Build on exercise to master abdominal breathing. Objective is to add focus on the feet to experience being able to move energy out of the shoulders and send it down to the feet and hands for use in routine movement.
Step 1. Lie down with back flat, tailbone down, legs flat on the floor slightly apart aligned with hips, feet turned in, for males, left big toe is placed over right toenail, for females right big toe covers left big toenail.
Step 2. Place hands on abdominal area in order to feel the movement, preferably below navel (or just above navel if that is more comfortable.) Hands should be in either position learned in Class One: thumbs touching, one hand covering the other, making a circle; or thumb and middle finger touching, index finger pointed straight.
Step 3. Inhale pushing abdominal muscles out, starting at the lowest part of the abdominal area and rolling the movement up into the chest as you inhale. Focus on feeling your breath travel from your nose to deep into your abdominals on the front side of your body. At the end of the inhalation, pause before exhaling. Focus on dropping/relaxing the shoulders as you pause.
Step 4. Exhale slowly, about four times longer than the inhalation or longer. As you exhale, focus on the shoulders to relax them during the exhalation. Play at relaxing the shoulders. Focus on feeling the air travel primarily on the backside of your body from your abdominal muscles around the tailbone, and up the spine, around the head and out the nose.
Beginning exercise to develop arched back posture for balance and strengthening lower back. Objective is to gain balance in posture to facilitate free flow of energy and prevent storing energy as tension in the shoulders.
Step 1. Lying down, on one side. With thumb and middle finger touching and index finger pointing straight, cradle head and neck in the arm on the floor. The arm on top should be relaxed, hand on floor or under face (maintain finger position on both hands.) Feet together, knees together, bend knees slightly. Relax all joints.
Step 2. Isolate lower back and abdominal muscles through slight movement coordinated with breathing. Put a slight inward arch in lower back by pushing abdominal muscles out as you inhale. As you exhale, squeeze abdominal muscles in a way that maintains the arch in your lower back.
Step 3. When you are ready, engage your feet in coordination with breathing. On an inhalation, point big toes of both feet down in unison (like a ballet dancer). As you exhale, pull both big toes in unison up toward shins.
Beginning exercise to develop effective shoulder blade position especially in sitting position. Objective is to gain balance in posture to facilitate free flow of energy and prevent storing energy as tension in the shoulders.
Step 1. Sit on the edge of a chair, feet on floor, legs slightly apart, dropped straight from the hips, arms relaxed, hands in lap using either the hands together thumbs touching position or thumb and middle finger touching position.
Step 2. On an inhalation, push abdominal muscles out, roll hips forward and arch lower back slightly in (toward abdominals.)
Step 3. On exhalation, squeeze abdominal muscles taut; drop shoulder blades straight down into mid back. With abdominals engaged, naturally and without effort, the lower back will be arched and neck will pull straighter, lifting head.
Step 4. (For driving posture) Grasp steering wheel at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions with the thumb resting on the outside of the wheel (side nearest you) middle, ring and little fingers curled around the wheel, and index finger pointing toward windshield. Relax the middle finger; hold the wheel with tension in the thumb, the ring and little fingers. Use the posture and breathing techniques in steps one through three while driving. Drop shoulders on each exhalation.
Build on exercise to develop Art of Walking by engaging feet and focusing energy out through the feet to propel the body in normal walking. Objective is to expend the same or less energy to achieve a given activity.
Step 1. Review the walking exercise from Class One. Assume the correct standing position from Class One, including the hand position with thumb and middle finger touching and index finger pointing.
Step 2. Standing still, inhale. As you begin exhalation, focus on the foot you will move forward first as you begin walking. Before you move, focus on the other foot you are leaving on the ground. Press the big toe of that foot (the one you are leaving on the ground) firmly into the ground and propel your body forward with the ball of the foot and big toe. Land the foot you are moving by landing on the heel (naturally, on the outside of heel) and rolling the foot from back to front concentrating on this foot (which is now the foot planted on the ground) and beginning to press the toe and ball of the foot to lift the other leg off the ground.
Step 3. The idea is to take as many steps as you can during an exhalation. Continuing to exhale, and experience “walking with your feet” not your legs. You are pushing off the ground by driving your energy into your feet and not by lifting your feet with your thigh muscles.
Step 4. Practice this method until you are able to blend your breathing into this method. Strive to inhale on two to four steps and exhale on as many steps as you can, up to the number of steps it takes to walk a city block.
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