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Exercises for Opening the Chest and the Back

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bodywork cd-r

Opening the Chest

A brief video featuring Bodywork on the chest

diagram of chest and sternum

Let's move to a Bodywork experience. I've been thinking about this one lately – it's one I experience regularly. It has to do with the flow of the breath and the feelings that may arise as a result.

From this point on, we'll be looking at actual Bodywork experiences, and this will require working with a partner. You'll be applying a bit of pressure to specific points.

As I mentioned above, if you want to learn to do "real" Bodywork, you must find a qualified teacher – someone who has "hands on" experience – and therefore can help you to learn to judge the amount of pressure to apply. That being said, applying moderate pressure while playing with these exercises will give you feel for what Bodywork is about.

Please note! If you prefer visual aids for learning this material, purchase our Bodywork CD-R

breath posture

Recipient: Begin by assuming the regular breathing position. Close your eyes. Begin the breathing cycle.

chest workcloseup chest

Giver:Monitor the flow of breathing, and encourage the recipient to breathe smoothly and deeply.

After five minutes, find one pair of the intercostal spaces (one to each side of the sternum) between recipient's ribs, over their heart.

There's a picture above, indicating the spots.

Be sure you are in the gaps between the ribs, outside of the sternum, not on a rib!

Giver: Applying downward pressure, (just enough so that you notice it,) continue to monitor recipient's breathing.

Recipient, monitor your feelings. What you may begin to notice is a sensation of either sadness or joy. If you feel either of these things, or pretty much anything else, give yourself permission to let the feelings out.

Giver: Stay present with the recipient, and make yourself comfortable with whatever emotions arise in either of you.

Your job is not to try to "fix" anything. Just be there. Let your partner have his or her experience. 

End the experience after 5 minutes of pressure (you can shift to other intercostal spaces...) or whenever you both agree to stop.

Opening the Pelvis

Please note! If you prefer visual aids for learning this material, purchase our Bodywork CD-R

small of back

This Bodywork exercise focuses on the pelvis and lower back.

Usually in Bodywork we release the upper body first, so that when we release the pelvis, the energy it contains has a place to go. As we're looking at gentle release techniques in this series, there's less of a need to do releases in a specific order. We're, at this stage, just identifying areas of tightness. 

As to the pelvis, let's review.

The back pelvis contains energy we could call "passion for life." If we are not living out of our passion – if our life is dull and commonplace and meaningless, the unexpended "life passion" energy will be locked in the back pelvis.


The front pelvis contains"passion for passion's sake" – sexual and sensual passion and energy.

Remember! We block energy by tightening muscles. Pelvic energy blocks are a triple whammy.

  • First, to keep the energy from moving up, we tighten the diaphragm. (On the back, the diaphragm is located beneath the bottom ribs.)
  • Second, we tighten the muscles at the curve of the lower back, on either side of the spinal column.
  • Third, we tighten the leg muscles, as they attach to the pelvis, notably at the side of the pelvis 2 inches below the hip bone, and then down the outside of the leg. This tightening helps to keep the pelvis "still."

Let's feel for tightness, if any, in the back.

Receiver: lie on your stomach.

Giver: look at the picture so you can find the points:

small of back
  • Locate the bony protrusions at the top of the pelvis (yellow dots.)
  • Slide your fingers up until they contact the lowest ribs (orange lines.)
  • Now, move your fingers out a couple of inches or so on either side of the spine. NEVER push down on the spine! The muscle will end, and your fingers will "slide off," (the dots in green.) Depending on the size of your hand squeezes in on the back muscle, using either one or two hands.

Here's a video clip of the locations

Massaging the Lower Back for release

top pf pelvis

Put a bit of massage oil on your hands. We use coconut oil. Massage the oil into the recipient's lower back and upper butt.

Locate the bony protrusions at the top of the pelvis (yellow dots.) Press inward and downward at a 45 degree angle, using your thumbs.

side of pelvis

Move your thumbs down along the pelvic top, to the side of the pelvis, (see photo) and press inward,using either your thumbs or fingers.

Massage along the top of the pelvis, using fingers, and also apply downward/inward pressure with your thumbs. Be sure to keep your thumbs to either side of the back muscle.

back muscle

As above, locate the outer edges of the back muscle, and press inward toward the spine and downwards at a 45 degree angle, pressing on the outer edge of the muscle you just found. Not too hard, please.

Receiver: you might feel a fair amount of pain in this area. Breathe and exhale using a sound, like "ahhh." Or "ouch!" The goal here is to notice how tight this area is.

Giver: press in on this area for a minute or so, following the outer edge of the muscle, moving up and down along the muscle.

Work back down to the top of the pelvis, and massage with your thumbs, following the contour of the top of the pelvis.


Finally, place your lower hand over the sacrum, with your fingers on the "Good Enough Spot." Place your upper hand over the back muscle.

Imagine breathing chi into your hands, or imagine sending warmth to the area. Do this for 5 minutes. Rest.

Here's a video of the entire massage, condensed to 3 minutes.

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