The Importance of Posture when you Breath
This short and sweet series breaks down the topic of breathing into small bite-sized chunks.
This week we are focusing on the importance of posture during our breathing practice. The wrong position of your upper body and rib cage can shorten your breath, which restricts your breathing and makes it difficult to take a natural, deep breath.
Maybe take a look at how you are sitting at this moment: Are you hunched forward with a rounded spine? Or are you sitting with your chest pushing forward with an arch in your lower back? (or have you just straightened up nice and tall!)
A rounded position puts your spine in constant flexion making your ribs collapse inwards. Unfortunately, this tends to be the position that many people sit in all day if they sit at a desk, or especially if they’re on their mobiles for long periods, as their head dips to read a text the neck is forced out of its natural position.
If you tend to sit with your ribs jutting forward, your chest lifted and spine arched, or hyperextended, this position restricts your diaphragm from fully contracting as you breathe. We need to find a neutral position for our spine that doesn’t restrict all its natural curves and allows optimal movement of your diaphragm.
Either of these two postures: the slumping curved body, or the puffed-up chess position – tends to make us chest breathers, which leads to the activation of our fight or flight mode, anxiety, worry and stress.
When you breath correctly, as you inhale, your abdominal muscles release and stretch out, when you exhale, your abdominals contract. So, it is both the position of the ribcage and the engagement of your abdominal muscles that help the correct movement of the diaphragm, allowing you to take a deep, low breath.
The position of the ribs and movement of the abdominals are hugely significant in determining whether we develop dysfunctional or incorrect breathing patterns by restricting diaphragm’s ability to do its job correctly.
How to find your ideal posture
So, how do you try and find your ideal posture for breathing? Firstly, you need to find a comfortable position, which can be standing or sitting. Now, this maybe slightly different for everyone as we are all different and if you have back issues, you may prefer to support your back with a cushion or blanket.
So, if you’re seated you can sit cross-legged on the floor if that works for you, or if you prefer, maybe in a straight back chair. You can lean back against that if you like, or perhaps use a cushion or a blanket if you would like a little bit more support. When you’re ready, start to sit up as tall as you can, making your spine as long as possible, so it doesn’t feel very comfortable. Then when you’re ready, start to soften little by little until you still feel our spine is tall, but your body feels quite comfortable. So, maybe slide your shoulder blades a little down your back, perhaps tilt your pelvis under so you flatten your lower back a little, but not so that you lose the lower curve in your lumbar spine. Maybe a little tilt of your chin towards your chest just a couple of millimetres, and then gently pulling your rib cage back a little so you’re not jutting your chest out in front of you. Take a few minutes to get really comfortable, and perhaps you may be a bit taller than you think you can go. Then when you are settled – slowly inhale through your nose letting the air travel gently to the bottom of your lungs. Watch as your upper belly gently rises on your inhale and falls on your exhale. Stay as long as you like!
Thank you for joining me for Breathe Yourself Better.
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