Exercise and movement are not something to be measured in weekly minutes. We need to move often, it doesn't have to be a big workout, just bring mindful awareness into your body, stretch, walk around, circle your hips, your head, your ankles, your wrists- feel the internal connections of your body as a whole! 5 minutes of gentle body friendly movement every hour helps assuage some of the detriments of our sedentary lifestyles. You hydrate your fascia through movement, add some deep diaphragmatic breathing and you will also stimulate your lymphatic system and maybe even activate your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. It is in the parasympathetic spaces that we find real regeneration!
If you are sitting at your desk or on your couch for hours and hours every day then going to take a "Burn" or high intensity class might actually do more harm than good to the soft tissues in your body. More consistent movement, more often, in diverse environments can be game changing.
The resilience of your soft tissues depends a lot on your age and how you take care of your animal body. We can choose to age wisely through nutrition (eat REAL food), sleep (I get 8 hours regularly), hydration (drink good water and move your body) and learning to dial down our nervous system. How do we dial down our nervous system? Softening the center, releasing stress, and tuning into deep levels of consciousness. This can be done through meditation, micro-movement, somatics, breath work etc. I depend on all of those A LOT.
Recently I have been tuning into two very powerful keys to deep concentration. One is painting. More specifically, painting geometric shapes with bright colors. The other is Emily Conrad’s Luna (or Lunar) breath from Continuum Movement with Mary Abrams. In this post I will talk about Luna breath. I’ll get into the geometry in a future post.
Lunar Breath (or Luna) works with the vagus nerve stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes healing through the rest and digest response. The vagus nerve helps to regulate the heartbeat and digestion. It seems to diffuse the electromagnetic field while modulating the diaphragm. Movements that go well with the Luna breath are orbits in ribs/lungs/pelvis or very simple non-judgmental cat cows where the focus is placed on feeling through the arch and curl without trying to make the most perfect shape. These can help slow us down while creating a spacious sense of resilience and fluidity. I find all of the internal orbiting motions really bring my energy and presence back to my Self. The inward focus feels like I am gathering back into myself. It tunes out the noise.
To me the Luna breath is like a very diffused yogic ujjayi breath. Ujjayi dialed down from a 10 to a 1. A slight glottal hold on the exhalation gives it a very specific location both audibly and spatially. Additionally the slight glottal hold regulates the breath making it easy to tune into. It has more presence than regular breath. When Mary Abrams brought this breath into our classwork I had an immediate -AHA! THIS! - moment. Actually it was more like -aha…this - because it wasn’t loud. It was peaceful and curious, like a quiet invitation down the rabbit hole of wonderment. A trip inside my own being, the Luna breath was leading me through the sensation-full internal terrain of my feeling body --- a somatic delight.
Most Tuesdays between 11:00 and 1:00 I can be found at Moving Body Resources taking a Continuum class with Mary Abrams, filling my own well through the self-discovery of breathing/sounding practices and spontaneous improvisational movement. I teach a lot of group fitness classes for Equinox. I run a dance company and I see clients privately. I need to partake in “soul nurture” activities as often as possible. Continuum Movement is a delicious, juicy way to dip into the pool of my own creative nature. In class with Mary Abrams she provides a basic map of the breaths and body focuses that we will work with and then we set off. We are in a room together but we take the class according to our own sense of time, depth and curiosity. The Luna breath is one of the myriad breathing/sounding practices that has come up in class. I think I felt such an immediate connection to it because of the almost paradoxical nature of it. It is both grounding and spacey. While it is very otherworldly it tunes me into myself in a profound way.
More resources for Luna Breath
Luna breath is “Benevolent breeze that flows harmoniously across the surface of a habitable moon”
-Ateeka Yoga https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kErU5JbY0dU
For classes in NYC with Mary Abrams - http://movingbodyresources.com/