Office Hour: Movement and Mindfulness Practices to Release Stress with Dani Parker

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Published on ‎06-30-2021 01:46 PM by Guide | Updated on ‎07-14-2021 09:19 AM

Join Guide Dani for an Office Hour to learn how simple movement and mindfulness practices can help release stress from the body. With so much shifting and changing around us right now, Dani will support you with accessible practices to ground your mind and regulate your nervous system anytime, anywhere.

 

Come with all your Qs for Dani, such as—

 

  • What are some simple breath practices to get grounded?
  • What movements support with releasing stress and anxiety?
  • How do breath and mindfulness practices help regulate my nervous system?
  • What are some options for subtle breath or movement practices I can do when dealing with stress in public?
  • How do I know when my body needs more rest and when it needs more movement/release?

 

Click on the link to join the conversation!

You can drop your questions on stress management, embodiment practices, breath work and mindfulness to this post linked: HERE, and I will be back to answer them directly on Wednesday 7/14 at 9am PST. You deserve to find what makes you feel good in your own body and mind—let's explore it all together.



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Start:
Wed, Jul 14, 2021 09:00 AM PDT
End:
Wed, Jul 14, 2021 10:00 AM PDT
13 Comments
mmyogabeach
Member

Hi @Dani_P ! I hear a lot about circular (or square?) breathing - can you recommend the best way to calm yourself in a short amount of time? I notice I hold my breath when I'm anxious and would love to know best way to get back into breathing calmly.

Hi @mmyogabeach! Thank you for bringing this question to the space and I totally hear you about noticing shorter or withheld breath cycles when feeling anxious -- you are definitely not alone.

 

Feeling anxious is often a result of dysregulation of the nervous system and can be caused by stressors from our external environment or past stressors that get triggered. It's also a signal from our bodies that something needs to be felt, heard, seen and attended to just like we would a loved one so it can be RELEASED from our space rather than withheld.

 

Anxiety shows up differently for everyone and the ways that feel best to be with it and move through it will be unique to each of us as well. Below are a few techniques I often share with clients -- try each one for yourself and notice what feels best in your body:

 

1. Box Breathing (or Square Breathing) -- you mentioned this above and I LOVE this breathing technique for down regulating the nervous system and returning to a place of calm and inner peace. To practice, find a comfortable space that feels safe to drop into your body. Start by finding a soft focus/gaze ahead of you or close your eyes and exhale all of the air from your lungs to empty out. Then inhale through your nose for 4 counts, pause at the top and hold for 4 counts. Then exhale through the mouth for 4 counts, pause at the bottom as you empty for 4 counts. Repeat until you notice a shift in your mood, energy and sense of groundedness.

 

2. Holotropic Breathwork - this a much more active breathing practice, although I like to use it in a slower, more integrating way when I need to release and find a sense of groundedness as well. Again, find a space that you feel comfortable and safe to ground into your body and find a comfortable seat or laying down position. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart and let your awareness settle towards your inner space. Start by taking one big sip of air into the belly, then a second big sip of air into the chest (both through the mouth), and then exhale one breath through the mouth. I like to imaging each inhale navigating through my body and gathering up the emotions, feelings and energy that aren't serving me and then releasing them on the exhale. Repeat until you notice a shift!

 

3. Shake your body! Movement is another incredibly quick and efficient way to shift energy and mood. When you feel overstimulated or like sitting down to just breathe isn't an option at the moment, try this: stand up and start to shake your right wrist for 30sec-1min. Repeat with the left wrist. Then move down to the right foot/ankle and follow with the left. Then allow your entire body to move, shake, dance -- however you need to move and visualize yourself literally shaking off the stuff you don't need to carry. Repeat as many times as you need until you feel a release and then pause with your feet on the ground, place your hands on your body and breathe into where you're arriving (this can also be done seated!).

 

I also always like to note that working with a medical professional is always recommended if you are experiencing severe symptoms, these practices are meant to be supportive for your day-to-day life!

 

I hope this supports you! Let me know how it goes. 🙂

DrRozalynPT
Member

How do you attend ?

Hi @DrRozalynPT ! So great to meet you -- happy to answer your questions here or on my post! Looking forward to connecting with you!

mimi4064
Member

Morning - I am curious to know when to rest vs when to be more active.  I feel so much better when I am active but I think sometimes that is actually not helping me.  Trying to learn to rest.

Hi @mimi4064 ! Thank you for dropping in with this question -- I think A LOT of us can relate. I most certainly can. There was another thread in the Community space where we were chatting about this, and I'm going to share my response here as well.

 

I believe movement is an incredible tool to help us release, to get out of our heads and to come back into our bodies. But just as important as movement is to building strength + shifting our mood and energy, is rest's role in giving our WHOLE being a chance to really restore and recover.

 

We all have a different relationship with rest. I know for me, slowing down has often felt uncomfortable because it forces me to just BE with my thoughts and emotions without escape. I've also gone through a lot of my life feeling like my worth was attached to how much I could achieve and accomplish and DO -- and just "being" didn't feel like "enough."

 

That being said, working on my relationship to rest has been one of the most profound and impactful journeys of my life. Slowing down is uncomfortable because we don't often practice it. But it's in the slowing down, in the pause, in the "in-between" where we actually have the space to connect with ourselves and the quiet whispers of our knowing underneath all the loud noise of the world around us. It's uncomfortable and totally worth it. Below are a few tips I would recommend in exploring your own relationship with rest:

 

1. Try adding in 1-2 rest days during the week -- especially if you're doing intense workouts a lot of the time. Each time you exert in a workout your muscles experience microscopic tears and damage (resulting in the sometimes sore muscle feeling you get after a hard workout!). Rest days allow for fibroblasts to repair our muscles so they continue to rebuild and get stronger. If this science tid-bit is a motivator for you -- use it! 🙂

 

2. Get curious about your relationship to rest and maybe start by journaling on -- "what am I resisting about rest?"  Starting with that personal exploration was really helpful for me in getting to the next phase of figuring out what rest means to me.

 

3. On that note -- rest can mean something completely different for each person and it can change from week-to-week, day-to-day. Let yourself get quiet for a few breaths and really ask your body what it needs that day. Some days it's might be taking yourself to the beach to relax and observe the waves. Other days it may be a guided seated or walking meditation. And other days it may just be doing completely NOTHING. All of it is perfect. Get quiet and practice listening to what YOUR deeper knowing is calling for.

 

4. If you're looking for a rest/recovery practice to support you on rest days, let yourself try different things and explore what you actually enjoy doing! For me, when I find a practice that I truly enjoy I am always more consistent with it. Whether it's meditation, restorative yoga, yoga nidra, nature bathing, a long nap -- find what feels good for you and let yourself enjoy it.

 

5. Let yourself be a beginner. If rest doesn't come naturally to you, that is OKAY and you are definitely not alone. Maybe you'll get 5 minutes in one day and maybe an entire day another day -- just start somewhere and let yourself walk the journey with beginner's eyes.

 

And if you needed the reminder -- you are completely worthy of deep nourishing rest, and I promise you will feel even stronger and more empowered in your workouts when you start incorporating it into your routine! Let me know if any of this resonates and I'd be happy to connect about this further with you. I'm really passionate about this topic!

HI @Dani_P - Thank you for your great thoughts and wisdom.  I tend to overdo to the point of breaking parts or wearing them out (bike accidents, soccer mishaps in younger years...).   It was very helpful to read your comprehensive insights and recommendations - so much appreciated.  I have been working for years on trying to be better at resting - yoga, MELT, various mediation techniques, etc etc - but your comments actually gave me new inspiration and new ideas and I am feeling refreshed in facing this challenge. Thank you!

@mimi4064 thank you so much for sharing your journey. We learn so much when we share our stories with one another and I'm so glad to hear some of what I offered resonates with you. Thank YOU!

mimi4064
Member

Morning!  I feel so much better when I am active - sometimes to the point of over doing it.  I need to learn how to get the same  "high" I get from exercising from resting - any tips?

 

Hi @mimi4064 -- I totally hear you and I'm curious to hear how this may shift for you as you start to explore some of what you mentioned resonated in my response below! One perspective I began to try on as I was exploring my relationship with rest is a different kind of "high" you can experience when you relax into deep presence and connection with yourself. It may not make sense in your mind, but you'll know what I mean as you continue to explore and start to feel it in your own space!

 

One other thing I will mention is that for those of us who have a harder time quieting the mind and resist traditional meditation, breathwork is a really helpful precursor to meditation as it helps release some of the energy and sometimes stuckness in the mind and allows you to drop back into your body. Below are a few breathing techniques you can try!

 

1. Box Breathing (or Square Breathing) -- you mentioned this above and I LOVE this breathing technique for down regulating the nervous system and returning to a place of calm and inner peace. To practice, find a comfortable space that feels safe to drop into your body. Start by finding a soft focus/gaze ahead of you or close your eyes and exhale all of the air from your lungs to empty out. Then inhale through your nose for 4 counts, pause at the top and hold for 4 counts. Then exhale through the mouth for 4 counts, pause at the bottom as you empty for 4 counts. Repeat until you notice a shift in your mood, energy and sense of groundedness.

 

2. Holotropic Breathwork - this a much more active breathing practice, although I like to use it in a slower, more integrating way when I need to release and find a sense of groundedness as well. Again, find a space that you feel comfortable and safe to ground into your body and find a comfortable seat or laying down position. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart and let your awareness settle towards your inner space. Start by taking one big sip of air into the belly, then a second big sip of air into the chest (both through the mouth), and then exhale one breath through the mouth. I like to imaging each inhale navigating through my body and gathering up the emotions, feelings and energy that aren't serving me and then releasing them on the exhale. Repeat until you notice a shift!

mimi4064
Member

HI @Dani_P   Me again.  While we are here, I have another question - I would be interested to hear your thoughts on movements to release stress and anxiety.  I am a person that worries alot - I want to fix my body or things that perhaps I should just let go.   I think maybe rest, or quiet, is a bit hard for me as my mind spirals.  What might you recommend in terms of movements to get some relief?

Hi @mimi4064 ! Loving all of these insightful questions -- thank you for bringing them into the space. Movement is an incredible form of release and I find, often one of the quickest ways to shift our energy and our mood. If dropping right into meditation, rest, or quieting the mind is hard for you, I would try one of the below somatic movement practices first and see if that helps you transition into rest with a bit more ease!

 

The below somatic movement practices are designed to help you self-regulate and manage stress by either calming or energizing your body and mind. They can be done anywhere from 30sec-5min, repeat until you notice a shift in your body and awareness. I recommend trying each of them and seeing what feels best in YOUR body!

 

1. Get Grounded - Sitting in a chair, place both feet on the floor and gently press into your feet so  that you feel the muscles in your legs. Notice your legs and how they feel. Imagine your legs as  the strong trunk of a tree supporting you. Take a few deep breaths. You can also take your arms,  cross them and squeeze up and down your arms. This can offer containment and support as well. 

 

2. Shake/Rattle/Roll - Come to a standing position with both feet firmly on the ground and then begin to shake your right arm from the top of your shoulder down through your fingertips. Take a moment to notice the difference between your arms and then switch to shaking your left arm from your elbow to your fingertips. Repeat this with each leg and then let your whole body shake and move until you feel a full release. When you are complete, pause with your hands on your heart and belly and notice the shift in how you feel.

 

3. Stretch It Out - Stretch your arms over your heads and reach for the sky. Then gently fold over and  reach for your toes imagining you can stretch into the earth. Take 3 long, deep breaths and wiggle your spine to release tension. Straighten your back and lift up to a standing position.  Repeat 3 to 5 times.

 

4. Let the Music Move You - Put on a song you love and come to standing with your hands on your body. Begin to focus completely on the sound of the music for a few breaths and then as you feel ready...get up and dance! Don't worry about how it looks, just let yourself move the way your body needs to move.

 

5. Meridian Charging - Stand up and make a loose fist with your left hand and gently begin tapping up and down your right arm. Repeat with the left arm. Then gently tap on your head. Then do the same up and down both legs. Take a long deep breath and notice how your whole body feels.