Bodywork Exercises – Opening the Chest

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REMINDER: 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.


Important cautions

Please note the following important cautions before following this exercise.

Not all exercise is suitable for everyone, and this or any exercise programme may result in injury. Consult with your doctor before you use the exercises from the The Phoenix Centre for Creative Living’s Bodywork pages and videos.

To reduce the risk of injury, never force or strain yourself during exercise. If you feel pain, stop and seek medical attention if necessary. Those with special health considerations should consult their medical practitioner before performing any exercise.

The creators, producers, performers of The Phoenix Centre for Creative Living’s Bodywork pages and videos cannot guarantee that this product is suitable and safe for every individual.

Any liability, loss or damage in connection with the use of The Phoenix Centre for Creative Living’s Bodywork pages instruction, including but not limited to any liability, loss or damage arising from the performance of the exercises demonstrated here, or any advice or information provided by The Phoenix Centre for Creative Living’s Bodywork pages in the videos, or on the website, is expressly disclaimed.

CHEST Release

A brief video featuring Bodywork on the chest

Chest Release

The chest area is notorious for holding tension in various “layers.” The longer you work and the deeper you go, the grater the variety of emotions: for example, sadness, grief, happiness, and joy.

It is not for nothing that we have the expression,
“Getting things off of your chest.”

Pressure is applied into the Intercostal spaces, (the orange areas on the illustration).

The Intercostal spaces are located outside of the sternum (green) and between the ribs (yellow.)

Please note the“between” part.

CAUTION, at the base of the sternum is a little bone called the zyphoid process (blue.)
You must never apply pressure to the xiphoid process, as it’s easily broken.

The easiest way to find the xiphoid process is to run your fingers up the bottom of the rib-cage, until they meet on the sternum. Then, slide your finger down the sternum about 2 inches. You are now “on” the xiphoid process.

The Chest Release Process

The key to this exercise is for the recipient to keep breathing throughout. Emotions are likely to be triggered, and they can be scary. Often when we are scared we hold our breath. So, the person doing the work needs to carefully monitor the recipient to see that they keep breathing, deeply and rhythmically.

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

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

  • Person Giving: Begin at the top of the rib-cage, below the clavicles. Press into the top pair of Intercostal spaces. The pressure is firm and straight down.

    Recipient: work at making noises on the out breath. If emotions come up (like tears, anger, sobbing, etc.,) let them happen.

  • Person Giving: work down the chest, into each Intercostal space, (in pairs, either side of the sternum) until you reach the “marker point,” below which is the zyphoid process area.

    Also, note that the Intercostal space extends between the ribs all the way around the body. You can move outward from the sternum, between the ribs, if you choose. First time, though, limit your pressure to next to the sternum in the Intercostal spaces.

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