As I described in the first part of this article, high and tight breath hangs out in the upper chest, minimizes air intake and limits the three dimensional movement of the ribcage during respiration. More significantly, as this becomes habitual, it leaves the nervous system stuck in high alert.
I believe sensation is our very best teacher and Yoga Tune Up® fits the bill. My intentions for Emily became clear – rebuild the perception of three-dimensional movement in her ribcage and increase feeling in her lowest ribs. These tools from Jill Miller’s The Roll Model emerged as winners in this adventure for Emily:
- Ribcage Rehab -Place a Coregeous ball under the lower section of your sternum and sustain compression. The level of inflation of the ball should be matched to the tolerance of the student – less inflation minimizes the pressure and feels more tolerable. Breathe smoothly and steadily around the compression and follow the sensations of breath filling the backside of the ribcage.
- Rib Rock – Place two Therapy Balls vertically against the left side of your spine within your upper back. Wrap your left arm across your chest and then hug your right arm across. Inhale into your ribs and simultaneously pull your ribcage to the left, using the balls as a pivot point on which to hinge and wedging the balls more deeply against your vertebrae. Exhale and slowly return to center. Do this 8-10 times. (The Roll Model, p.290) This will awaken the muscles at the back ribs and unleash new sensation in this area.
Both of these tools will retrain the back ribs to welcome movement, release tacked down posterior muscles and create space for a smoother, steadier, more three-dimensional breath. This work assisted Emily in drawing lower and broader breath into her system and reduced her urge to yawn during practice. A step ahead to a truly balanced breath cycle!