SPINAL CORD BREATHING
Spinal cord breathing focuses on the movement of the lower back and the spine through the influence of the breath. While inhaling, bend backwards expanding the chest while drawing in a deep breath. Bring your arms into an “I surrender” position. While exhaling, flex forward and compress the air out of your body, rounding your upper back. This exercise helps to emphasize the importance of the connection of the body and breath by creating an easy fluid movement with the breath.
The iron bridge is a progression from the flexion/extension exercise and is focused on strengthening the lower back. To alleviate the pressure from the back bend the patient bends forward comfortably to decrease tension in the spine on completion of the back bend. Descriptor words like hanging on a clothesline are used to create fluid movement in the forward bend. If unsupported back bending is too challenging, repeat the supported exercise in the second round.
Muscle sponging is designed to release tension in the shoulders through imagery and gentle squeezing of the shoulder muscles. You are guided through the exercise using images of squeezing water out of sponge to help visualize tension leaving your shoulders like water leaving a sponge. The emphasis on awareness of the breath with active sponging helps to bring oxygen into the muscle, squeezing it out again to decrease tension.
Reverse prayer is an exercise designed to release tension in the neck, shoulders, and the median nerve pathways in the forearms. Fold your hands in a prayer position behind your back; then rotate your neck side-to-side to release the tension in your neck and upper extremities. If your neck is sore, make the rotation movements small from side-to-side, bringing your chin forward towards your chest as you move from side to side. If it is comfortable, you can make a complete circle with your neck, rotating from the side, forward, to the opposite side and then along the back to make a full circle. Listen to your body.
ARM ROTATION THROUGH HIPS
This exercise focuses on relaxed body movement, momentum and your breath to make a complete exercise to create gentle but full movement of the shoulder. The forward momentum of this movement helps to loosen up the major joints in the body and teaches the patient that full movement can be achieved without over creating tension in the muscles. This training will help the patient develop movement patterns without tension.
TREE WITH ROTATION
As with many exercises in this qi gong program, tree with rotation is an exercise that combines the breath and the movement of the body to increases awareness within your body. The breath helps to guide the body through the rotation at the hips and the lifting of the arms. This synchronous movement helps to improve the breath as well as the range of motion of the major joints in the upper body.