Come to a comfortable seated position. You may consider sitting on a chair, or you may sit up on a pillow or a yoga block. This will help to lengthen the spine. I invite you to bring the left, arm across, place your left hand on your right ribs, and stretch your right arm up and over your head. Take three to five effortless breaths towards the right side of the lungs. After the breaths are completed, relax both arms and notice if you feel any difference between the right and left side of the torso. Now, place your right hand to the left ribs and take three to five effortless breaths. Afer the breaths are completed, relax both arms back to center. Notice any sensation in the body. Is it easier to breathe into the sides of your body? Next, place both hands on the lower back area and take three to five breaths. Notice if you can feel your breathing in the lower back area. Can you possibly expand with the breaths in every direction? Relax your arms and see how you feel by taking in breaths to the sides and the back of the body. Do you feel more freedom? More movement? Lastly, rest your hands on the belly area and take three to five effortless breaths in the belly. Can you completely relax with every breath? What feelings come up while you’re practicing these breaths? Is it pleasant? Is it relaxing? Once the last breath has been completed, relax your arms and sit for another few minutes with your eyes closed. Enjoy the benefits of the exercise.


onnecting breath and the movement exercise

In yoga, we strive to create openness. This openness that we achieve by practicing breathing, yoga asanas and meditation shows up in our lives as well. We must deeply study our being and recognize places where we hold restrictions, suppression, and closeness. Once we observe these obstacles, they become easier to work with. The following exercise helps us understand the difference between closeness and openness. It also helps demonstrate how the breath links to movement and how each posture may serve to open the body and energize it, and how it may serve to close and relax it.

Sit in a comfortable seated position. Gently rest your hands on the top of your thighs, palms facing upward, forming a not-too-tight fist. With your next inhalation, allow your fists to unfold. Follow each finger while breathing in. With your exhalation, allow your fingers to start moving back into a fist. Follow every finger while breathing out. Repeat this a few more times. Now extend this movement into your arms. With your inhalation, start lifting the arms away from your thighs in a half circular movement. Lift them only below your shoulders while externally rotating the arms. Feel the expansion of the chest and the heart. With your exhalation, start internally rotating the arms and guiding the arms back towards your thighs. With each repetition, you may exaggerate; allow your inhalation to lift not only the chest and heart but also the neck and head, up to the sky. With your exhalation, you may allow the whole upper body to deflate while the torso falls closer to the legs and the chin drops to the chest. Repeat this movement a few more times. Is the movement causing the breath or is the breath causing the movement? What do you think? With practice, we develop a sense of connection between breaths and movement. Eventually, we allow our breaths to move our whole being with grace.


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