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Lions Roar : January 2003
78 SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2003 remain perfectly still or use your hands to learn more about your breathing. 2. Lying on bolster to open chest: If you regularly sit in a car or at a desk, you may have a tenden- cy to sink in the chest. This makes it difficult to get a full breath into the tips of the lungs. Lying on your back, place a bolster or pillow under the bottom edges of your shoulder blades so that your arms can comfortably extend out to the sides or overhead. Your neck should feel long. You can put a pillow under your head if the neck arch is too much. This position is a big heart opener and you may feel too vulnerable, in which case you can start with a smaller pillow. Stay in the pose for three to five minutes. 2. Supine cobbler’s pose: This position creates space in the hip sockets, releasing blocked pelvic energy. It also enables the natural movement of the breath to deepen by freeing the diaphragm. If you are tight in the hamstrings or groins, be sure to place pillows under your thighs so they are supported. You don’t want to open your hips too fast. That would be stressful and not helpful for releasing the breath. Stay in this pose for five to ten minutes. 3. Twist: Twisting opens the intercostal muscles between each rib, as well as the muscles on the sides of the abdomen. It also massages the liver, spleen and intestines. If your top shoulder doesn’t touch the ground, place a blanket under it so you can relax completely. If the twist is too intense, sepa- rate your knees slightly, so the top one is no longer directly on top of the bottom one. Stay here for one to three minutes. Observe the movement of the breath throughout your entire body. Even though you know you are breathing in and out with your nose, and the air is going into your lungs, the exchange of oxygen and carbon diox- ide is happening throughout your blood- stream. In reality, you are breathing with every cell in your whole body. Soften your mind so you can experience this three-dimensional expansion and con- traction. With every inhalation, your body expands and radi- ates out naturally, creating a sense of expanding, energizing, building and nourishing. When you exhale, your body soft- ens, contracts slightly, and falls back to center, giving the experience of calming and grounding. If you notice this pat- tern even once a day, you will naturally begin to free the breath, an important key to unlocking the fullness of your life potential. Breath awareness is not only a way to know ourselves, it is the primary method for connecting with the pulsation of every- thing, everywhere. ♦ CYNDI LEE is founder of the OM Yoga Center in New York City, and author of OM Yoga: A Guide to Daily Practice, published by Chronicle Books.