Brief view of a Movement Rehabilitation Through Experiential Awareness Lesson
This is a brief view of what we might cover in a 45 minute lesson focused on breathing and pelvic floor diaphragms. (What is listed here might be 2 lessons for certain students.) What we actually do, how much material we cover, and what verbal cues we use, depend upon the student's responses/needs and my (hopefully valid) assessments as we continue.
What I have written out here are some of the verbal directions I might give, or what I might write up as a lesson plan.
The specifics of what I say/what we do will vary for each student.
I will encourage the student to ask questions, and then try out what I have described. I watch as they do so. After they have done so, they may have questions or feedback for me; I may have them repeat what they just did and verbally cue them to bring their awareness to different areas of their body as they repeat it, or I may give them other verbal cues.
Typically, in our next lesson, I will review what we did in the previous one- often when a student practices on their own, they realize they have new questions or cannot remember what they were supposed to do. I will repeat basically the same lesson a few times- covering the same material, perhaps from different angles- if that is what the student needs to process and assimilate the material.
1. Breathing diaphragm: The breathing diaphragm sits toward the bottom of the rib cage, its edges up against the inner side of the ribs, with its center part, sort of a dome shape, coming into the center of our body, as if a small parachute were inside our ribs. It is actually 2 domes, each a bit off the center, but it is okay to think of it as one dome.
In its resting position (or exhale position) we can picture its shape like an air filled parachute or a rainbow.
As we inhale, the center of the breathing diaphragm soften downwards and the sides widen. The rainbow shape becomes more of a smile shape.
As we exhale, it returns to its resting position- the center of the diaphragm moves slightly upward and the sides narrow a bit. The smile shape returns to a rainbow shape.
People often find themselves doing one of 2 things when they practice this breathing: Sometimes they pull everything down from their neck to their diaphragm, as they try to get the diaphragm to move down on inhale. One can counter this by imagining, on inhalation, an internal bubble raising /floating up from the level of the rib base to come to rest at the top if the inner skull; and as one exhales, the bubble can either burst of float out through the top of the skull and away. Another way to counter this is to increase the length of the neck, from collarbone height up through the ears, as one inhales.
Sometimes people feel everything pulling up toward their head when they inhale.
One may feel that one is pulling the diaphragm up on inhale for a few reasons: 1) One may be doing so! Keep reminding one self to encourage the center of the diaphragm to soften downward. 2) One may be softening the center of the diaphragm down, but that may be a weaker action than some other upward pulling actions. Again, keep reminding oneself to encourage the center of the diaphragm to soften downward.
While it is true that there is a slight upward motion at the top of the chest on inhalation, it is in response to the downward motion of the diaphragm, and thus a soft expansion, versus lifting the chest to inhale (which actually blocks the actions that need to take place to get a nice full breath in).
While it is also true that the belly will expand slightly upon inhalation, I do not teach pushing the belly out as a way to use the diaphragm. I believe that doing so forces the use/balance of muscles in certain ways that actually hinder the proper ( i.e., the designed) use of the diaphragm
2. Pelvic Floor Theraband: Imagine a theraband (stretchy band made out of balloon stuff), about an inch wide, rolled up. In your mind's eye**, imagine this theraband inside the your pelvis near the bottom. Attach one end of the theraband to the back of the pubic bone, unfurl it toward the back of your pelvis, and attach the other end to the base of your sacrum.
3. Pelvic Floor Theraband Lift: As you inhale, imagine this theraband lifting upward, evenly on all sides (so it does not tilt down to left or right nor to front or back). At first you can just imagine it lifting and lowering as you inhale and exhale. Once you have gotten used to that, you can imagine it lifting with inhale, and staying there as you exhale and inhale, and then lowering on another exhale.
If you know that your pelvic floor needs toning, you can imagine not lowering the theraband all the way down to its starting place.
If you know your pelvic floor tends to be gripped/tightly held, you want to encourage it to soften all the way back to its starting place, maybe even expanding a bit.
This will vary depending upon the person/goal. If you are not sure, just practice the basic version.
*** Some people have a difficult time picturing things in their "mind's eye". Sometimes this gets better with practice. One can try and imagine what this would feel like, or picture it as if one were watching a movie; or one can just keep repeating the words of the verbal cues.