Breath is a big part of any kind of movement practice. And I also think it’s the one that’s not often taught in a functional way. Having a deeper experience with your breath will increase your oxygen intake. You’re going to have more energy, you’re going to calm your nervous system and you’re connecting to your core.
Awareness is important. If you bring more awareness to your breath, you will get a bigger breath.
But for breath that gets you more oxygen and actually has a physiological impact, we need to also look at the mechanics of breath. One of my biggest missions is to get people to stand taller and have better posture because suboptimal posture impacts your breath a lot. This isn’t rocket science. If you have an aluminum can and you crush it a little bit, it changes the capacity of the liquid that can get inside the can. And that’s what your crumpled posture does. It changes the volume of your breath and the amount of oxygen you can bring in, which ultimately affects the efficiency of your breath.
This exercise is to help you get upright and get everything more aligned. Put your second and third finger between two of your ribs and take a breath in. You should feel space and movement there. If you round your back, you’ll find that space starts to close off. Draw your tailbone down, not under, but lengthening your lower back. And then open your mouth and empty out your breath. Take another breath in and feel the breath go to your fingers. Also notice where your fingers are in that space when the breath went in. Did they go straight up into it? Or did you feel that there was a little bit of a side movement as well? Because ultimately with breath, we want it to lift up, but it also needs to go outwards. And that is the part a lot of people are missing. Because they’re either stuck in their belly or they’re stuck up in their chest. I want people to focus their breath on that inner space at the rib cage. Use your hands to get feedback.
Working your core muscles will also give you a deeper experience with your breath. Reset the pelvis because your pelvis needs to be neutral to have the best breath. If you’re tilted in any way, it’s going to shorten the rib cage, it’s going to change the way the ribs are or it might jut the ribs forward. They’re not going to be able to expand in the same way. Then get your abdominals firing. Take a breath in and exhale out completely, really exhale out completely and then go to this place where you draw the front body into the back body. Then take a breath and put your hands on your ribs and lift the breath up into your ribs. Feel the breath move into the hands, then take your hands and lift your ribs up a little bit. Lift them up so they’re coming away from the pelvis. And then, on your exhale, you’re going to bring the ribs together. Tighten the intercostals so you’re draw-stringing them together like you’re closing a curtain in front and you’re tightening the obliques as well. Imagine these diagonal lines coming into the midline. And if you’re lying on the ground, come up off the shoulder blades and do that on the exhale. And feel all of that pulling into the midline, closing off to help the breath move. And then as you inhale, lift that breath up, feel the expansion of the ribs, feel the space between, the intercostal space, grow and feel it lifting up toward the armpits. And then exhale and pull it together and consciously tighten your abdominals like you’re trying to siphon out every little bit of breath. And that’s going to come from the transverse abdominals, the obliques, all pulling in and pushing that air out. So you can do this in sitting or standing. And if you’re lying down, you can add the leverage of more weight by lifting your head up off the floor and by lifting your shoulder blades off the floor.
Give those exercises a try. If you have any questions, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this episode with a friend who has any kind of breathing issues.