September 07 2020 – Kate Abram
For Daub & Design
By Roxy Menzies
Roxy Menzies is an advocate for optimal Women’s health throughout every phase in life using the tools of Yamuna® Body Rolling, Dance, Gyrotonic® and Pilates. Her curiosity for life and movement led her to live, perform and teach around the globe. She’s returned to Toronto full-time as a new mom with her daughter Jazz and shares her postpartum journey thus far.
We read and hear about it all the time; how breathing is so important for overall health, optimal posture and alleviating stress. Yet, it’s obvious we wouldn’t be functioning human beings if we weren’t actually breathing, so what exactly is a good breathing practice and why do we need it?
Well, first off, breathing can become a very complex subject with various methods and theories about which is best for the body. Even from an anatomical standpoint, there are many perspectives ranging from Myer’s deep frontal line of fascial connections to the functioning of the diaphragm and whether it’s better to breathe through the belly, the ribs or 3-dimensionally. But really, they’re all aiming for the same outcome and intention; optimal healing, longevity and resiliency depending on what you need in a particular phase of your life. We are all beautifully unique, so finding a practice that resonates and gives you results is what’s vital.
When I discovered Yamuna® Body Rolling, it was and is the perfect compliment to everything in my life, from pre baby to pregnancy to birth and now postpartum. It has changed the lives of many of my clients and I believe it was the main factor for a pregnancy without aches and pains and a wonderful birth experience. Yamuna® Body Rolling is all about stimulating the bones and aligning the body so all of its systems can function at its best. It’s been described as self massage, a workout and a chiropractic treatment all in one.
One of the things that I love and has been beneficial during and after pregnancy is a breathing practice using the Yamuna® balls. This particular sequence focuses on deep breathing, going within and releasing tension around the ribcage. It expands the chest and releases the upper back which in turn releases the shoulders, neck, back and takes pressure out of the hips. I love a good pranayama practice but during stressful times and now navigating life with a baby along with body changes my breathing has felt restricted. The counter-pressure of the Yamuna® ball allows a deeper opening and release granting a deeper, fuller and expansive breath. It down-regulates my nervous system bringing me to a place of calm in which I am more grounded and resilient to take on daily challenges.
When we are able to breathe deeply or fully there is a sense of freedom, strength and serenity for body, mind and soul.
Here is a short sequence that can be done at any phase in your life, it can take as little as 8 minutes and up to 20 if you want to take more time in each position. With the uncertainty and fear in our current climate, a breathing practice can reconnect you, calm your nervous system and give you a ‘break’ from the worries of the world. It enables you to take on new challenges with a higher sense of resiliency. It’s best to use the Yamuna® balls for best results, however at your own discretion, you can experiment with other products such as a child’s play ball (not a soccer ball -- too tough).
Happy Rolling & Breathing!
1. Take a moment to lie down on your back or sit comfortably. Close your eyes, breathe naturally and tune in to your body. Try not to judge, just observe. Notice how you’re feeling, how your breathing is (can you naturally take a full breath or is there any restriction?) and notice if there’s any additional tension in the body.
2. Lie on your side. Take the Yamuna® gold or pearl ball on the side of your body at your ribs. Make sure it isn’t too low towards your waist or on the floating ribs. The ball should be at your bra line and higher towards the underarm. Elongate through that side, reach your legs away and reach your elbow away as you use the arm as a head rest. Inhale slowly and softly through the nose and feel the breath expanding the ribs touching the ball. Exhale (can be an Ujjayi breath or through the mouth for now) and allow your body to sink and be heavy in the ball. Repeat 3-6 times. With each breath try to let your body be heavy and sink towards the ground.
Repeat on the other side.
3. a) Showing the placement of the ball. The ball is at the breastbone, not low but rather cleavage height (if you’re bustier, you may have to move the ‘girls’ out of the way, we never roll on breast tissue!). Hold the ball in place with your hands.
b) Keeping the ball in place, lie down on the floor. This can be a tight and emotional area, so take your time and remember YOU control the amount of weight you put into the ball. If it’s too intense, take some of the weight off or do this one against the wall. (and definitely against the wall if you’re later in pregnancy). Inhale - breathe where the ball is, expand your chest Exhale - slowly release and let the chest sink into the ball. Notice any sensations between your shoulder blades. Repeat 3 - 5 times. You may do a second position upwards towards the collar bone, still on the breastbone.
4. (my favorite!) Make sure you don’t skip the previous exercises; they prepare the body for this one.
a) I’m showing the position of the ball. Between the bottom half/tip of the shoulder blades right in the middle, on the spine.
b) Lie on your back with the ball at the position as stated above. Support your head and neck with your arms and ideally have the legs straight. If there is any tension or pulling in the low back, bend the knees and have the feet flat on the floor. Inhale - visualize the breath going from your pubic bone, through the whole spine and out through the crown of the head creating elongation through the torso. Exhale - let your weight sink into the ball. It’s not about wrapping your upper back around the ball to be in a big arch, it’s about length and then release. As you continue your head may start reaching towards the floor but it’s not the goal. Do approx. 5 -10 slow soft breaths.
Finish by lying on your back, eyes closed and breathe naturally. Notice how you feel compared to when you started. You may decide to set an intention, say a prayer, or mantra or something nice to yourself.
Check out the link below to watch and follow along with Roxy!
You can find Roxy on instagram @roxyspiral and check out her website www.roxymenzies.com to subscribe and find out about virtual Yamuna® Body Rolling sessions as well as the launch of her blog ‘The Pregnancy and beyond Chronicles’; a positive, helpful and humorous blog for women seeking a positive and uplifting pregnancy and birth. Stay tuned for the last instalment of this series!