Feeling the festive build up is overwhelming? – Use some calming breath and relax

Feeling it’s all getting a bit much? Often we can get so caught up in being busy we forget to look after ourselves and take some time out! Plus we often get stuck at our computer/device or simply slumped in the sofa. Why not have a moment now with simple exercises to free up and release yourself.

Firstly, have a good wriggle; I find a shimmy and squirm best to loosen away tight or stiffness. Stand up and give yourself a good shake out. Notice how your are, if feeling a bit tense or agitated try to blow those feeling away.

Plant your feet a little wide and soften your knees. Check you have no lights or beams above you before you start!

As you breathe in a slow breath, lift your hands out sideways and overhead (or as high as comfortable). Breathing out make a noisy sigh as you float your hands down again. This is called Exchange of air and I love the loud sign as signals your body to relax, helps deepen our breath into the diaphragm and pushes away the stale air to full revitalise with fresh breath. To help emotional release imagine your sigh out a dark smoke or colour to suit your mood? Do this a few times.

Our spines really appreciate being full used, so do some easy side bends hands overhead like swaying palm tree (easier or protecting back keep hands on hips), lift chest up and forward so arch spine carefully. Be mindful if bending forward especially if niggly back slide hands on legs and keep knees soft with your core engaged. Twisting start with simple swivel , maybe elbows out and gently turn each direction.

Next circle your arms like a windmill, &/or smaller circles you rest fingers on shoulders and circle elbows forward and down, see if you can touch in front of you? Repeat a few times. Then circle opposite way round aware of shoulder blades sliding downwards as finish. All of these are great to do a few times during your day to avoid getting too stiff. It is recommended you take an ergonomic break every hour so stand up sigh and wiggle!.

Moving the body really helps us feel better, next if we work with our breath it can be beneficial to help our mind and well being. We can calm ourselves with a longer smooth outbreath and if we count as we breath this can help us focus and steady our over busy mind. Habit means we keep small upper chest breaths especially when anxious. Try one hand on your collar bones and softly rest your other hand just under your ribcage. Notice the movement of your chest and belly. Slowly encourage your breath down to the lower hand, feel how breathing gently moves your hand as the belly pushes out as your diaphragm pulls downwards making more space for your lungs to fill. Don’t force or strain but relax into the longer breath, maybe counting four as inhale and a slower 5 or 6 counts to exhale. With time allow the natural pauses or mini gaps between the inhale and the out breath?

Having brought your breath to a calm place, let your breathing find its natural rhythm and focus your mind to stay with your breath. Our constant companion our breathing can keep your mind from wandering or getting too busy. Even a couple of moments can give you a mini MOT for your grey matter.  

Finally with the festive period if you feel you have over done things? Lie down and rest your legs up the wall or into the seat of the sofa. I pop a rolled up towel under my buttocks to gently tilt the pelvis to lengthen and ease my niggly lower back. Enjoy and remember to look after yourself in body, breath and mind!

Hazel Faithfull

NB These are gentle movements but please check with your GP if you are unsure if appropriate exercise, especially if you have high blood pressure or any spinal discomfort or conditions.

Published in Cumnor Parish News Magazine December 2021

Hazel teachers here in Cumnor and online

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