Breath is life force and essential to supporting all the functions and systems in our bodies, thereby regulating health. Those with imbalanced health generally have compromised, shortened or reverse breathing patterns.
As you see in healthy babies, their bellies expand and their ribcage expands 3-dimensionally as they inhale, both releasing and drawing inward slightly on their exhale. This happens without thought, holding or restriction. This normal breath pattern is called Diaphragmatic Breathing or Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilizing breath. The diaphragm lays horizontally, like a tent across the base of the ribcage, contracting and descending on the inhale to draw breath into the lungs, lengthening and ascending to send the breath out of the lungs.
A well moving diaphragm generates Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) as it works with the trunk and abdominal muscles to create internal positive pressure, resulting in functional strength and stability. Intra-abdominal regulators are the thoracic diaphragm, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
As we age and experience stress, societal pressure and traumas our breathing becomes affected, locked, sometimes paralized and deficient in function. Shallow or irregular breath displays most often as a “puffing” in the chest. Frozen breath displays as little to no ribcage movements The inability to breathe has significant effects on our mental clarity, digestion, sense of well-being, sleep patterns, peace of mind and overall health. The absence of breath is directly tied to mind/body tension and pain and long term, dis-ease and chronic conditions.
Since our breath is so tied to body, mind and spirit, mastering diaphragmatic breathing leaves us feeling lighter, more energized, in less pain, with more clarity and peace of mind. – Carrie Meyer
There is so much to learn and share around breathing. And part of my goal with this blog is to educate clients about why breath is so important. It is the foundation of the practice of yoga and one of the most important tools that we use as SomaYoga therapists.