As I work on bodies of all shapes and sizes, I notice that there is often very little and sometimes no movement in the torso. If you watch someone sleeping you can observe the natural state as the whole upper body fills and sinks with the breath. If we imagine inhaling into the lungs like an expanding balloon, the torso would expand to the front into the ribs, into the back. around the spine, upwards under the collar bones and the upper back, and if deep enough, to the belly and lumbar spine. This is a natural mechanism and it keeps us alive. The air inhaled, fuels the metabolic process which provides energy and renewal of cells, and allows the heart to pump. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the air that we breath; Kong qi (chi) combines with the food and water that we eat; Gu qi. This combination is vital to our well being.
The expiration releases waste products from the body. This movement also maintains some pliability in the layers of tissue.
A healthy body has tone and is pliable when pressed; imagine a ripe mango. Whereas a body holding tension where the layers of tissue are not moved by the breath, feels hard and resistant to the touch. Look at the wizened citrus fruit. Although the inside may still be soft, the outer casing is brittle, like a shell (fig1.) A fresh lemon is succulent and yields to finger pressure (fig2.)
I often ask myself whether it is considered impolite in our society to utter a sigh, or a sound.
If I ask a client “Do you notice yourself holding your breath” many of my clients say “Yes”. I suggest that an exhale will be a step to developing a healthier and habitual response to the breath holding. Although I did have one client who replied “ I don’t have time to do that”!
Breathing into the belly takes us to our feeling centre. There are millions of nerve endings in the gut see: “our second brain’ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain
It can be that we unconsciously don’t go to that place with the deep breath in order to avoid feeling. Anyway, that’s an interesting subject for another blog. Take the time to practice a couple of extra deep breaths a day. Out for a walk, in the bathroom, at the office or watching the TV. Breathe in, hunch the shoulders up to the ears, squeeze the face and fists, and then exhale with a sigh. Let me know how it feels