By Jacqui Hale
Forget the jumping jacks and push-ups of days-gone-by (thank heavens!), Jacqui Hale's mornings start with exercises to wake up her body and mind and connect with her spirit. Read on for tips on incorporating this essential practice.
Life at Its Best
Most of my days begin with four exercises, done in the order presented here. But some days, stuff gets in the way and I only do two, or I do them in the car, or I skip them all together. What I've found over the years is that the days I do all four are the days my life works at its best.
While breathing happens naturally, I've found that I learned this breathing exercise from Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. You might call it belly breathing. You can do it standing, sitting, or lying down. I'll describe the exercise for lying down.
Begin by bending your knees and positioning your feet so your legs are balanced (you are holding them in place).
When you breath in, allow your belly to expand. You may even need to push your abdomen out. (This is hard for many women, especially those trained by mothers who thought girdles were essential underwear.) At the same time you are pushing your abdomen out, arch your lower back slightly.
To breath out, allow your belly and back to relax-gravity will do the work. That's it. Just breath in and out in this manor for a few minutes. I count 25 of these belly breaths each morning. There are other breathing exercises I also incorporate, which can be found in the Hendricks' book Conscious Breathing.
2. Increasing Your Energy
There are seven energy centers in your body. Some people call these centers chakras. The term chakra comes from Yoga tradition meaning wheel or vortex. The body's energy moves through the chakras, sending and receiving social, physical, and spiritual information. Every morning I tune up the chakras by touching them with my mind. Here's the process:
- Sit comfortably with your back straight, on a chair or on the floor.
- Take a few conscious breathes to get present.
- With each breath, focus your awareness on each of the energy centers, moving from the first at the bottom of your body, to the seventh at the top of your head.
- Tip of tailbone, that private area between your legs.
- Abdomen, slightly below the navel.
- Solar Plexus, between your ribcage and navel.
- Heart, in the center of your chest.
- Throat, in the front of your neck.
- Third eye, in the center of your forehead.
- Crown, at the top of your head.
- When you exhale at the end of this exercise, imagine a shower of fairy dust coming from your crown to bath you in shimmering energy.
Once you have awakened your body with breathing and stimulated your energy with attention to your chakras, just sit quietly. Stay in the same position and breath normally, just listening. Stay in this meditative posture for several minutes -- or as long as you feel connected. This might be the most important exercise of all.
The final part of my morning exercises is writing in my journal. You may want to just start writing or you may want some help with the process. Two books are helpful: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. However you do it, writing every morning helps clear away the clutter in your mind and opens your being to new possibilities. Write whatever comes to your mind or whatever flows from your pen without worry about grammar or your teacher reading it or your snippy little sister reading it. You may never read it again or you may refer to it frequently. The point is to write, period.
What happens when you start your day by paying attention to yourself? Well, your more likely to go the direction of your goals. You are definitely more likely to feel centered and ready to be in the life you want. It's your day, start it in the best way possible.
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