Now that we have a familiar basic movement and some experience of locational ujjayi breathing, we can try to bring the two together and create a complete experience of breathing and movement.
We will be using the same movement we used when we first introduced movement – raising the hands above the head. A quick reminder: the starting position will be lying on your back, arms along side the body, knees bent & feet standing.
Then as we inhale the arms are raised above the head (remember: to really get your entire arm onto the floor, this may require that you release the shoulders and bend at the elbows – check to see that you get all 10 finger nails, both elbows and both wrists on the floor).
Try just this a few times to make sure that the basic movement and breath experience is available to you. The basic coordination is arms are raised during the inhale and returned on the exhale.
Next, place your hands on your body, one on your chest the other on your abdomen. Take a few breaths to recall the ideas of locational breathing: inhale to the chest, exhale from the abdomen. If you don’t remember the nuisances, go back to the previous article in this series and take time to assimilate the ideas. When you’re finished reading, again practice for a few times. It’s not enough that the mind learns, the idea is to give the body a chance to learn. Practicing gets the job done!
Inhale to Movement
Assume the starting position and prepare as if you are going to raise your arms above your head. Then begin locational ujjayi breathing but don’t actually move your arms. Instead brings your attention to your shoulders. If you can bring the inhale effectively into your chest, you will find that the expansion in the chest will cause movement in your shoulders. As if the breath itself is bringing motion into the shoulders. Take some breaths to get this sensation.
When you can feel your breath affecting your shoulders I invite you to go ahead and lift your arms. This time you will be continuing the momentum that has originated in your breath. Focus. Make sure that you first feel movement in the area of the shoulders that originates with the breath, then let your muscles come into play and continue that movement. Repeat this a few times. When you have finished release your breath and stay attentive, give your entire system time to relax and assimilate the experience.
Exhale to Movement
Now let’s try to find an anchor for experiencing the relationship between exhale and movement. To do this again assume the starting position and as you inhale raise your arms above your head all the way to the floor, but this time leave them there. Continue breathing locational ujjayi breathing, but leave the arms resting on the floor above the head.
Now bring your attention to the exhale and the active involvement of the abdominal muscles. Try to use the abdominal muscles on every exhale to press the lower back to the floor. Repeat this a few times (arms still not moving). Get a sensation of pressing the lower back to the floor. When you have that then again bring your attention back to your shoulders. You may now find that when you exhale your shoulders are now being pulled back toward the center of your body. Keep practicing until you get some sensation of this.
You can now reinstate movement and resume a dynamic practice, but stay focused on the exhale and the returning arms. Again try to make sure that first you feel the pulling in the shoulders and then have the muscles join that effort and bring your arms back. Repeat this a few times.
What’s left to do now is of course to bring it all together – exhale, inhale and movement of the arms. Stay focused on the shoulders and the affect of the locational breathing on them. Try to let the breath lead you into movement.
As we continue to build the relationship between breath and movement we are accumulating more details and more subtleties. Take time to review, to go back and to make sure your attention contains the many details we have explored.
If you feel you have got a good sense of locational breathing and movement I invite you to try one more thing. Repeat all of the excercises in this article but this time change your position. Stretch your legs so that they are straight on the floor. All the rest remains the same. See what happens : )