4 Steps to Improving Your Breathing

If you have tension in the upper body then it's possible you are not breathing optimally. It takes practice to breathe with awareness and to breathe more fully, recruiting all of the muscles for respiration, so be patient.

Step 1 to improving your breath and reversing any habitual patterns is to simply observe the breath.

Step 2 is discovering if you can, the different movements in your body as you breathe. Ideally, when we are in a state of rest, we are wanting to breathe belly, side ribs, chest and then collar bones. We call this the 4 part yogic breath.

Step 3 discover the other less gross movements in my body as you breathe. Bringing awareness to the slight nod forwards and back of the pelvis. This movement is really subtle so please don’t worry if you don’t quite feel it.

Bring awareness also to any movement you might feel in your shoulders. Perhaps shoulders rotating outwards on the inhale and internally rotating on the exhale. Again don’t worry if you don’t have it.

Step 4 awareness also on the 3 diaphragms used in breathing might be useful. The one at the base of the throat that lifts on the inhale, the 2nd in the chest and the 3rd in the pelvic floor. These both descend on inhalation. These 3 diaphragms also expand outwards - like a fan.

Breathing well and engaging all 3 has a profound effect on many of our body's systems. In addition to respiration; digestion, elimination, fertility, menstruation all are likely improved and breathing well also helps to down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system and lower inflammation.

A diagram of the 3 diaphragms is shown below.

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Source : The breathing book - Donna Farhi

The dance of the diaphragms

A short mindful breathing practice focusing on the 3 diaphragms in the body. To be done seated.

and beyond there are numerous breathing practices focusing on the anatomy of the breath. Maybe explore what you can find or sit with yourself and simply breathe and see what you feel and experience.

Pinning your mind to the breath.

Peace in the current moment.

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