Learn how to breath : the breathing kinetic
Breathing is first of all the biological function that allows the absorption of oxygen and the rejection of carbon dioxide thanks to the respiratory system. This function is supported by a joint and visceral system: the thoracic cage and the lungs. The musculoskeletal articulation of our breathing allows us to « live thebreathing gesture » in many different ways.
But after all, what’s the point of breathing ?
To live, to breathe, to oxygenate, to laugh, to cry, to speak, to sing, to cough… Breathing allows us to play on our muscular tone. It allows us to relax, to tone up. Breathing supports the emotions, pleasure or pain… Present in the central core, it also support the movement as in dance or calligraphy.
What’s the right way to breathe?
In body practices, we can meet many breathing instructions that may even contradict each other. “When I raise my arms, I inhale, when I release my arms, I exhale” or “I inhale through my nose, I exhale through my mouth”. Then it can be difficult to understand what is the correct way to breath ? In fact, there are speficifs traditions of breathing techniques for each practices. Diving, singing, yoga or sophrology require very different breaths. Nowadays, abdominal breathing is in vogue but this has not always been the case. In the 1970s, the Swedish gym was very popular and advocated for the benefits of large costal breaths!
In fact, neither of them are toxic. We will see together that it is especially interesting to learn the ability of navigating between these different types of breaths. Learn how to change our way of breathing and cultivate a real breathing garden.
Rib cage’s mobility
What the rib cage looks like ?
The rib cage is formed forward by the sternum – this flat and vertical bone that can be compared to a tie or a sword. From there start the twelve pairs of ribs which are attached backward to the thoracic vertebrae, along the spine. In the upper and inner part of the cage are located the two lungs and the diaphragm, the main inspiratory muscle. Often compared to an inverted bowl or a jellyfish, the diaphragm is a large muscle web attached to the inner walls of the rib cage.
Lungs/diaphragm: what are the forces involved?
The lungs are located very high! They start just above the colar bones and finish more or less to the strenum’s level.
The lungs are an elastic mass that always comes back to itself. Like a … elastic!
Just below the lungs, the main breathing muscle is attached : the diaphragm. It is an inspiratory muscle that, when it contracts, pulls the lungs down. Lungs get longer, air fills, it’s inspiration. When the diaphragm looses, the elastic return of the lungs pulls the diaphragm up and rise into the cage, towards its resting position. The air is expelled, it is the exhalation.
Inpiration is muscle contraction.
Exhalation is muscle relaxation.
That’s why it’s usually on the exhalation that we release the tension, we relax.
Why is it interesting to work on the cage flexibility?
Due to their curves and thinness, the ribs are very flexible bones that allow to modulate the shape of the chest. At the front, they are connected to the sternum via costal cartilages that are even more flexible and elastic than the ribs themselves. Anatomically, the rib cage is therefore a very flexible part of the body. This flexibility is maintained by respiratory motion and overall the whole-body mobility.
The flexibility of the cage thus enables breathing to be freed: it amplifies its volumes and opens up spaces.
Aging and lack of mobility tend to tighten and close these joint spaces. To maintain the flexibility of the cage, it is necessary to maintain movement.
Make the cage more alive
In all the joint spaces of the body we can find sensitive sensors that give us information about the orientation of the body in space, our posture, our movements… It is by moving, by stretching, that the sensors are awakened and then send back to us a finer and clearer consciousness of our body. And therefore of ourselves!
Maintain the mobility of the rib cage thus helps to strengthen and stimulate the body patern, which is the anatomical and postural consciousness.
Breathing awareness workshops
Improve the body awareness
Developing an anatomical awareness is a practise that I love working on in psychomotor therapy. The body is our first space. The better we know it, the better we know ourselfs.
The consciousness of our body enriches our sensitive experience. Thanks to the observation of drawings we can picture our own skeleton, our joints and thus better understand our mobility or our postural fit. Therefore body awareness allows us to increase our ease and posibilities.
The awareness of our body’s movement refines the sensation and perception we have of ourselves. Then situated between our sensation and our imagination, we can experience our own body organization.
The practise of body awareness teaches us to turn our look inward and adopt a posture of observer and explorer of ourselves.
«Exploring the body is like to explore the Palace of Versailles! » would tell us Blandine Calais-Germain.
» Well, I feel better.. ! »
Breathing is a central tool for many body practices. As we have seen, breathing supports the movement, supports the posture, frees the emotions. In a mindful relaxation session, the breathing is at the core of our practice. Taking time to breathe with awareness, navigate in our different breathing spaces, work the deep breath, the global release … The breathing proposal then take the appearance of a passe-muraille allowing us to switch from one muscular state to another, from one state of mind to another.
Body movements support this body awareness and breathing opening. Muscle stretching lying on the floor or standing-up, self-massages, joint awakening … are all exercises to stimulate our corporeality and proprioception. My anatomy books are also real allies in our sessions. We take the time when it is necessary to dwell on the drawings of muscles and bones. To understand them, visualize them and then come and make them live throught the movement in our own body.
Relaxation, synonymous with mindfulness, calm and rest, is also sought after. This lowering of the muscle tone is gradually inscribed in the body and smoothly, like a water that decays. Immersing oneself in a conscious and rested breath opens up a world of infinite possibilities and resources.
Lola Fontana – Psychomotor therapist
All the drawings are taken from Blandine Calais-Germain’s book “Respiration – anatomie du geste respiratoire” at Editions Désiris, 2007