3 Embodiment Exercises to Start Your Self-Care Practice

3 Embodiment Exercises to Start Your Self-Care Practice

Hey there, it’s Dawn.

I’m back to talk a little bit more about embodiment tools and the three embodiment pillars that are foundational to my view of embodiment.

The three pillars of my approach to embodiment are:
1) Grounding into your body
2) Focusing on breathing
3) Using intentional movement

To help you understand how these pillars work together, I want to do a simple exercise that brings them into focus. The first thing you want to do is find a place to sit where you can ground your feet down into the floor, so you want to feel like you can sit upright on the edge of your stool, and I’m going to have you close your eyes. I’m going to keep mine open, but go ahead and close them, and I’m just going to lead you through a short body scan. With this awareness, we’re going to do a little breathing, and then I’m going to do a little movement.

Let’s start with the first piece. Go ahead and close your eyes and sit on your stool with your feet flat on the ground. I want you to notice and bring your awareness into your body and start to sense where you are in space. This practice is called a simple body scan. Start by bringing your awareness down to your feet. I want you to feel your feet on the floor and then go ahead and trace up your body with your inner eye.

Take your awareness all the way up through your legs and feel the upper bones of your legs connecting up into your hip sockets. Then go ahead and trace up through your spine and across your chest and down through your arms. You have a sense of your arms just hanging at your sides. Just notice if your body wants to make any adjustments as you bring awareness to it, so you may feel like you’re slumping a little bit. You want to find a little easier, more upright alignment, so make whatever adjustments, bring your body into more of a sense of ease, and an arrangement where you feel like you can take a deep breath.

 

The second piece, we’re going to go right into that breathing. So bring your hands to your belly actually and take a few deep inhales and exhales. With the inhale and exhale, for the first couple of times, I want you to notice where you’re breathing. Notice if you feel like you’re holding your breath in one area of your body or another or if you feel like you can take a deep breath all the way down into your abdomen. You feel like your abdomen area can expand with the inhale and contract with the exhale. If you feel like you’re holding your breath in your shoulders and your breathing is shallow, try to drop and relax your shoulders and bring your awareness down to your belly, so you feel a sense of filling in your abdomen as well as you inhale. Just see if you can start to deepen that breath.

We’re going to do a couple more breaths, and you will focus on the expansion and contraction of the breath. As you inhale, let your body expand. As you exhale, keep exhaling until you have fully emptied out your lungs, and you feel a deep contraction of the lungs. That exhale is going to help to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and bring you into a more profound sense of rest and restoration.

To add one last little piece to this- intentional movement. Go ahead and open your eyes. And all we’re going to do is just a simple spiral. So we want to connect that awareness of our breathing and our upright spine, and we’re just going to do a little twist side to side. You will inhale as you twist and exhale as you come back to the center. Using your eyes to look behind you will bring our vision into play and help you integrate your body awareness and your breathing as a foundation for movement,

After you have done a few spirals, close your eyes again, and I want you just to check back in, do a quick little body scan again, and notice if you feel any difference in your body. Do you feel more upright? Do you feel sensations in areas that you may not have felt feeling before? Just notice how you feel. Notice if you’re breathing any more deeply and if you’re more aware of yourself in space. And then open your eyes to finish the exercise.

That’s just a simple way to look at those three layers of the embodiment process. The grounding into your body brings you into sensing your body. The breathing piece starts to bring you into the movement of your body. And the intentional movement piece helps you to connect and use your awareness and your breathing to support the intentional movement of your body.

Embodiment is a tool for health and well being. Intentional movement can help you avoid injury, prevent injury and help you feel great daily, but it also helps you to get into your body and feel empowered in how you’re moving and intentionally being in your body on a daily basis.

So enjoy!

All the best,

Dawn

 

Psoas Release

Psoas Release

Hey everyone, it’s Dawn!

And I want to take a minute to talk about how to release tension in your hips and low back by releasing the psoas. The psoas is primarily a hip flexor and a postural stabilizer. Often clients will come in with a sense of tightness through their hips and hamstrings. And I will usually do some exercises to release their hip flexors and psoas before we get moving to see if it improves how they feel in their bodies. relieves the tightness they are feeling. “Tight” hip flexors and psoas can come from too much sitting, driving, or activities that occur from loading into a flexed position in your hips and spine. And the psoas muscle is also affected by too much stress, which can put you into a chronic sympathetic state in your nervous system (fight or flight mode).

Check out the video below for a simple exercise you can use to release your hip flexors and psoas. (These exercises are subject to our website Terms and Conditions)

 

So one of the straightforward exercises that you can do to help open up that area, create some muscular relief and also help to deepen your breathing, is to lie down on your back and use a little yoga block under your pelvis to elevate it slightly. And you are going to let your pelvis release into the block and then extend one leg and let that create a little opening through the front of the hip. You will fee a stretch through the front of your hip when you do this.

Then bring your awareness to your breathing and take a couple deep breaths with that one leg extended to deepen this experience. And then bring one leg back up and then you’ll reach the other leg and take a couple of deep breaths. And you could do this multiple times, whatever you feel like you need. And I’d also suggest when you come back up, really try to kind of push the heel into the ground a little bit and engage with the back of your leg a little more to come back up. After you finish alternating legs, you can take the block out and just come back to only some simple breathing on your back. And notice if you feel any difference in how you feel in your hips and back.

And I would check in and standing as well and see if you feel more upright and more open through the front of your hips. This is just a great exercise to do at the end of the day to reset and come back to your breathing. Use this exercise to relieve stress and tension in your body caused by spending your day sitting at a desk, in the car, dealing with just the stress of the day today, and you want to bring your body into a state of rest and release.

 

All the best,

Dawn

 

Release Your Low Back Pain

Release Your Low Back Pain

Hey, everyone.

It’s Dawn Strom and in this video I want to talk about one simple strategy that you can use to help relieve your low back, neck and shoulder pain at night or during the day if you’re having symptoms. It’s a super simple exercise. It just involves laying on the floor and decompressing your spine by releasing your lower legs. Sound doable?

To get started, all you’re going to do is find a chair that you can use that is about knee hight. You’re going to bring yourself right up to the edge of it, and you’re going to lie down and let your legs hang on the top of the chair. You want to try to keep your legs at about 90 degrees. The idea is that you’re really releasing your low back and letting your femur bones just kind of hang in the sockets to release your hips and pelvis as well. Also, you want to let your neck and shoulders relax on the floor and release any tension you feel in these areas as well.

Now you’re going to just stay on the floor with your legs up and do a couple deep inhales and exhales. Let your belly stay relaxed on the inhale and on the exhale. You can stay here as long as you want, as long as you need to, to really feel like your muscles can relax and you can feel like you can fully breath in a way that allows you to take a deep and full inhale and exhale.

If you don’t have a stool, you can also do this in what we call a constructive rest position. Lie on the floor, letting your knees be bent at about 90 degrees and let your knees slightly spiral in towards each other so you don’t have to work to hold them up. Again, palms facing the ceiling and neck and shoulders relaxed on the ground, you can do some nice deep breathing in this position, allowing your back to relax on the floor.

Just one note, make sure you’re not tucking your pelvis at all and tightening your low back or arching it. You should feel like your pelvis can be in a nice neutral position as you focus on your breathing.

Okay, so this position can be really great at the end of the day or even during the day if you’re having some low back pain and you have time to take a moment on the floor to do some release and breathing. Very simple to do, and you can do it as long as you need to just to feel like you can really fully relax those muscles, take a deep breath and hopefully relieve some of your symptoms so you can get on with your day and get a good night’s sleep.

Let me know what you think in the comments, and take care for now.

Take Care,

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Gyrotonic As Meditation

Gyrotonic As Meditation

Hey everyone, it’s Dawn Strom from C.A.R.E. Bodyworks and today I want to talk a little bit about Gyrotonic as a form of meditation. In the last video, I talked about two different techniques that we use in our movement therapy practice to help you connect to your body: the body scan and the breathing exercise. Today, I want to talk about how Gyrotonic can be a form of meditation as well.

If you think about meditation as a practice of focusing on something specific and singular, like your breath or your sensations or a particular mantra, you can think about Gyrotonic movement as focusing on a holistic perception of your body.

I’ve heard people say in their Gyrotonic sessions that there are so many things to focus on. “I’ve got to put my arm here and do this  with my spine and something different with my head and I don’t know what to focus on” is a sentiment I hear often when clients first try Gyrotonic. However, the real opportunity and beautify within Gyrotonic is that instead of focusing on the minutia of what is going on in any one part of your body, you are actually developing a holistic perspective of how your body is moving in space. You’ll notice in your practice and in videos of Gyrotonic movement that it’s a fluid, whole-body movement. One of the key things we work with is helping our clients discover the imperfect perfect movement. The movement won’t always be perfect, but the idea is to develop a holistic sense of how your body is moving so  you start to feel your body moving as a whole in space and you feel yourself move as a whole. You’ll start to feel the way that your body moves best and with ease and, like pottery on a wheel, you can start to mold it and shape it through your awareness.

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The big picture is that you really want to get a feeling of your body as a whole and yourself as whole moving through space and in your life. This is how you want to show up in your movement practice and exercise practice on a daily basis. In that sense, Gyrotonic can really be a form of moving meditation if you can drop into it and allow your awareness to develop of this singular, holisitc focus: the sense of your whole body moving in space, and sense the rhythm of your breath moving your body in a simple and fluid way.

In that sense, Gyrotonic practice can really help you to drop you’re your body. It can help you to establish that singular, holistic focus. It can also just give you the opportunity to move your energy, let your emotions move, clear you mind and all of the other positive benefits of a meditation practice.

So the next time you are moving through your Gyrotonic Practice, let yourself drop into it as a kind of meditation and see how your experience shifts!

Take Care,

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