Tag: aging with grace

DO YOU KNOW WHY BREATHING IS A KEY FACTOR IN YOUR WELLNESS?

I think of breathing in two different ways, after we acknowledge that breathing is mandatory for life and air always enters into the lungs.

#1: I use breath in a way that helps me to harness my reflexive core in exercise or to manage load (think picking up your grandchild).

#2: I use breathing as a practice when lying down or seated to manage my mind/body connection. This is better known as stress management or meditation.

Breathing for Core Strategy or Load Management

Air enters your body automatically because of pressure differences between the atmosphere and your internal body. By virtue of this automatic flow of air into your body, you need to increase volume somewhere to accommodate the incoming air.

This shape change is what we call breathing. We can change shape in our ribs and our chest as well as our stomach. The artful design of our body created the lungs to take in the air and they happen to live in our ribs which are designed to expand.

On the other hand, our stomach expands with increased food content. But if our abdomen expands when we take air into our lungs, it is really a bulge because no air actually changes the volume of the stomach. Think about a water balloon and how if you squeeze it, the rest of the balloon pushes out. Essentially that is what is happening on a belly breath. The ribs tighten so the belly can jut out.

Hopefully, it makes sense now that optimal breathing for movement and exercise utilizes mostly the movement of the ribs, which are designed to expand. The overflow of pressure then moves into the belly.

When you expand your ribs to breathe, you do not push down into your core. Nor into your pelvic floor. However, when you belly breathe, you do push down and out because of simple body mechanics.

Is a yoga belly breath bad? No, I enjoy lying on my back and allowing more shape change in my tummy as part of relaxation. Would I belly breathe when doing a goblet squat? A FIRM NO!

Find out how to assess your breathing and breathe for optimal core and pelvic floor health during Sarah’s free Short and Sweet webinar on July 15, 2021.

Breathing for Meditation or Stress Management

Breath work was my entryway into meditation. I found guided meditations difficult and distracting, but breath work kept my mind on my body and allowed for meditation to occur. There is a lot of good scientific research now on the power of meditation of any kind to lower stress levels and blood pressure levels, in addition to helping patients recover from trauma.

Let’s look at some of my favorite breath work guides.

Ana Lilia

Ana suffered from various stress related symptoms until she discovered breath work. She became a certified breath coach and has guided thousands of people to connect with their breath. Her healing journeys include music and guidance. I have enjoyed her free breath work offers and you may as well. She has been featured on NBC news, BravoTv, the LA Times, and Harpers Bazar.

Tai Hubbart

Tai says “For the majority of my early life I struggled with depression, and for over a decade, I suffered with chronic headaches. While I was able to remain high-functioning professionally in the Advertising & Design industry, I had little capacity to enjoy life, and spent the majority of my resources trying to track down the root of my dis-ease and simply feel better.

“In 2009, I decided to leave my corporate position and take a life/healing sabbatical in which I could listen more deeply and redirect my life’s compass.” She leads group breath work sessions, and one-on-ones. In the breath work section of her website you can enjoy a 28-minute introduction to breath work.

Annalise Sullivan

Annalise Sullivan is a writer, energy reader, and autonomy activist. In addition to her academic achievements in sociology and social work, Annalise has spent over a decade honing her methods as a breath work facilitator, intuitive guide, and NARM trained trauma-informed practitioner.

Annalise offers a breadth of techniques and resources to support you on your healing journey. I appreciate Annalise’s reasonably priced group breath work experiences on Zoom.

Rohi Coustage and Energy of Breath School

I experienced a true breakthrough when I practiced gamma breath with Rohi Coustage. She offers this description: Breathing into Gamma is a great daily practice, from a few one-minute breaths throughout the day to longer practices.

This brings us to a baseline Gamma state and all our life reflects upgrades into a higher energy state with unlimited fulfilling outcomes in whichever area we choose to focus our breath. Cultivating our gamma state leads to the unlocking of our higher sensory abilities, the development of our higher brain processing power, total manifestation power, and the evolution into our Light Bodies as we enter this era of accelerated consciousness evolution and next level awareness.

Two Types of Breaths to Try

A Basic Gamma Breath

Breathe deep – 3 seconds to inhale, 3 seconds to exhale, following this sequence:

IN MOUTH, OUT MOUTH

IN MOUTH, OUT NOSE

IN NOSE, OUT NOSE

IN NOSE, OUT MOUTH

Do 3 sets of the above and finish with:

ONE MORE IN MOUTH, OUT MOUTH

Then relax and tune in for a few moments to the effects.

Square Breath

Advice from Navy Seals: The military has found square breathing to be the best technique for on-the-go stress management. Although they teach many types of breath in the military, the Huberman Lab has worked with the military and revealed in a podcast recently that square breathing is their go-to technique for maintaining equilibrium in stress filled environments.

INHALE FOR 4

HOLD FOR 4

EXHALE FOR 4

HOLD FOR 4

Repeat for at least 3 rounds.

What have you noticed about your breathing?

Is it deep or shallow?

Belly or ribs?

Have you tried doing meditation?

Which breathing technique do you use?

Please share below!

Surprisingly Effective Chair Exercise for Your Arms and Core

Chair Exercise for Your Arms and Cores that Works for Strength Building

Are you concerned about how to exercise if you have poor balance or can not get up and down from the floor easily? This is an exercise solution for you!

To prevent muscle atrophy as we age, it is important to continue to activate our muscles even if we are not able to move around a lot. I recommend this short routine as a movement break.

Find Your Sitting Posture for Effective Chair Exercise

You will need a towel, yoga strap, belt, or tie.

The unfortunate thing about chairs today is that most of them encourage us to slouch and sit on our sacrum. The sacrum is the triangular-shaped bone that forms the link between your spine and tailbone. Sitting on our sacrum is one of the culprits in low back pain and SI joint pain.

To find your ideal sitting posture, start by finding your sitting bones. Those are the bony protrusions at the bottom of our pelvis. Rock side to side in your chair and back and forth a bit. You should be able to locate those bony landmarks. Now that you have found them, try sitting right on top of them. Push down through your feet as you lengthen the top of your head to the ceiling. Do not reach your nose to the ceiling, but rather, think of the back of your head getting taller.

Find 360-Degree Breathing

Now that you have your sitting posture, place your hands on your lower abdomen. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Notice your belly move out into your hands on your inhale while sitting down for an effective chair exercise.

On the next breath, see if you can make that expansion happen in your rib cage instead of your belly. If this is extremely difficult, do not be discouraged. Just having this new awareness is the perfect place to start.

Now that you are aware of the fact that you can move your inhale into your ribcage, try practicing your breathing this way. Imagine that your chest is full of little holes and as you inhale, air flows into your lungs through all those holes. The air fills your lungs as if they were a sponge. The sponge of your lungs expands into the rib cage and the bones of your rib cage move outward.

Practice this as often as it occurs to you. It’s great little workout for your ribcage as well as your internal pressure system. Over time, you will notice that you have a more evenly distributed inhale—and that will help you with core stability and strength.

Core Warmup

Grab a towel or strap and hold each end.ull the strap back across the front of your upper shins or your knees while you grow your spine taller. Make sure you exhale as you pull the strap. Remain tall in your seat and exhale as if you are blowing out 100 birthday candles while you pull on the strap.

Do you notice the backs of your arms turning on? If not, try having your thumbs forward and your pinky fingers pointing behind you and try again. Do this 6 to 8 times.

Now let’s do a little walk with our hips! We will not be leaving the chair but we will shimmy our hips forward and backward in our seat. Remember to stay tall and keep your spine straight as you move your right sitting bone forward and then your left. Return your right sitting bone and then your left. Next time reverse that order. Keep going back and forth without tucking your tail or arching your low back.

Working Your Arms During Effective Chair Exercise

Now we will do an exercise called pull-aparts. Take the ends of your towel or strap and hold them directly in front of your chest. If holding your arms parallel to the ground at chest level hurts your shoulders or neck, just hold your hands lower. You will have your hands in an overgrip on the strap. We will pull the ends of the band apart 6 times. Use an exhale and grow tall with each pull. Reverse your grip to underhand and repeat the exercise. Where do you feel each one on your arms?

Next, we will do the Bow and Arrow exercise. You are still holding your towel or strap. Imagine that the strap is a bow with an arrow in it. Take your right hand to your right armpit while your left hand out to the left and a bit forward of you. There is not a right or wrong for your arm and hand placement. Switch from side to side and see if you can find a rhythm of right to left and find the positioning that feels good in your body. Your arms can be as high or low as you want. This is about the movement, not about how it looks.

More into the Arm Workout

Put your towel to the side and pick up your block, ball, or any object that you can comfortably hold in one hand at a time. Hold the object in your left hand and pass it to your right hand in front of you. Be curious and see if you can take the object behind your back and pass it to your right hand. If this is not possible, it’s ok. Pass the block from hand to hand in front of you. Maybe see about holding the object higher or lower or changing the speed of the transitions. We are going to do this for one minute at a time followed by a 30-second rest and another minute of activity. It is your choice to pass the object behind you or in front of you.

When you are done, put your object down and let your hands come to your lap. This is the end of your upper body workout in the chair. At this time, take a moment to notice your breathing. Can you focus on breathing into all of the lobes of your lungs as if they were a sponge? Fill the entire spongy lobes of your lunges and slowly blow the air out as if blowing out 100 birthday candles. Repeat this activity 4 times and then return your breathing to normal.

Take your right ear toward your right shoulder and breathe. Slowly take your head back to the center. Take your left ear to your left shoulder and then slowly return to the center. Repeat this 2 more times to each side.

Notice your arms and torso. Hopefully, you feel more energized and alert with this effective chair exercise. Let me know in the comments how you feel!

If you enjoyed this mini strength workout in a chair, join me next month for a leg workout in the chair.