Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Power of a Simple Sigh

(Toby cat claiming my meditation cushion is really for him.)

I know that getting back into the body can seem like an overwhelming idea at first to people.  Or we overwhelm ourselves by trying to make it too complicated.

So I have a super simple suggestion about sighing.

When I was doing my yogadance training at Kripalu, I had to attend 6:30 AM yoga classes every day.  These were Kripalu tradition yoga classes, and let me tell you, they love their noise making there.  At first, all the sighing and the totally loud exhales of yummy made me really nervous.  I am a private person and very modest and more than a bit afraid of feeling exposed and vulnerable.

While I was there, then, I did not vocalize as we were asked to.  I would pretend.  And it wasn't like you could tell that I was cheating because everyone around me was so damn loud!

Cut to a few months later and I am teaching.

It became quickly apparent that for women this making noise and breathing deeply thing were all intertwined.  I was (and still am) surrounded by women who breathe way up in their chests and who will not sing in public much less make other "unattractive" noises.

Talk about 5th chakra blockages!  (For some work on your 5th chakra, go here.)

Now I see my main thing as a teacher is to get women to make noise.  To let stuff out of their throat and shoulder and heart areas.

By my second class, I was demanding that they exhale OUT through their mouths and make the sound "Har," which in Kundalini is excellent for releasing anger.  And I spend a lot of time yelling "I can't hear you!!!"

They laugh but they are getting louder all the time.

I even start classes with a bit of this noise making, and I have discovered that the simple Sigh is a very powerful tool.

Here's what I want you to do:

Sit comfortably.  Start paying attention to your breath.  Focus a bit on your shoulders and throat.  Just check in.

Now take a very deep breath into your belly.  You'll probably notice that this feels tight and is difficult.

Take another deep breath but pull it into your upper chest and scrunch your shoulders way up toward your ears.  You are physically mimicking internal feelings here.  Hold the breath for a moment and feel your feelings.

When you let it out, let your entire body drop into a sloppy, gravity-pulled hunch.

The exhale should be big, through your mouth, and powerful.  I want noise here, people.  Big. Loud. Beautiful Sighs.

Do this about six times.

Then sit and try to take that belly breath again.

Notice the difference.

And smile.

Body says thank you.


Emma said...

Ohhhhh, yes! Yes to both ends of this - I have been the person not wanting to make any noticeable sound AND also enjoying the power of the big exhale/sigh.


I LOVE big sighs.

Paula-Jewelry Designer & Tomboy said...

Thank you for this lovely post; I totally identify with not wanting to make noise or be noticed and growing into a person that is somewhat comfortable with it. Now, I am off to find out more about the 5th Chakra.

Ms. Moon said...

When giving birth the first time I was simply amazed at the sounds coming out of me as I pushed. They were like no sounds I had ever made before and they scared me but I needed them. I learned something about sound-making right there.

Janice said...

Love this post and your blog! Thank you!

Sound, my voice, have always been a challenge for me. At work I have trouble being heard. My voice is too low or my pitch too high (especially for all the male voices in the room). The upper part of the 3 part breath is difficult for me and my public singing voice -- forget about it. However, at night, singing to my daughter in the darkness of her room there is a beautiful voice that comes out of my mouth that I barely recognize.


Svasti said...

Many years ago I was doing a vocal workshop at an actor's studio. I can't remember exactly what happened or the techniques used, but the woman running the workshop was trying to get us to access what she called our "natural voice".

Somehow I found that, and I was in touch with it for a few hours there. My voice lost it's squeakiness and became very, very deep. It resonated around the room without any effort from me. I felt very powerful and really, somewhat amazed by that experience.

I'm with you that contrived noises don't work for me. They need to be spontaneous. Saying things like "yummy" out loud in a class would be weird for me, unless I really meant it. But hey, whatever works for a person, y'know?

Generally I am kinda noisy. Except when I'm not. But yes, there's a lot of freedom in that, allowing ourselves to be heard! said...

When I was a teenager, my mom got very sick with pneumonia and nearly died. It was horrible.
She had to have a lot of physiotherapy, and the physio used to come to our house. Awesome lady. She became a good friend. But I digress.
She spent a lot of time teaching my mom to 'breathe with heaving bosoms'. Just the way we are taught not to, because it's unsightly.
Yay for deep sighs and noise and BEING HEARD!