EXERCISE 1 : THE BREATH
Discover your breath and its ability to release tension as you put your "brain breath connection" to work. Using our breath effectively is an exercise in and of itself! Most of us are shallow in our breathing. The exercise to follow is great for getting in touch with the diaphragm and lead us into full breaths and better body awareness.
1) Laying on your back, on the Floor, take a few breaths in and out.
Breathe slowly, be aware of where your breath is going. Try to identify which part of your Torso, if any, is receiving specific attention.
Next, try and send your breath to your spine intentionally, then try the sides of you torso thinking of the width of your ribs, if these are going well and your beginning to gain a sense of direction and control then add one more layer.
2) Now that you are thinking of your breath and you have felt your body taking it to specific places ...
As you inhale, touch the back of your rib on the floor beneath you. For scoliosis there is a concavity area in the ribs that is typically a little more challenging to inhale into, take your time inhaling and send your attention and breath to that concavity area. It can help to touch your back to encourage your ribs to expand in this area as well.
Now that your air is going to the back of your ribcage, see if you can inflate less in your abdomen, this will really help you isolate your breath to the back of the ribs and gain more expansion in the concavity area.
Last , think of only the middle of your back. Specifically the T8 vertebrae, just below the points of your scapula. Inhale into the sides of the ribcage at this height of the spine. Send your breath there, thinking of expansion and stretching the muscles in your back body tissues. To wrap up this exercise take 3 deep breaths inflating your abdomen. To create balance at the end of any time of exercise is our goal.
3) Try to have a routine of breath exercise in this supine position on a regular basis. Try doing 5 focused breaths for each area : Back of the ribs, Sides of the ribs, Concavity area, Belly. The awareness of your body and your "brain breath connection" will continue to develop as you practice this. Control of your Breath is the first tool toward stretching your body from the inside out!
The Next time your back is pain, try this exercise, test your controlled breathing by sending your breath to the area where there is pain and as you exhale attempt to let the pain go. Relax, and keep breathing until the pain is gone.
EXERCISE 2: THE BREATH SEATED
Come to a seated position, where you can feel your sitting bones, and now try to imagine you are still on the floor breathing into the mid-back and sides of the ribcage. (see exercise 1)
begin the same breathing exercise listed in exercise 1, and notice your bodies subtle differences in a seated position verses laying down.
feel your sitting bones becoming your roots into the ground and imagine the top of your head is drawn toward the ceiling like a magnet. Maintain the length of your spine as you do your 5 breaths : back of the ribs, sides of the ribs, concavity, and abdomen.
See if you can feel the "tightness" in certain parts of your body relax after breathing into them . Ask those tight sticky places relax with your breath.
Its important to train your mind and your breath in different postures. This will strengthen your ability to use your breath to help release tension and pain in your body.
Knowing your body through your brain breath connection, provides an internal stretch , and this way of approaching your breath when applied to movement is a wonderful thing. To have control of the direction of your breath will lead to more connected movement .
Some things you might expect as a result of trying this breathing exercise are: Lightness of body , ease in breathing, a lifting of the spine from the inside, a new expanse in your breathing, noticing you are energized, or feeling calm.
EXERCISE 3 : KNEE FLOATS EXERCISE
Essentially , we are all calibrating our movements throughout the day based on the structure we are living in - our bodies. The design of them is not up to us , but how we live in our structure is!
No matter how long you have been moving every time you attempt a new session of Pilates you can always focus on how you are starting that day. Considering what your week, day, morning has been like before you start moving is important.
Once you have considered how you're feeling, stretching, breath work, or release work maybe necessary prior to doing any big movements.
Once your feeling ready, an exercise I always teach beginning clients and especially Scoliosis clients is how to feel Neutral laying on their back, and how to to perform KNEE FLOATS.
Knee floats are a core and balancing exercise for your Transverse abdominal & Spinal Multifidus Muscles, deep iliopsoas, and superficial psoas. In this exercises you will learn to understand your neutral spine positioning, how to set up your legs in Tabletop Position, and how to move your legs in the Marching motion.
If you have Scoliosis use a folded towel, smart spine triangles ( smartspine.com), or several towels in the Concavity of your body caused by the curve in your spine. Lying flat on the ground on your back while maintaining your natural curve in your neck and lumbar spine there will be "extra space" in the concavity of the scoliosis. Filling this space helps create greater proprioception for a body working with Scoliosis. Therefore maintaining a healthy true neutral position once you begin to do your Supine Breath Work , and adding Table Top position for the legs.
Laying on your back , with neutral positioning, and propping of any concavity (the space side of your back due to scoliosis) Begin taking those same large INHALES into the back and sides of the body with some inflation in the low abdomen, as in Exercise 1 above.
EXHALE, keeping the neutral spine ( no movement in the spine/pelvis) and allow yourself to raise your bent legs into the air.
INHALE quickly, and EXHALE as you lower and raise each leg, 1 at a time. Do 10 repetitions.
Continue this exercise daily until you are able to feel your Concavity back Muscles helping your stabilize your body as you move the legs.
Why do you need this work if you have scoliosis?
The muscles mentioned above are "core muscles" , which means that they are closest to your skeletal structure. The goal is to create strength and awareness close to our skeleton when working with scoliosis. The star muscle of the core activation is the Transverse Abdominal Muscle ( called "TA" in cuing and teaching environments) combined with the Multifidus muscles of the spine.
Good luck and Happy Core Muscle Training!
All exercises should be check by your doctor before beginning any exercise routine. If you are cleared to exercise email me if you are unclear about directions or work on this exercise with you local instructor.