Lean on Me: Back-to-Back Breathing
Apr 27, 2023
I’m a huge Bill Withers fan. Are you? Even if his name doesn’t ring a bell, you’re likely familiar with his songs. Some of his most famous include "Lovely Day", "Just the Two of Us", "Ain’t No Sunshine" and "Lean on Me". These songs were part of the soundtrack of our life during a time when we played with now-banned 70s toys like knicker knockers (also known as clackers) and lawn jarts outside in the cool grass on a hot summer night.
Much later in life, I would play his song "Lean on Me" at the beginning of a family yoga class while teaching back-to-back breathing.
With Back-to-Back Breathing, you can invite someone in your life to “Lean on Me” while you both get a chance to soothe your system. It’s also a great way to shift your mind and mood by shifting your breath.
The breath and nervous system are closely interrelated. You can shape your breath and directly impact your nervous system. Anyone can do it anytime.
Take a few minutes to shape your breath each day. It’s like taking your breath to the gym. It gets it in shape and functions better. This means your nervous system functions better!
There are many fun, simple breathing activities you can do. Back-to-Back breathing is one that involves two people. Grab another human and try it. Here's how:
- Sit back-to-back so your back touches your partner’s back. The size of each partner does not matter.
- While sitting back-to-back, first tune into your own breath. Become aware of how and where your breath moves in your body as you breathe in and as you breathe out.
- Then, tune into your partner’s breath. You may feel how their back presses against yours a bit more as they inhale.
- Then, notice if your breathing patterns synch up. You may both be inhaling and exhaling at the same time. Or, one may inhale while the other is exhaling. There’s no wrong way to do this. It’s just a chance to connect and breathe.
The deeper breathing that happens as a result can reduce stress, improve mental clarity and even support better sleep.
Physical touch promotes connection and nurturing. It can enhance immune system function while it releases feel-good chemicals in the brain.
It can help you both have a "Lovely Day".