A WEEKLY PRACTISE
By Claire Robertson, Jan 21 2020 10:03AM
This week’s meditation focus brings awareness to your ribcage. One of the most beautiful parts of our being for housing and protecting our heart and cradling our lungs while supporting us to breathe. The reason why I chose the ribcage rather than just the diaphragm, is so we could also experience the connection of both the intercostal muscles (muscles between the ribs) and the serratus anterior, fanning the sides of the ribs (our wings), while gaining experience of how our diaphragm feels when we breathe. Below you will find a practise for each day of this week with one day off, but please do contact me if you need any further details or have any questions. I look forward to seeing you in session!
Day one – (5mins-30mins) Natural breath. Bring your awareness to the sensations of your body around the base of your ribcage where the diaphragm connects into your ribs and your spine. Notice how it feels for you at the front, the sides and the back linking into your vertebrae. You don’t need to change anything. Our body goes through many changes, from tight, to relaxed, open and closed. Just enjoy taking the time to nourish your body by focusing on yourself as you breathe. The body loves gentle attention, let yourself nestle down into the thought that you will be building a relationship resource with your body with this practise.
If you like you can bring your awareness to three distinct areas. The front of your ribcage, an area that’s useful to observe our fight, flight, freeze or excitement triggers. The sides of your ribcage, which will begin to give you the awareness of the lateral ability of the ribs when they move. An important awareness which will pay off tenfold when practising complex pranayama exercises, and finally, the back of the ribcage linking into the spine. The area where your diaphragm, ribs, spine, and psoas (main walking muscles) connect. One of the most deeply stunning parts of your body, for the diaphragm not only connects here but like a tree, goes both up and down your spine, linking and connecting to your whole body as your breathe. A connection, like your best friend, when cultivated and practiced, gives a deep warmth of support.
Day Two – (5mins-30mins) Natural breath awareness. The side of your ribs in-depth. Today you will let your awareness focus on the sides of your ribcage from your armpits to your waist. Keeping your shoulders relaxed, imagine that you open down and out (like the handles on the side of a bucket). However, don’t feel like you have to impose any restrictions, just enjoy observing how it feels for you can give you the valuable nourishment and support that you need. This will get you in touch with the feel of the wings of your body, the side muscles such as the serratus anterior and intercostal muscles to just name a few.
Day Three – (5mins-30mins) Clavicle awareness. With a natural breath, bring your awareness to the sensation of your breathing at the base of your neck and across the top of your chest. Again, it can help to imagine that they go out to the sides, rather than rise, but keep your focus very light here. Just watch the movement of your body and at any time during today’s practise you can let your focus go down lower on the ribs if needed. I just want you to get a sense of how it feels for you there.
Day Four – Relaxed focus Practise one (5mins – 30mins) with a gentle awareness of the movement of your ribcage as a whole, practise the following breathing meditation. Natural inhale, slowed exhale. The difference in this practise is when we consciously slow our exhale we actually recruit a few more muscles to control the descent, so do reserve some time towards the end of your practise to let go of controlling the breath and just return to observing.
Day five – Relaxed focus Practise Two (5mins -30mins) with a gentle awareness of the movement of your rib cage as a whole, practise the following breathing meditation. Natural exhale, slowed inhale. Being gentle with your body and without straining, allow the muscles to relax as your breathe in.
With this practise it helps to focus on the movement at the sides and the base of the ribcage, rather than the clavicles, but you can enjoy how it feels in all parts of your body here. If there’s any sense of over breathing, return to watching the breath until your body returns to feeling comfortable. Aim to be gentler when you start the practise again. It helps to think that the object of the exercise isn’t to lengthen the breath, but to nourish the body.
Day Six - Wave practise one (5mins – 30mins) Natural breath. With a gentle focus (you don’t have to fill up with air completely here) notice your breath as you inhale going from the base of your ribs, then the centre, then the top. Then watch the reverse, top, centre and base. Be really gentle. It is a beautiful practise that will not only improve your breathing muscles, but your capacity to breathe if it is done very gently. Do not over power yourself or your natural ability to breathe, as your natural capability is already a really good resource of support for you. If it feels like you are being missed, return to the previous exercises so you can acknowledge your natural abilities.
Well done for completing your ribcage focus this week! If you do have any questions please, please ask.
I hope you get a chance to feel the sun while practising,
Love Claire Xx