Forced Breathing

Another way to relax and restore natural breathing patterns is to practice forced breathing. Forced breathing involves consciously squeezing more air out of your lungs by using the muscles between your ribs.

Take a deep breath in through your nose — let it out through your mouth — and as you let it out, squeeze out more air, and more air, and more air, and even more air . . . squeeze it all out! Use your whole belly to continue to press out more air. Then, inhale.

Continue several rounds of forced breathing.

Neck Nirvana

I spent last week in NYC walking and carrying a heavy handbag, which made for a tight neck and tense shoulders. So while in Chinatown, I got a fabulous quickie neck massage.  Here’s a fun, easy way to fit in a neck stretch — all you need is a small hand towel.

Stiff neck . . . no more!

Equipment: hand or dish towel

Position: Standing or sitting, hold on both ends of the towel with your hands, placing the middle of the towel behind the back of your head.

Simple exercise: Use the towel to guide your head forward, tucking your chin to your chest and gently tugging forward for a deeper stretch.

Benefits: stretches your neck muscles.

Have fun, get creative, and share your ideas . . .

Wash, Push, Pull

I do this exercise 10-20 times in the morning and night after I wash and dry my face. The bathroom is transformed into the perfect gym complete with mirrors!

Assist with the resist!

Equipment: hand towel

Position: Standing with your feet hip width apart, hold towel tautly over head, gripping hands shoulder-width apart.

Simple Exercise: Slowly pull the towel down to the front, with your arms straight and then push the towel back up, resisting the movement in both directions.

Benefits: Tones the muscles in your arms, chest, shoulders, and back.

Have fun, get creative, and share your ideas . . .

Living (and Loving) Well is Not Always Easy

Coco never met a ball she couldn’t conquer.

Yesterday we had to make the difficult decision to help our precious 16-year-old dachshund, Coco, cross Rainbow Bridge.

My vet let me hold Coco against my chest as she passed. The last thing she heard were my husband’s and my professions of love. The last thing she felt was the beating of my heart. As soon as she gave her last breath, I felt a lightness.

Free from her failing physical body, she bound over the bridge and back into her sassy spirit. Play ball, my sweet Coco!

Shower Power

Whether you shower in the a.m. or p.m., use the therapeutic effect of warm water to help you wind up or wind down your day.

Equipment: Shower

Position: Standing in the shower with warm water flow centered on upper back and feet hip width apart.

Simple exercise: Drop your chin to your chest and interlace your hands in front of your body to round and feel a stretch in your upper back and shoulders.

Benefits: Stretches upper back and shoulders; feel stress melt away and energy increase.

Have fun, get creative, and share your ideas . . .

Roll a Pearl

When you get a kink in your back, the first thing you may want to do curl into a little ball with your knees in your chest. Another option is to move yourself in the opposite direction. This is also a great exercise if you frequently find yourself hunched over a computer . . . like me.

Position: Lying, face down with nose to the floor and arms by your sides, extended with palms up.

Find a pearl and polish this one off!

Simple exercise: Pretend to roll a pearl forward with your nose, lift your chin, then your chest with arms bowed behind you. (This is a Pilates move that is a bit like “cobra” pose from yoga.)

Benefits: Strengthens upper and lower back; stretches front of neck and chest; tones the back of your arms.

Have fun, get creative, and share your ideas . . .