Movement + Breathing

Finding balance and connecting the mind + body comes in no better form than focusing on your breath.

As a dancer, I am very passionate about the healing energy of movement on not only the body but the mind as well.

 

I use the combination of intentional breath and movement to find grounding energy, reduce anxiety, and improve respiratory + immune health.

 

Anxiety is the physical, mental and emotional reaction to stress. Both can be calmed through the practice of yoga breathing also called pranayama.

 

When anxiety gets out of control, it can disrupt your daily life and your sleep. Breathing can help you regain control.

Finding Balance | Mind + Body Connection | Setting Intentions

The most important step in breath work is to set intentions purposefully and become aware of your consciousness. Start by becoming aware of your breath. Go ahead, listen for it.

 

Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Place your right hand over your heart and your left hand over your naval. Close your eyes and start by drawing three deep breaths. Then begin to breath normally while paying attention to your hands as they move, your rib cage as it expands and contracts, the sound your breath makes, and the sensation from your toes up to the tip of your crown chakra. Continue this way for five minutes to start. Use this time to find a rhythm, to connect to the energies of peace + calming. I find it helpful to hold a chrysocolla and a Lemurian quartz stone during this meditative practice.

When you breathe out of your nose, you most likely only breathe out of one nostril at a time. It varies from person to person, but your body changes which nostril you actually breathe out of at different times.

 

Whichever nostril you are breathing out of might greatly affect your body and brain. For example, breathing out of your right nostril might increase blood levels, while breathing out of your left nostril has the opposite effect.

 

Practicing alternate nostril breathing can help to restore balance to your mind and body. To start, find a comfortable seated position. I like to grab an essential oil in connection to my practice for the day. Bergamont and Eucalyptus are good to relieve anxiety, Lavender for calming, etc (see essential oils page for more information) Close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe in slowly through your left nostril. Then close your left nostril with your index finger and release your right. Exhale slowly through your right nostril. Repeat three times.

This is one of my favorites. It is said to burn away disease and karma. Breath of fire builds lung capacity and increases vital strength, stimulates the solar plexus chakra to release natural energy throughout the body, and raises the voltage of the nervous system. This one can get pretty intense, but just trust your body and go with the flow. The only thing moving during this breathing technique is the naval. To start, find a comfortable seated position. When practicing the breath of fire, it is essential to pump the naval point toward the spine on the exhale. When you exhale, make sure the belly moves inward and when you inhale, your stomach moves outward. When you feel comfortable here, quicken the breathes giving equal emphasis on the inhale and the exhale until you are at a rapid place.

This is a great exercise to release any stale air in the lungs which can happen when we take shallow breathes and when the energy in our bodies becomes stagnant. This breathing technique reduces how hard a person has to work to breathe, it releases air trapped in the lunges, it promotes relaxation, and it reduces shortness of breath. To practice pursed lips breathing, close your mouth and breathe in through your nose while counting to two. Purse your lips like you would to whistle or blow out a candle, and slowly breathe out through pursed lips while counting to four. Try practicing this four or five times daily to calm anxiety, promote self-confidence, and balance the mind + body.

A step into my practice...

Now that we have the breathes down, I like to incorporate these practices into my movement flow. I start with the meditative breath which starts in stillness and progressively adds arm circles. Reaching up to the sky and through the center of my body creating an energy flow through my body. I like to incorporate contact with my skin as I work from my root chakra up through the crown chakra. Play around with this and have fun. Don't forget to show some love to your feet, legs and hips as well. 

 

I then move through a child’s pose series taking time to listen to my body. I like to incorporate skin contact here as well. This can include rubbing my neck and shoulders, moving from the right to the left sides. Really taking the time to stretch my back during this moment. Here I am using the pursed lips breathing as well as the deep meditative breathing to connect with my spine. Visualizing the air traveling up through the root chakra and out through the crown chakra can help create a flow of energy through the spine. 

 

Moving through a sun salutation flow            allows the energy and the breath to become more active. From here I find a comfortable seated position with my essential oil for this practice (today was Bergamont to alleviate stress + anxiety) and begin the alternate nostril breathing. This I do in stillness really focusing on the scent and the connection of right and left side body. After completing three breathes on each side I move on to a Cat Cow series to get my center engaged and to reintroduce movement to the breath rhythm I have just found. Take your time here and move how your body is leading you. I like to do some circular movements to get the hips and the shoulders engaged here as well. Moving through a few twisted downward dogs – right hand to left ankle and visa versa – breathing deeply for three breathes each.

 

From here I begin my flow for the day incorporating pranayama throughout. Being intentional to continue the flow of breath through movement.

Let the breath lead you. The mind + body connection you have just made is powerful and has engaged your intuition. 

Follow it! And have fun!

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