Lateral Breathing

There are many types of breathing, and different times we engage them.

Most dynamic sports and dance requires us to breath more shallowly, up in our chest for power and endurance.

Yoga and mediation requires us to focus our breath deeply.

Incorrectly breathing can cause much tension throughout the body due to secondary breathing muscles

over engaging. Especially of note here are neck muscles. If we "breathe" mainly from our neck muscles they

become over worked, and tight. Our head feels heavy because our neck muscles have fatigued.

If certain neck muscles become so tight they can constrict the nerves that innervate the arm causing tingling

and a sense of numbness down the arms. Headaches can also result from all this neck tension.

When we address groups of people, when we perform, we are required to express mainly from our upper bodies. If we are anxious, nervous, or rushing, we unfortunately forget how to breath correctly and our

necks, pecs, and upper traps take over.

Correct breathing increases the efficiency of oxygen supply to muscles.

The concept of Lateral Breathing asks us to breath from our diaphragm (primary breathing muscle) and intercostal muscles that separate the ribs. Focus is drawn to the lowest part of our rib cage and abdominal muscles. A good way to feel this is to place your hands around the base of your ribs and top of the diaphragm. 

As you breathe in feel your rib cage expand side ways (laterally) rather than puffing them out and up in front

of you. Air is being pushed down into the diaphragm which will expand gently. Minimal to no movement should occur in the upper chest and shoulders. I like to imagine my ribs expanding under my armpits. 

This is the most efficient way to breathe. It is a lot "smaller" and quieter than you may think.

Indeed it is a lot easier requiring you to do less with your muscles. It feels calm and centering. 

At the times when you are not dynamically engaging your body try to incorporate lateral breathing into your everyday. It is especially good when you are sitting at a computer. See how it changes your anxiety and stress levels. By taking the breathing work away from our necks, pecs, and shoulders we will have more energy,

clearer thoughts, and hopefully less achy pain!  

Fighting Fit