Self care can begin with something as simple as a deep breath…
There’s so much talk around ‘self care’ these days but, really, what does that even mean? After teaching yoga for fifteen years and owning a wellness center for the last five, I’ve come to realize that it can include very simple practices that can be life-changing when we actually make time for them on a regular basis. My FP ‘How We’ series was all about first grounding into our bodies, and then incorporating easy breathwork and movement to energize quickly at work or at home. We are all leading really hectic, busy lives and instead of actually doing things that support our bodies and energetic systems we reach for things like coffee and sugar when we feel depleted. That, of course, just makes matters worse. Especially when our systems are already taxed with overworking, not getting enough sleep, and the stress of urban living. This can often lead to weak immune systems, getting sick, or disease.
One of the most basic things we can do to support ourselves is breathe deeper. I know this idea seems overly simplistic but true deep breathing is a game changer. And hardly anyone is doing it! We take shallow low belly breaths and, when we’re stressed, it gets even worse. We should be doing full body breathing on the regular but especially when we’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or all of the above. When we breathe deeply into our bodies we nourish and strengthen our nervous system, which supports our body’s reaction to all of life’s challenges, plus our overly excited emotions.
A simple practice to do at work or at home.
1. Take a deep inhale all the way up the spine into your crown and fully across your chest and upper back. Open the mouth and exhale it out with a sigh (repeat at least 3 times).
2. To go deeper: Ground your feet into the earth, close your eyes, place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart. Repeat step one. You can also choose to breathe only through the nose (not out through the mouth) after a few rounds.
Upper body and neck tension is real. Deep breaths plus movement can go a long way:
1. Sit up tall in your chair, close your eyes, draw your shoulders down the back to open your chest, and take deep breaths into your chest, neck and shoulders. As you breathe start to circle the head to lengthen the muscles in the neck. After a few rounds of circles, take one ear towards a shoulder and pause with your breath. You can hold the edge of your chair and lift up taller to create more resistance. Repeat on the opposite side and as often as needed.
2. Open up your spine with ‘cat and cow’ on your chair: Perch on the edge of your chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Let your hands slide down your thighs towards your knees so that the back rounds and your chin tucks to your chest on an exhale. Inhale and draw the hands up the thighs towards the hips as you lengthen your waist, open your chest, lift the chin, an gently open your throat as you stretch into your glands. Repeat for 1-2 minutes and find a nice gentle pace. To rev the energy up, go faster once your body warms up.
3. Seated twist: Perch on the edge of your chair and ground into your feet. Inhale the arms up to the ceiling, palms parallel, without lifting the shoulders. Turn the body to right, crossing your left arm to your right knee or thigh, let your right arm rest somewhere on the back of your chair. Anchor into your seat as you inhale length into the spine up to your crown, exhale as you gently twist. Repeat for several breaths on the same side and then switch to the left. Continue as many times as you like.
+ Check out more from our FP How We series here!
Photos by Danny Owens.