When it comes to breathing, many people seem to hold this notion that our breath is our breath; one can only play the cards you are dealt with and there isn’t much you can do about it.
This is a misconception - in truth, we begin life breathing with our diaphragm; observe a baby and you may notice how their belly rises and descends as he/she breaths. But through our lifetime, various environmental and/or psychological factors affect changes to our breathing patterns – we find ourselves unconsciously developing habits that may not be as efficient such as breathing from the chest, reverse breathing, shallow breathing – and we accept that it is what it is.
We can absolutely change the way we breath, especially when we realise that the diaphragm is a muscle; poor breathing habits may have left this muscle unused & weakened over time. But like all muscles, it can be strengthened, we just need to train ourselves to activate and use the diaphragm to assist in our breathing again.
To help us visualise how the diaphragm works, I found a simple little diagram that concisely illustrates this...
Inhalation - diaphragm contracts & pulls down + intercostal muscles contract to expand rib cage and chest for air to enter the lungs.
Exhalation - diaphragm relaxes to returns upwards + intercostal muscles relax so rib cage and chest contracts for air to exit the lungs.
Interested in finding out more about yoga and breath-work aka pranayama or developing a breathing practice through a 1:1 lesson? Get in touch with me here!
Hongyi the yogi
Full-time yoga teacher & trainee yoga therapist in London. Eager to share, eager to learn!