In this articles we will be taking a step that may appear small at first, but without it, it would be difficult to move forward and take the next step. My wish is to bring closer together the ideas of directional breathing & movement.
The explanation about directional breathing focused on the torso – the chest and abdominal area where breathing takes place. Now let’s take a step back and see it in play when looking at the entire body. The following animation is an overlay of the torso movement on a stick-figure of the entire body (the arms have been removed for the sake of clarity, they will soon be reintroduced). The blue dot indicates the focus of movement along the back during the breathing cycle.
You can again see the core idea of directional breathing: (1) inhale begins in the chest and moves down to the diaphragm and then to the abdominal area; (2) exhale begins in the abdominal area and then moves up through the diaphragm and ends in the chest. You may want to revisit the details of this wave movement by re-reading directional-breathing.
Inhale is a top-down movement. Exhale is a bottom-up movement.
Now we will remove the torso, leave the blue dot to remind us where breath-movement is taking place in the spine and introduce a simple movement of the arms. The point of this exercise is simply to stay focused on the directional movement of the breath while performing a simple coordinated physical movement.
You may experience some friction in the mind – there may seem to be a contradiction. When the arms move up the breath moves down, when the arms move down the breath moves up. If you experience this confusion, stop moving the arms. Be still and focus again just on the directional breathing, then when you are ready try again to move the arms.
There is one last exercise you can do when you feel you have made this connection. Try reversing the relationship between breath and movement – raise your arms as you exhale and then lower them as you inhale. How does that feel?