Today in class, Mandy really challenged our brains. Gwen, Annie, Kim, and I got so overloaded that at the end Mandy “went rogue” and had us pull out our mats to lay on rollers and then do our hook-up lying down.
It was a great class. I have a perennial knot/tightness in my upper right back/shoulder due to tension and working with a computer mouse all day. I am always able to turn my head further to the left than to the right. But in class today, using my eye movement really helped me be able to extend further to the right!
Annie showed off her backbend skills (and the rest of us were able to improve ours) as we tossed the BrainSpeed ball from hand to hand while tracking it. I didn’t love it (okay, I actively disliked it ;)) but when we went to get on the box with one foot in a strap and later stand on the Reformer straddling the box, I was much more sure-footed.
However, when Mandy told us to get on the right side and I thought I was on the left, we began to see the mental breakdown. And I wasn’t alone; we were all reaching our end. So Mandy helped us out.
Why do we end every class with a hook-up? Because it helps to integrate everything we’ve just done into our bodies. Hook-ups reestablish equilibrium following physical, emotional, or environmental stress by taking the focus off our extremities and refocusing on the body’s midline & postural muscles, supporting higher-order thinking and choice-making. It invites calm while focusing and organizing scattered attention. It slows down the nervous system and helps us better regulate ourselves. It’s a great ending to all that beneficial brain and bodywork.
Hook-ups are also really useful outside the PIH studio. When someone I love was having a panic attack, I had them get into a hook-up and take deep breaths until it passed. When a friend was stressed before a dentist appointment, she did a little hook-up while she waited and felt calmer. When my oldest can’t fall asleep, they do a hook-up in bed.
A hook-up begins by crossing your ankles, touching your shoulders with the opposite hand, and putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth, just behind your teeth as you inhale and releasing the tongue as you exhale. Hold this position and breathe slowly (eyes open or closed) for a minute or more. When ready, uncross your ankles and arms, bringing your fingertips together in front of your heart for a few more deep breaths.
As you can see, hook-ups are especially good for anyone with stress, anxiety, meltdowns, or sensory overload. It’s a great activity to calm the body and help control breathing. Hook-ups can be done standing, sitting, or lying down. Here’s a great one you can do discretely in any setting.
Now the next time you see me in this pose, you’ll know I’m just taking care of my nervous system. Maybe I’ll catch you doing it too!