Last week, I introduced you to “the dude” in order to outline some of the diagnostic tools I used for working with this stressed-out client and his quest for sleep. This week, I will cover the Five P’s: Perspective, pace of breath, place, position, and palpation.
First: Perspective. I needed to address how he thinks. We all know thinking positive is important, but I am discovering throughout my years that we are all positive about the way we think, a not necessarily thinking positively! I am not a counselor or psychotherapist, but I do study yoga, so I referenced the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali along with what I gained from my Breath and Bliss Immersion.
Yoga Sutra 1:2–Yogas’ Citta Vrtti Nirodhah–translating loosely: the restraint of the fluctuations of the mind-stuff is yoga. In yoga, we don’t focus exclusively on the negative aspects of thought, but also the conundrum of incessant thinking which disrupts inner spaciousness and proves to be vexing for everyone.
I gave him the affirmation/reminder to detach from the barrage of information and become a passive observer of it all. To become aware enough to control the rising of his mind into mere ripples. To become proactive and consciously disallow the mind’s seduction down into the rabbit hole of worry.
Second, I addressed Pace of Breath. His breath proved to be a great barometer of the internal state of his mind. Rapid, shallow breathing usually indicates sympathetic overload, but his pattern was more curious than that. It was rapid, but deeply bracing, like he’s constantly preparing for a big punch in the belly. I sought to combine physiological down-regulating with the energetic principle of Apana Vayu. The Vayus are Seats of Prana or “powers of air.” Apana means “air that moves away.” It drives Pranic movement downward and outward. Apana governs elimination. Apana Vayu rules the elimination of negative sensory, emotional, and mental experiences. It is our ability to let go. I hoped he could harness his mind and bring its “stuff” downward.
Another P is place. I reminded him he’s safe, warm, and peaceful in this present moment helping him to breathe easefully, slowly, fully and smoothly. I encouraged a three-part breath, letting him know he has all the time in the world to simply inhale, abdomen, thorax, and chest. With focus on Apana Vayu, snatching the distractions (Citta Vrtti) traveling around in his mind and escorting them way down into the lower abdominal cavity and out. I also gave him a pace for his breath. I recommended his exhales be twice as long as his inhales tempting a parasympathetic state.
Orthostatic (posture) presentation was a hyper-kyphotic thoracic spine, limiting the depth to which he could inspire. However, the deep fascia was not completely sticky, dense, hardened, and set that way, as he had the ability at the end of each session to uncurl, uncoil, and straighten up. The Roll Model® upper back release done as part of each session, which proved to be miraculous for his condition.
Next up, position! In the past, I would have prescribed forward folds as they are the typical relaxation inducing yoga shapes. I am grateful being a Yoga Tune Up® teacher as I have additional corrective techniques at my disposal. His art has penetrating detail, as such his work puts him constantly in a forward rounded sitting position. His hamstrings are tight as well causing the pelvis to be tilted backward in a seated posture. With these issues taken into consideration I felt it best to help him literally and metaphorically unwind! Have you noticed that as soon as you recline it seems as if the weight of the world flies away, your off switch turns on, and I bet you let out a sigh of relief?!
Even more relaxing than reclining is inverting. When we invert, raising pelvis higher than heart, and heart higher than head, the body automatically shuts down sympathetic activity. The brain becomes a bit clearer and calmer. We gain a different perspective or point of view so to speak. Inversions stimulate the vagus nerve, our key parasympathetic nerve helping us rest, repair, reset and digest. And hence informs the bulk of this program.
I taught him legs up the wall on a block. As he adopted the position in our session I led him through Veeparita Korani Mudra. In Yoga Tune Up® AKA as Inverted Psychic Attitude—I guided this savasana, suggesting imagery to visualize, and directed him to locate three chakra points, navel center, heart center and throat center while injecting his breath and Prana into each one. Then subsequently slowly exhale while injecting his breath and Prana into center of brain, top of back of skull where the hair spiral is and then into crown – and continue over and over again.
Last, but not least, palpation, the 5th P. Therapy Ball massage helps to ease the resting tone of the muscles and their associated fascias. It also elevates the well- being chemicals in our brain, such as endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine.
The design of his program was centered on this vagus nerve stimulation. The vagus nerve relates to the lungs and stomach. It is the longest parasympathetic nerve in our body. It originates in the brainstem and goes way down into the gut. It is interconnected with the nerves that act to create fascial expression, sucking, swallowing, breathing, vocalization and hearing. It meanders below the face and neck and surveys heart rate, respiration and digestion. It slides down through the diaphragm’s esophageal hiatus and plunges into organs including the stomach, pancreas, intestines, liver, spleen, kidneys and adrenals.
Now that we’ve covered the Five P’s, read on next week, as I’ll apply the five P’s to help guide “the dude” into down-regulation so he can learn how to relax and sleep better.