Relax into Your Bridge – Just Breath

We are all taught to ask our clients to “use the breath.”  But what do we really mean?  What do we want our clients to do with the breath?  We can recruit the breath to either increase or decrease intra-abdominal pressure to either support a movement or increase the challenge of the movement.  That’s a lot to think about for a client.  Can we cut the client a break and just relax?

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

Let’s use the breath to unwind.  You know, take a deep breath, chill.  Take the Bridge as a simple example. Lie on the mat, close your eyes.  Take a deep breath in, then let it out.  Slooowly.  Repeat.  On the third breath, with the eyes still closed, as you exhale, imagine that the spine is heavy.  So heavy it sinks into the mat, pulling your ribs and belly button with it.  It’s weighted there, each vertebra.  One more inhale and on the exhale, keeping the feeling of weight in your spine, use your hamstrings and glutes to do the “heavy lifting.”  Inch by inch, bone by bone, send your tailbone towards the back of your knees and knees over toes.  As each bone follows the vertebra before it and lifts off the mat, it is freed of its weight.  Complete the movement with an inhale at the top and a long exhale as the vertebrae reconnect with the mat (and their weight) one by one.

Placing this breathing sequence with Bridging at the front of your class plan can also really help clients gain mindfulness and prepare them to approach the rest of class with an elevated level of body awareness.

 

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

Getting the Most Out of Seated Rotation

So, rotation.  Exercises that utilize rotation in a seated position – Mermaid, Spine Twist, Saw – are great exercises to engage not only the waistline, but the entire oblique chain while at the same time increasing spinal mobility and improving posture.  With such desirable and beneficial potential, it’d be nice to know we’re getting the most out of it.

This breathing cue is the KEY to getting maximum rotation.  Begin by having the client take a deep inhale in the starting position.  As they move into the rotation, the client should exhale fully, ending the breath as they reach the furthest rotated state they can manage.  Ask him or her to take a very shallow inhale here and forcefully exhale the air – expelling every last teensy bit of air from the lungs.  This will create the space for just a smidge more rotation.  Then inhale to unwind back to the starting position.

Once the client has nailed the breathing, reinforce the movement with this visual: imagine that the spine, and the entire trunk, is a wet towel.  Now, as you rotate, you are wringing out the last bit of water from the towel.  That last breath out is the last drop of water from the towel.

Copyright © 2017, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.