Three self-care moves will leave you energized and ready for a new beginning.
You’ve made up your mind to start a new chapter in 2017, but if you’re carrying the mental and physical burdens of 2016, it’s going to be slow going. The good news is that you can use simple movement-based techniques to help release the literal or metaphorical load and restore a measure of flexibility and equilibrium. Here are a self-care technique and two body-release exercises from Jill Miller, self-care expert and creator of “Treat While You Train,” that are designed to help you press the reset button and feel ready for anything.
To get started, you’ll need one Coregeous Ball.
Equipment: Coregeous Ball
Your lower back is where all your core support muscles interconnect, and it’s an area that’s often long-suffering. Refueling this area gives your lumbar region a lift that benefits the rest of your body. Consider this move as a way to erase the slump from last year and put a jet pack on your back — so you can leave the grind behind you and move forward into the future!
- Lie down and place the Coregeous Ball under your lower back, where there is a collection of tissue called the thoracolumbar fascia, which is the hub of your lower back’s integrity. Let your body rest on the ball and take a couple of breaths.
- Hold the ball lightly in place, and pivot your body on the ball. The ball will twist and pin the tissues of your lower back. Continue to pivot until you feel a light pinch, and then breathe until it subsides.
- Hold the ball and pivot on top of the ball in the opposite direction, feeling the gentle pinch and remaining in place until it subsides.
- Return to center and sit up. You’ll feel a rush of warmth in your lower back.
Tapotement is a massage therapy technique that involves light drumming or tapping. For this exercise, you’ll hold your breath to transform your core into a tubular percussion instrument. Holding your breath and releasing it helps the Golgi tendon organs that connect to your breathing muscles induce deep relaxation throughout those same muscles. You will look silly (I wish I were doing this in a closet, too), but you’ll feel great.
- Take a deep breath in, hold it and stiffen your core.
- Start tapping your torso. Tap and thump high and low, on your front, your sides and, if you can reach it, your back.
- Any kind of tapping or thumping is fine as long as you keep your wrists loose.
- Exhale, and feel your deeper breathing capacity restored.
- Let your breathing return to normal, and then perform another cycle.
Roll Up, Roll Down
Susan Klein, founder of the Susan Klein School of Movement and Dance, taught this slow-motion technique to me when I was a modern dancer 20 years ago. Each bone in your spine moves independently. As you slowly articulate the entire front and back of your body, you let go of tension and feel restored. It’s a gradual release that should take a full five minutes.
- Stand in impeccable alignment.
- Let your skull nod forward. Then let each of the seven cervical vertebrae curl in succession, followed by the 12 thoracic vertebrae. You’ll need to use your anterior core muscles to help slow down your movement as you roll forward.
- As you continue through the lumbar vertebrae, let the soft tissues of your back and legs lengthen. You may need to bend your knees as you continue to roll down through your pelvis and hips; otherwise, let those soft tissues be pulled long as you reach for the ground.
- As your hands make contact with the floor, let your knees bend and your body compress into a fetal squat. You can lift your heels off the ground, if necessary.
- Now, slowly begin to roll back up. Lean forward, putting your weight into your hands as you begin to lengthen your legs and straighten your knees.
- Your abdominal muscles will kick in as you continue to roll up, but remember to let everything else hang as you slowly stack those vertebrae on top of one another, until you’ve returned to your upright starting position.
Photography: Todd Domenic Cribari, InspiroStudio.com
Hair and make-up: Mariah Nicole Buian, MariahNicole.com