Shrug it off
Weather whiplash seems to be the new normal. Last week here in Amherst we were below zero, now it feels like spring... In volatile times like these, keeping our energy flowing and aligned is essential for staving off seasonal illnesses, keeping our moods in balance, and supporting our overall resilience.
I've found myself doing the following exercises a lot lately when I'm feeling out of whack and when I notice my shoulders are up by my ears from cold or stress. If that sounds familiar, I recommend giving them a try. They are especially helpful at the first signs of a cold or other illness to stimulate and support your immune system as well as when you're feeling a bit stagnant and congested.
This exercise increases circulation, bringing warmth and space to the vital area between the shoulders, freeing up stuck energy and tension. If it's your first time, I recommend doing it while seated with a straight spine.* First, inhale through the nose while bringing your shoulders high up towards your ears, then exhale through the nose while letting them drop them down.
Start slowly and then speed up, keeping your breath coordinated with the movement. When moving quickly focus on the exhale, as if you're pumping out air with your shoulders. Repeat for as long as is comfortable, then finish with a few slow deep breaths. Notice warmth seeping in, stress slipping away, and a fresh burst of energy.
**Always check in with your own body before starting a new practice, and don't do anything that doesn't feel right. We sometimes hold unexpressed emotions in our necks and shoulders, so the shrugs might release some emotion. Be compassionate with yourself and take it slowly. I am always happy to discuss and provide support.
The Four Thumps
Another great restorative and balancing exercise you can do throughout the day any time or place is the "Four Thumps," the first part of Donna Eden's Five Minute Energy Routine (which I talk about all the time and wholeheartedly recommend to everyone!).
Using the pads of three fingers, begin tapping on your cheekbones while breathing in deeply through the nose and out through the mouth three times. Then move on and do the same on the points in the images below--the K-27 points in the divots beneath the collar bones, on the Thymus point in the middle of the sternum, and the Spleen points either below the breasts in line with the nipples or to the sides about four inches below the armpits.
(These photos from Donna Eden's website show three of the "thumps"--the first is on the cheekbones.)
Tapping on these points stimulates and supports the immune system and can boost energy and vitality. You can tap vigorously with your fingers or even tap with your fists. Some days you'll notice certain spots are tender, which is an indication of congestion that could use some shaking out.
I would love to hear how these exercises go for you. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions or concerns or just to share your experience.