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    5 Movements to Help Calm Your Nervous System & Move Your Joints

    By Raye Khan–

    We live in a stressful world during stressful times. Try these 5 movements to help calm your nervous system and move your joints through a healthy range of motion. Please consult with a medical professional before engaging in a new exercise program.

    1. Belly breathing: Belly breathing is my favorite go-to for anytime I am feeling stressed, un-grounded, or anxious. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. While breathing through your nose, try to direct your breath directly into your low belly without breathing into your neck or chest. Just like a vase fills with water from the bottom, try to do the same with your breath. 

    2. Eye circles: Many of us staring at screens all day are only using our eyes in one position, which is not great for our eyes or our bodies. So, let’s get those eyes moving! Hold a pencil at arms distance in front of you and keep your eyes locked on the tip of the pencil. Without moving your head, move the pencil in big circles in front of you while keeping your eyes on the pencil tip. This should feel like a strain for your eyes but make sure you can see the pencil tip the whole time. Do 10 circles in each direction.

    2A: Here’s a variation for folks who are blind or visually impaired: Instead of working the visual system (your eyes), let’s work your vestibular system (your inner ear unit that helps with balance and proprioception). Circle your head and shoulders in big circles at a good pace. Stop and take a break if you get dizzy. Do 10 circles in each direction.

    3. Roll-downs: From a seated or standing position, reach your arms up overhead and interlace your fingers with your palms facing up. Take an inhale into your ribs, and exhale to slowly articulate your spine down to the floor. Pause when you are as low as you can go (you should feel a nice stretch through the back of your body), and take a few breaths into your low back. Articulate and roll your spine up to your seated or standing upright starting position and repeat for a total of 4.

    4. Bridges: This is another one of my favorite movements to help open the hips up and engage the entire backside of the body (yes, that includes your glutes!). For folks who are able to get down onto the floor (or you can do this from your bed), lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Exhale to press the hips up towards the sky in one flat piece and inhale to lower the hips down. Do 10 bridges total. 

    Accessibility note: For folks who are unable to do this movement, try this more accessible movement: From a seated position, you can have your hands on your lap or out into a “T.” Lean your upper body forward (try to keep your back flat and bring your tail with you), and then pull yourself back to a seated upright position. Do 10 total.

    5. Hula hoops!: This is a great movement for spinal mobility. From a seated or standing position, hula hoop your ribs around your pelvis while keeping your pelvis and lower body steady. Do 10 circles in each direction.

    Published on August 11, 2022