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!
Enjoyed this article? Read Finding the Echo of Movement in the Pause
Just read the first part of this article and am thrilled to follow up immediately with the second. I’ve got someone who I believe will benefit greatly from these two techniques (former smoker) who is very new to his movement practice.
Great opportunity to bring more attention to the breath and practice different breathing technics
Great sequences for exploring my breath and helping me find more of three-dimensional movement in my rib cages. I’m a great belly breather and miss some of my mid section ribcage section.. thanks for sharing these practices , I love Jill Book, the Roll Model Book.
I love these exercises – thank you!
I have been searching for yawning solutions. Will try these exercises.
I need to spend some time with these two exercises. Often when I breathe deeply, even though my belly expands (so I know my diaphragm is contracting downwards), I feel tension in my scalenes and levator scapulae, and I can feel my shoulders elevate. If I freed up the intercostals and the muscles at the back of the ribs, I think it would allow for more expansion and less creep.
I’ve been exploring my own breathing recently. After years of martial arts and yoga, where the emphasis was heavily upon abdominal breathing, I noticed during full yogic breathing (abdominal-thoracic) a tightness, or reluctance in the transition between the abdominal phase and the thoracic phase. The result is that I cheat myself out of that delicious and relaxing expansion of my ribcage. So here I was thinking belly-breathing = down-regulation until I recognized this blind-spot in my implementation of belly-breathing.
I like like these exercises, it helps me to more concentrated on my breath and inhale and exhale deeper.
Great exercises! I have praticed those before with some pranayama technics as test and retest and I was amazed with the result in terms of the amount of air I was able to inhale after!