I’ve seen for many years how life’s stressors and our reactions to these stressors are the major causes of pain and disease. Breathing instruction is my go-to for restoring inner calm, and is highly effective. But lately, I’ve seen a higher level of stress in most people I encounter, combined with a deep inner body-gripping. When trying to breathe mindfully, they become more stressed as they feel they are running out of air.
It took me awhile to understand what was happening until I realized: the fight-or-flight inner body-gripping was so extreme that the psoas and abdominal muscles were in a constant state of spasm. This gripping prevents the major breathing muscle, the diaphragm, from being able to drop down to allow a full breath.
I experimented with this feeling in myself to see how I could guide others to let this go. The phrase that was given to me is this: “melt into gravity.”
Try this: Lie on your back, either on your yoga mat or your bed. Place 1-2 pillows or folded blankets under your knees. Use enough support under your knees to relieve any pressure or discomfort in your hips or back. Support your head with a small pillow or folded blanket. Make sure you are warm enough, using a light blanket if needed. Softly close your eyes. Feel the weight of your body being fully supported as you lie here.
Now melt into gravity. (Just feeling, not analyzing)
After allowing this inner melting and letting your body settle in as long as you like, begin to notice the breath naturally flowing in and out. Just feel this for a few minutes. If it’s comfortable, gradually slow the breath down. Focus on stretching out the breath, not going deeper. If you feel you are working hard at this, soften the effort. If at any time it becomes uncomfortable, let go of the breath and again think and do: melt into gravity.
After experiencing this feeling of melting into gravity and releasing the inner body, practicing often makes it easier to drop into this place of inner release. During the day when sitting or standing, think: “Can I be a little softer in my body right now?” and allow some inner melting.
Repeat, with kindness to yourself, several times per day.
Feb 2018 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.