Updated: Jan 21, 2021
As our life force, the breath is connected to everything we do.
Our posture, how we move and the ability to exert energy.
The diaphragm is the only skeletal muscle that is essential for life. It sits relaxed in a dome shape separating our abdomen from the thorax (chest cavity). The intercostal muscles are a small group of muscles that run between the ribs and help to form the chest wall, facilitating the movement of breath. On an inhale the intercostal muscles lengthen, lifting the ribs outward while the diaphragm "flattens" into the abdominal cavity. On the exhale the diaphragm relaxes back into the dome shape and the intercostal muscles shorten. With each breath we should have a horizontal movement through the sternum and rib cage as those muscles contract and relax.
Poor, slumped over posture impedes the ability to breath well. When the shoulders roll inward it restricts the sternums ability to expand outward and limits the rib cage of that horizontal movement. The lower back rounding forward limits the diaphragms ability to move from the dome shape and "flatten" downward into the abdomen.
The link of posture to breath is connected to the importance of strong muscles through the core and lower back. They facilitate the stability for a tall spine and core strength in good posture.
Rotation and Twisting Movements
Finding a seated twist while using the breath to guide the movement can feel especially delicious while in front of the computer. When done gently, it is a good way to check in with breath, posture and the spine. In this action, the breath is used to encourage both lengthening through the ribs and rotation through the abdomen, rib cage and spine. Twisting helps encourage blood flow to muscles and tissues, restoring the range of motion. It activates muscles around the lumbar spines and offers a gentle digestive massage.
The inhale acts to create space expanding through the rib cage and length through the spine. The out breathe encourages a twist as the intercostal muscles shortening and oblique muscles support the rotational movement.
When twisting with incorrect breathing patterns (inhale to twist, exhale to untwist) the movement will feel uncomfortable as the in breathe wants to expand and the rotation is restricting space.
Twist Movement Talk Through
Sitting upright with the feet flat on the floor, sit bones act as an anchor as the spine is tall and crown of the head reaches upward. Left hand lands on the right leg and the right hand rests on the chair next to the hip or just behind.
On an inhale there is expansion through the core and length in the spine.
On the exhale the rib cage, shoulder and eyes rotate towards the right of the room.
Repeat 5 breaths twisting to the right, then switch and complete with the right hand on the left knee and left hand behind the left glute to twist to the left for 5 breaths.