August 25, 2014
Filed Under Keep Tahoe Strong
What does it mean to live an embodied life?
In this article, South Shore Certified Rolfers, Gibney Siemion and Justin Salamon, share their tools to live a full life through proper breathing.
What does it mean to live an embodied life? Embodiment, in one sense, means to live with more awareness in our bodies. Sensing and feeling our movements and vital processes creates more fluidity and better biomechanical function. This is distinct from normal consciousness where we tell our body what to do in a linear, and often forced, sense. Being embodied means that you are able to listen to your body’s signals and move with it, rather than against it.
In Tahoe we value activities in the elements; whether it is on the lake or in the mountains, on the snow or the trails. Sometimes pain and injury come between us and our favorite activities, forcing us to take a step back. This can be an ideal time to reassess our approach to our bodies and ask “Are my daily movement patterns supporting or detracting from my physical health?”
In the following article, we offer ideas on how to find awareness to enhance your embodiment, and in many cases free you from pain. Stay tuned for future articles that suggest new ways of thinking about and moving your body to enhance your health and well-being.
Using Breath to Enhance Awareness and Achieve Freedom from Pain
How often are you at work with your back, neck or feet aching? Does discomfort stop you from achieving goals or playing with your children and friends? Do you push through the discomfort? You may not realize that you are becoming numb to the pain. In agreement with the saying “move it or lose it”; movement is an indicator of physical health. When areas of our bodies lose movement due to pain, injury or habitual use/non-use, our health is diminished. When movement is restored, in the form of large-scale mobility and subtle yet vital motility, health returns to our bodies. Developing a foundation of attentiveness can help you regain motion, free you from discomfort and make your body a more comfortable place to live. Breath is fundamental and our starting point for enhancing awareness.
It goes without saying that breathing is essential to our health. We can only live a few minutes without breathing as compared to several days without water and a month or more without food. Surprisingly, few people are conscientious of their breath. Are you aware of your breath as you read this page? If you just became aware, pat yourself on the back. Now use your hands to sandwich your body and sense each breath. Begin with one hand on your abdomen and the other on your lower back. Take a full, deep breath and feel the subtle movement between your hands. Then, transfer your hands to your chest and mid-back and take another full breath. Lastly, sandwich your rib cage with one hand on each side beneath your arm. Acknowledge the areas that move easily, and those that are still. Enjoy finding places that your breath reaches and explore the challenge of allowing breath to go to places that is does not. Remember that wherever you have ribs, you have lungs and because our bodies have elastic properties, we can even feel the movement of breath in our feet and our head! Each breath oxygenates the blood, delivers nutrients to the cells, transports wastes from the cells, and increases overall vitality.
Areas of our bodies that do not move easily are often the most uncomfortable and difficult to find with our breathing, thereby inhibiting physiological processes. Go ahead and contract a muscle and then try to invite your breath into that area. It’s challenging isn’t it? Gaining awareness through breath can alert us to aches and soreness that we had been unconscious of previously, but it can also aid in the release of chronic holding patterns which underlie the pain and discomfort. There are many ways to bring healthy movement into our bodies but awareness is the first step. Remember to pat yourself on the back every time you are aware of your breath.
Take home idea: When you are experiencing discomfort, turn your attention to your breath. Allow it to flow into the affected area and release. This is a first, important step to regaining a pain-free body.