Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2013

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ENERGY RELEASE rest of your body with two hands at once, covering the front of your body, your legs, and as much of the back of your body as possible until you end at your feet. This exercise can be even more powerful if you combine strong exhalations with every downward stroke. Keep your cheeks slightly rounded, and exhale deeply with every brushing stoke. Imagine you are removing traces of bad energy, both with your hands and with your breath. Rapid Diaphragmatic Breathing This is a classic pranayama exercise in which only the abdominal area moves while the chest remains still. Make sure you maintain good posture—it's easy to strain your chest muscles if you're in the wrong position. Sit on the floor in a half-lotus posture, or in an armless chair if necessary. Place your hands on your knees, making sure your body is straight, but relaxed and not stiff. Do a series of rapid breath expulsions in quick succession. After each breath expulsion, your diaphragm pumps air back into your lungs, and you naturally proceed immediately to the next expulsion. The fi rst few times you do this, place a hand on your abdomen so you can feel how it should contract on the exhale. Quickly and forcefully contract your abdomen by snapping it inward, and allow the air to exit through your nose and mouth. To clear your sinuses more thoroughly, exhale only through your nose. Your abdomen will relax for a fraction of a second between contractions before new air automatically flows back into your body. Make sure your shoulders don't bounce up and down, and that only your abdomen moves during the exercise. Also be sure that the air is being expelled only as a result of the contraction of your abdominal muscles and the movement of your diaphragm. Take at least 15 breaths in rapid succession. You may do even more expulsions, or a second round of 15, as long as you don't get too dizzy or excessively strain your system. You can easily feel light-headed after this exercise, so make sure to relax and reintegrate yourself before you stand. Shaking and Draining This is a Chinese qi gong exercise that is especially helpful for table workers. To clear yourself of negative energies following a difficult session, vigorously shake your hands for 30−45 seconds while you focus all your energy on your hara. Imagine the negative energy rising through your body and gathering at your hands as you shake them. As you are doing this, take deep, prolonged inhalations and long, protracted exhalations. After a minute or two, your hara and hands will become warm. Immediately place your outstretched hands on a rock, brick wall, tree, drainpipe, In this exercise, making a connection with the earth or anything that can allow for the release of negative energy. runs directly Photo courtesy of Bob Haddad. into the ground, which allows the energy that just surfaced through your body to drain into the ground. Try to sense the energy exiting your body as you make contact with the connection to the earth. Sun/Moon Visualization This is a creative visualization intended to restore peace and balance. As you slowly inhale, imagine golden sunlight entering the toes of your right foot, moving up the side of your body, and leaving your head. After you fi nish inhaling, hold your breath for a few seconds. As you exhale, imagine silvery moonlight moving downward from your head, through the left side of your body, and exiting through your toes. Breathe long and deep, and repeat this visualization in odd-numbered cycles until you feel a deep sense of relaxation. GREATER AWARENESS With greater awareness of the need for self-protection, and a little bit of practice, these and other concepts and techniques can help protect you against outside energies, and fortify and maintain your own energy system so you can be a stronger and more effective healer. Never stop working with an open and compassionate heart; just make sure to protect yourself along the way. Bob Haddad, RTT, has studied traditional Thai massage since 1999, mostly in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In 2005, he founded Thai Healing Alliance International, an organization that promotes basic standards for the study and practice of traditional Thai massage. His book, Thai Massage & Thai Healing Arts: Practice, Culture, and Spirituality, is available from Findhorn Press. He teaches workshops internationally, and can be reached at thaimassage@mindspring.com. www.abmp.com. See what benefits await you. 97

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