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Breathe yourself to zero balance.

You're sitting in your office chair on a busy Monday afternoon or stuck behind the wheel of your car in rush hour traffic. Your head is pounding and your back hurts, and you just can't seem to get centered. You're feeling bad not because of the gridlock or the phone ringing off the hook, but because you've forgotten the most important thing in your life. It's the reason you got up this morning, and it's your favorite thing to do in the world, so go ahead and ... breathe! Not only have most of us forgotten to let in the breath of life because of the day's stresses, but we've also lost touch with the fundamental magic of free breathing that babies are born knowing. Your ability to breathe has become comprised by injuries received in the form of tonal, emotional or physical traumas. These injuries could have happened at any stage of your development: in utero, birth, childhood, adolescence or adulthood.

With the return of diaphragmatic breathing, the massage action of the diaphragm on the internal organs, glands, and spine will stimulate an increase in circulation of the blood, lymphatic, and nervous systems, helping the internal organs and glands to return to a state of health. The breath will also help to stabilize the lumbar spine so that we have the ability to stand or sit in erect posture, returning us to zero balance. This can activate the cranial/sacral pump, increase our range of motion and our aerobic ability.

Rediscovering Diaphragmatic Breathing with the Platter Position

Lie on your back with your knees up and slightly separated, feet flat on the floor, chin tucked down towards the chest, the back of the neck extended upward comfortably, and your shoulder blades pulled back and down touching the floor while pushing the low back into the floor. As you begin to draw in air, first you will feel your belly begin to expand, pull the lower abdominal muscles into and toward the belly button and anchor the stomach muscles to keep the belly from blowing outward and filling with air. As the air begins to expand the ribs, feel it pushing behind the abdominal muscle wall down into the pelvic area expanding through the rectum while feeling the movement all the way around to your back bone, and simultaneously you should feel the area of your crotch and your sides expand outward. Then allow the air to completely fill and expand the chest cavity up into the shoulders and throat. When you exhale, contract the stomach muscles deeper into the abdomen to push the air upward and outward, deflating the trunk of the body from abdomen to chest. Throughout this process, try not to engage any shoulder or arm movement during the breath. Congratulations! You have just taken your first complete breath. As you become more comfortable with how it feels to take a true breath that provides oxygen to your entire body, you will know during a stretch if you are shallow breathing to protect injured areas or if you can breathe deeply through the stretch. This breath that you feel is the one to focus on when we tell you to breathe into a stretch. You need to practice this breath so that it becomes a natural breathing pattern for you when you are stretching in your quiet, low-light environment. We also recommend that in this stress filled world we live in, you learn to incorporate this breath into your daily routine. Learn to be comfortable with it, feel it move through your body and remember to relax.

The Platter Stretch

Goal: To become body aware.

Lie down on your back and feel your body test on both shoulder blades, sacrum/low back and occipital bone. Stretch out the back of your neck so that the occipital bone rests on the floor. Do this by pulling your chin down into the front of your neck. Your legs should be bent and feet flat on the floor and near the buttocks, There should be no space between the floor and your shoulder blades; and the sacrum should be flat on the floor. If your low back feels tight, arched or uncomfortable in any way; roll your hips and pull your sacrum down and into the floor. See Figure 2. Breathe. Hold position for 1 to 5 breaths.

To bring the shoulder blades into position, push the back of the arms into the floor slightly lifting the chest off of the floor and contract the muscles located at the base of each shoulder blade and near the spine at the level of mid-back and upper low back pulling the shoulder blades down toward your buttocks and back into the floor. Once positioned, relax the arras out to your sides. See Figure 3. Breathe. Hold position for 1 to 5 breaths.

If possible, have someone check the position of your shoulder blades. The top of your shoulder blades should be as flat against the floor as possible. Your spotter should not be able to feel the underneath side of the shoulder blades. While in this position, begin to breathe deeply feeling your breath go throughout the body. This position will help you to evaluate the health of your low back.

Challenge: to constantly attempt to more the shoulder blades down and back while keeping the chin down and low back on the floor and breathing.


Sande Collison teaches workshops and classes in Breathergy stretching and breathwork. To learn more, visit or contact her at 828-349-9684.
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Article Details
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Author:Collison, Sande
Publication:New Life Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2004
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