 15 – 20 degrees; place your hands behind you with the fingers pointing toward your body (or in a fist if this is uncomfortable). Let the shoulders and arms relax as much as possible (if you have too much weight on the arms, or if the shoulders are very tense, make the amount you are leaning back smaller).

Now, as you breathe, focus on the kidney area, letting the breath open and expand as you inhale, and relax back toward the center on the exhale. Do this for a few moments.

Remember to relax into your breathing rather than forcefully inhaling/exhaling.

Wrap up

Spend a few moments sitting comfortably in a chair or cross-legged. Feel your breath expanding through the front, sides and back (kidney area) of the belly and see if you can relax and let go your whole back. You may even begin to feel your breathing in your upper back. Remember to let the chest be relaxed and still as you breath.

Finally, spend a last few moments just simply relaxing and letting go…