Breathing is serious business

Take and deep breath, this is serious.

How you breathe and where you breathe is a big deal. I've written about this in past mailers, but the importance and the power of the breath can't be stressed enough. The Serratus Posterior Inferior and Superior muscles (the chevron-shaped muscles in the pictures) are waiting to be used in the way they were meant. The way so many of us sit rounds the back and overstretches these muscles.

An easy way to change this is to decompress. Easier said than done. For those of you who have dipped your feet into Foundation Training know the power is in paying attention to the details, and regularly checking in with yourself throughout the day.

The purpose of this email is to remind you of your breath and to tell you to get as big and wide as you can with your breath. The arrows in the picture show expansion in all directions; front, back, sides, top and bottom. The trick is to keep the expansion as you exhale. Think about a balloon increasing in size and building tension as you inflate it to its maximum. Your intention is to create tension, by pulling the outer edges of your lungs away from the midline of your body. This counteracts the tendency to collapse towards the midline, which compresses the soft tissues along with digestion, circulatory and respiratory systems to name a few. You have the power to change not only your posture, but your overall health through decompression breathing. It simply takes awareness and a microbreak with a series of 10 breaths at least once an hour.

Here's a little spacial exercise so you can really experience this:
If you are sitting, sit on the front of your sit bones with shins vertical, big toes touching, heels 2 inches apart.
If you are standing, stand with big toes touching, heels 2 inches apart, weight in your heels and knees soft.

In the picture above you will see some muscles at the base of the skull - the suboccipitals. Lengthen those by pulling your skull back over your body/ shoulders. You should feel a slight bit of tensional length ("stretch").

Take a deep slow inhale (5 count) through your nose, sensing your rib cage widening and lifting. Exhale. Take another inhale, noticing where your breath naturally goes. Is it more belly, or are you noticing that your back is extending to create space. Stop both of those habits. Let your entire ribcage expand, especially the back through your thoracic spine - this region of your spine has the most amount of joints and is the longest.

Bring one hand to your heart and one hand to your belly. Take another deep breath through your nose feeling your abdomen pulling away from your hand. As you breathe up you are creating tension along with length. You can visualize this when you think of the finger torture toys you used to use as a kid. When you pull the ends away from each other, the center tightens. Exhale.

Take another slow inhale. On this exhale, keep the expansion. Don't let your rib cage drop. One inhale and exhale is 1 rep. Repeat this cycle 10 times every hour as a microbreak. You are creating space from within and your body will thank you.

The serratus muscles (muscles in picture) actively lengthen and support your upper back, neck and lower back when you retrain them with this breathing pattern.