Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday, Feb. 27: Healthy Backs, and the joy of Breathing

How to have a healthy back ? Have a healthy brain. Wow. What does that mean? It means to have a brain that is paying attention and is learning. This is what brains/people really like to do.

Paying attention to what? To the usual, if you’ve been reading these essays: to breathing and to gravity. At every moment from plopping out of the womb we have these two oceans in which we swim, the ocean of air and the ocean of gravity. As a newborn we don’t cope with gravity, we are just a blob, but right away we can feel a certain “heaviness” as we lift and move our arms and legs. Welcome to the world, kiddo, it takes some effort to lift up these arms things and legs things in the world of gravity. Breathing, though, we better get with that program right away, and so we do.

Now, as you either sit, stand or lie there listening to or reading these words, various parts of you are pressed down into whatever is underneath you, floor, chair, bed, grass, couch. This is nice to pay attention to. This is the place we need to press into if we are ever going to be any place else in the world. If we don’t, we are stuck here, forever. And when we press to move, we are going to have to take our heads along with us, convenient for seeing where we are going, listening to the birds singing and yapping out anything we have to say. Between the legs which will move us, most of us, and our heads, is our backs. So a nice thing to pay attention to is how our backs are holding up our head if we are sitting or standing, and how they are connecting our head to the pelvis if we are lying down.

Breathing is happening, too, whether we sit, stand or lie down. Breathing can begin to be a great friend of a healthy back if we learn to breathe a couple of different ways and get to some enjoyment and interest in this very necessary breathing thing, and also, while we are at it, let the breathing be a fun way of getting some mobility in our pelvis, that oft forgotten, magnificently necessary globe between legs and spine.

So, breathe away wonderful humans, and let’s have some variety. Like this, puff out the belly a little and arch the back and let the butt come back a little and breathe in. The come to straighter and breathe out. Do that a few or many times and let the sternum rise a little while the belly comes out and the air comes in.


Notice the way the pelvis rotates during this, especially if you are on a chair. Notice the rolling forward on the sit bones as the belly comes on. But, let’s not get stuck in this habit. Let’s check out the other way around, belly out and breathe out, with all the other good stuff staying in action, pelvis rolling, chest coming forward and up, spine lengthening. Just blow the air out while we do this. Confused? Cough while you are going about this and you’ll see just how to do it.

Fine. Rest. Be happy, sense gravity. Notice breathing.

And now tuck the belly in and push the mid back backward, and let the chest sink a little and the sternum come down and forward and let the pelvis roll back. (Slump, if you are in a chair). Try this with an out breath. As if you are squeezing all the air out of you as you lean forward. Fine. As you straighten, let the air back in. If you want to rock the belly forward as you fill in air, go for it. That’s pleasant, too. If it’s not pleasant, do less, go slower, make it feel good.

Rest, be happy to be breathing and then explore this one. Belly in, back going backward in the middle, and think of breathing into your back, so you are breathing in now, as the belly comes in. The lungs have to expand, too, to let the air in, and that’s fine. Air doesn’t really care, as long as it gets to come in and join the party, bringing you the oxygen you know and need.

Belly in breathe in, and come forward, belly out breathe out. Try that and have some fun.

If you really want to get fancy, explore this: belly in, breathe out, belly out, breathe out, with the in breath just sneaking in on the sly between the too.

Will this cure all back woes?

No. But it will start you on a path of happy breathing and freedom from habit, and down the path of exploration and learning. This will make your brain/you happy and from there the skies the limit as far as improvement goes.


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