Exercises- Rising and Falling

Let’s begin by getting into the best position for this exercise. 

Note that this exercise should be possible for everyone, unless you have recent leg injuries, or acute lower back pain. If your lower back pain is chronic and long term rather than acute, this is a good recuperative and strength-building exercise that trains your core muscles to protect the lower back. 

  1. So, open your arms out wide. Keeping your shoulders relaxed, stretch from fingertip to fingertip
  2. Step your feet out so that they are about the same distance apart as your arms. The distance should give you the space to be able to bend into a sumo-style squat. In this squat the knees go out to the sides—not forwards. To do this you will need to turn your feet out about 45 degrees so that they are half-way between facing forwards and being fully turned out. If you have seen sumo wrestlers or ballet dancers doing these squats, these images might help you to visualise the position.
  3. Now let your arms relax down.
  4. Make sure that your tail bone is tilted forward a little so that you have a natural curve in your lower back. The rest of your spine lifts up, strong and straight above the curve of your lower back.
  5. Test the position by bending both knees out to the sides in a steady squat.

     For some people this may be a shallow squat. Others may be able to go down quite low. You just need to be able to lift in and out of the squat with the feeling that your leg muscles are engaging and working strongly. If you are flexible, do not let your tailbone drop down below your knee height when you squat, as this may strain your knees as you come up.

  1. In contrast to the strong work in the legs, the movement in your arms is going to be soft and flowing. As you go through this exercise notice that contrast.
  2. So, bring your arms out in front of you, each one in a soft curve, your palms facing down to the floor, the fingers tips almost touching, as though you were trying to hold a big pillow without squashing it.
  3. Take a long, smooth inhale through the nose, and exhale. On the next exhale, slowly bend your knees into a squat and let your hands and arms float down in slow motion, as though they were being supported on a cushion of air. Take care to keep the muscles in your shoulders, arms and hands soft. 
  4. As you inhale, rise up slowly from the squat until your legs are straight. As you do this your hands and arms float up, as though they were rising like soft mist.
  5. Do this again. Down on the exhale. Up on the inhale. Allow yourself to follow the natural flow of your breath as you continue this pattern. 

With each exhale you drop steadily into the squat, your hands floating down at the same time. With each inhale you lift slowly out of the squat, your hand floating up like mist as you rise.

  1. As you get used to your breath leading you up and down, soften your focus. Allow your eyes to relax and follow the rise and fall of your hands.
  2. If comfortable, you can try half-closing or fully closing your eyes. 
  3. Focus on your breath, and the contrast in your body between the strong muscle work of the legs and the softness of the rise and fall of your arms.
  4. Repeat this pattern 5-10 times. You can increase this number if you are enjoying the flow of the movements.
  5. Notice how your heartbeat is getting faster as the large muscle groups in your legs work, bringing more blood to the muscles.
  6. Towards the end of the exercise, make the last one or two squats even slower.
  7. As you finish, stay standing with your feet apart, and your arms relaxed at your sides.
  8. Take another long slow inhale, and then open your mouth and exhale fully.
  9. Repeat this, inhaling through the nose and then opening your mouth to exhale, as though your breath is mist and you are sighing away tension.

 

Conclusion

 

There you are, rising and falling. If you feel at ease with this combination of breath and movement you can build the number of repetitions until it becomes a steady, mindful practice that helps you with focus and concentration as well as releasing tension from the body. Hopefully, it can help you to ease out of a hyper-vigilant state or a dark mood.