Not only does healthy breathing give us needed oxygen, it settles our minds and gives us space from the inside out. Here are some other ways to expand the practice of how you think about your breath.
One way to think of the house of your lungs (your ribcage) is like a series of bucket handles. These handles attach to the spine on one side and your sternum and cartiladge on the other side. When you inhale the ribs move slightly out and upwards, like the bucket handle is swinging up towards the sky. When you exhale, the ribs soften down and in towards your center.
The main movers that cause the ribs to make this motion is a group of muscles called your intercostals. The inner layer and outer layer make a cross stitch pattern. The inner layer is responsible for forced exhalation and the outer layer is responsible for opening the ribs and allowing for inhalation. When you breathe it is not only important to let your diaphragm move down (which makes your belly rise), but it is also important to allow your ribs to expand and release. When you don't allow this motion, you are not getting the most out of your breaths and are probably holding on to unnecessary tension.
Mind body practices such as Pilates and yoga incorporate many exercises that open, strengthen and enhance our breathing apparatus. Breathing is crucial to all of our underlying strength and stability. One thing we can do to show our whole, better self to the world is to take time to breathe and center ourselves so we can enter the world clearly and with care for ourselves and others.
Here are some exercises to get you going. Happy breathing everyone!