This is episode of MoveMedics TV, I teach you how to Practise Relaxed, Efficient Breathing.
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I show you 5 Different Positions to practise in, share tips to Facilitate better Awareness and Connection between your Brain, Breath, and Body to improve the Proprioception of your Breath, Dosage and Frequency for practice, and Important Safety Tips.
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In today’s video, I’m going to show you how to practice relaxed efficient breathing, what to do, five different ways to practise in, tips to help you improve your awareness and connection between your brain, breath, and body, and also dosage and frequency. Ready? Let’s jump in.
Hi, I’m Selina, physio from MoveMedics, welcome to my channel. I help people improve their movement for fun and function, with special focus on flexibility training and also for singing. If these sounds good to you, please subscribe to my channel and make sure you ding that notification bell so you don’t miss my new videos when they come out.
In the previous episode where we did Breathing Observation, I mentioned that if you do observe inefficient patterns of breathing in yourself that it is crucial that you see your doctor to figure out why that is happening, and until you have done that, these exercises we are looking at today may not be appropriate for you. By all means watch and learn so you are ready to go once you have been given the a-ok from your doctor. Okay.
I will first go through what to practise and then show you the five positions to practise in, then move on to tips to help you improve the proprioception of your breath, and we will finish up with dosage and frequency. I’ll leave time stamps for you so you can easily find what you need when you practise.
There are two things to do when practising relaxed efficient breathing and they are exactly the same as what we did in Breathing Observation. So first we practise quiet, gentle, regular, relaxed breathing, and then we practise the sequential inflation of your lungs followed by a breath hold.
So for that one we are doing it over four breaths starting with your regular breath, and then a slightly bigger breath, an even bigger breath, and finishing with the biggest breath you can comfortably take, and we add a breath hold at the end for three seconds, and then we gently and easily let your breath come out.
Now this whole process of taking four progressively bigger breath and holding your breath at the end actually has a name, it’s called Staged Basal Expansion with an Inspiratory Hold, and that is one cycle. So one cycle of Staged Basal Expansion has four breaths and we do an Inspiratory Hold at the end.
Remember this for now and we speak specifically about dosage and frequency later on.
The first position to practise in is in sitting, just like we did when we did observation, you are already very supported and comfortable so it is a very good position to practise in. The only thing different is that this time you will want to place your hand on your belly to help your awareness of where the movement of your breath should be happening first. And that is a very, very simple and useful cue to use, it’s super effective.
And then when you practise Staged Basal Expansion within Inspiratory Hold, you just add your other hand on your chest, so your belly hand can feel continually for your belly movement and your hand on your chest can feel for more and more chest movement as you take a bigger and bigger breath.
And of course you can also use different chairs, like last time when I mentioned that we won’t want to be using an office chair for observation, it is actually a good idea to practise on various different chairs once you have gotten the hang of the movement of the breath itself, especially if you do sit in an office chair all day.
You can also practise sitting cross-legged on the floor if that is comfortable for you. The key here is to make sure that you are sitting on your sit bones so you can stay upright and not rocking backwards, tucking under and going into a round spine position because that is not an efficient place for your diaphragm to work. Now a trick to help you do that is to simply sit on a small cushion or a folded up towel.
Ultimately, to be able to sit easily on the floor cross-legged is about improving your Movement Capacity in your hips and your pelvis so that option becomes naturally available to you, and I have a programme coming out for exactly that so do look out for that.
The second position to practise in is in the supine position so you are lying down, and you can lie down with your legs straight with pillows underneath your knees, or you can lie with your legs bent up. And in this position you are also going to place your hands on your belly and this time you are feeling for movement of your belly rising up to your hands as you breathe in, and falling away from your hands as you breathe out.
The third position to practise in is the side lying position. So lie on your side and place a pillow under your head and one between your knees for support. I was lying on my yoga mat on a hard wooden floor so I also placed a pillow under my bottom knee for support.
Once you are set up and are comfortable then simply drape your top hand across your belly, and this time you are feeling for your belly moving forward into your hands as you breathe in and pulling away from your hand as you breathe out.
Now in the side lying position it also makes it very easy for you to feel for your rib movement sideways, that bucket handle movement where your ribs flare up and out. So here I was cupping my hand gently around my lower ribs and feeling for that flare as I breathe in and it falls back in and down as I breathe out.
And when you practise lying on both sides it gives you the opportunity to also observe if you have any drastic side-to-side differences. Now we are not perfectly symmetrical being, having side-to-side differences is perfectly normal, but if one side is dramatically different than the other side, then it may be appropriate for you to consider doing some mobility work in your thoracic spine and your rib cage.
The fourth position to practise in is a four point kneeling position, so kneeling with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips, your spine is in a neutral position, so not rounded, not arched, somewhere comfortably in the middle.
Now in the four point kneeling position, gravity is really very obvious and helpful, when you breathe in you really do feel gravity pull your belly floop into the floor, and as you breathe out, because gravity is still acting pulling on your belly, you may not even feel much movement at all, except for a little bit of tension in your belly.
Because gravity is so very helpful in this area, this is probably a really good one for those of you who have a paradoxical or upper chest pattern for breathing because it really allows you to put your focus and your awareness into the belly part of the movement of your breath.
The last position to practise in is in standing. Stand with your feet comfortably hip width apart, be as tall as you easily can be, and simply drape your arms across your belly. And you’re feeling for belly movement forward into your arms as you breathe in and pulling away from your arms as you breathe out. You can practise standing in the one position or you can freely move around.
My favourite thing about this position is how inconspicuous it is, so you can take this exercise with you everywhere you go and sneakily practise your breathing exercises.
Here are a few tips to help you improve your proprioception for your breath, specifically we want to improve your Brain-Body Connection and Awareness of your lower ribs. We want to focus in on that bucket handle manoeuvre where your ribs flare up and out as you breathe in, and down and in as you breathe out.
One way of doing this is by simply giving yourself a hug. So here I’ve cup my hands around the bottom of my rib cage so I can really feel for my rib cage flaring into my hands as I breathe in, and away from my hands as I breathe out. I’m still able to feel my belly moving forward into my arms as I breathe in and away from my arms as I breathe out.
Alternatively, you can hug your rib cage with the same side hands on the same side ribs. So in this position I am lightly holding on to the bottom of my rib cage so I can relax my shoulders. Now this position is a very, very obvious position to feel for those bucket handle movement, you can really feel those ribs flare up and out into your hands as you breathe in, and come away and down from your hands as you breathe out, and depending on the size of your hands, you may be able to spread your fingers out and continue to monitor belly movement.
You can also use a towel to help with this facilitation. Here I have folded up a towel and scoop it around the bottom of my rib cage. When you hold on to the right spot on your towel, it really is quite effortless to keep it in place so this is a very easy one to do. And this one is also the best one to help you improve your awareness on your back, what I like to call the back ribs, because the whole band of the towel is there around the back of your rib cage and that really allows you to focus your awareness into that area.
Similar to using a towel you can also use a stretch band or a theraband. Here I have just scooped my stretch band around my bottom rib cage, and because the stretch band is elastic, it’s very, very responsive to movement. You can even pull the tension on a little bit to have even more feedback for the movement of your rib cage. Now that is not to say you need to go and buy yourself a band, I don’t believe in buying equipment unless you absolutely have to, but if you have one lying around, we can put that to good use, and if you don’t, that’s okay as well.
Whether you are learning a new movement, refining a movement, or retraining a movement, variety is super useful because it gives your brain lots of information to help it figure out and understand what it is you want it to do, so I do encourage you to try all the different practice positions and also the different hands-on facilitation positions.
But! When you’re new to using your hands for palpation and facilitation, you won’t yet have the sensitivity to feel for small movement and the movement of breath is small, which means you may inadvertently take a deeper breath than you intend to.
And because we are feeling for a movement, it can be very tempting to keep chasing that movement and end up taking a deeper and deeper, deeper breath, and remember I mentioned last time that if you take too many deep breaths in a row, you can make yourself dizzy so we don’t want to do that.
So make sure you are mindful that this can happen, and as a safeguard, whenever you use your hands on for facilitation, just do it three times and then take a break.
And that takes us nicely to dosage. In each practice session, pick one of the five positions and then do one minute of quiet, gentle breathing, and then do three cycles of Staged Basal Expansion with Inspiratory Hold, and then do one more minute of quiet, gentle breathing, and that’s it.
And remember if you do use your hands to practise facilitation, hands on for three, hands off for three. If you ever get dizzy practising your breathing exercises, STOP!
And how often to practice? In the beginning of learning a new movement or retraining a movement, it is good to practice every day to help you build new, or to refine your neural motor pathways.
So in the first few weeks, practice every day if you can. Once you have gotten the hang of the movement of your breath, the focus of your practice changes to your awareness of what you are doing throughout the day, so we want to make sure at that stage we have cues to remind us to check in to see what we are doing and make adjustment as need.
For example, every time you pick up your phone, which we do a lot, before you reply a message, if you have an email, or whenever you’re standing in a queue, waiting for a bus or in the shop, and you can even use your inconspicuous position to practice your breathing, without anyone knowing.
Apart from improving the efficiency of your breathing, there is a bonus benefit to practicing breathing, and that is it calms and relaxes you, and for good reason.
When we take a moment to pause and focus on our breathing, that is a form of mindfulness practice, it is a type of meditation.
And the practice of deep belly breathing itself soothes and helps regulate your nervous system, which is super important for stress management and emotional regulation, so I strongly encourage you to keep up with a regular breath practice because we can all do with a bit more peace and calm in our lives.
Once again a friendly reminder to those of you who have observed inefficient breathing pattern in yourself to get in touch with your doctor and get to the bottom of why that is happening.
If you do have questions about the exercises themselves, leave them in the comment for me.
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I want to thank you very much for hanging out with me today, I appreciate your lots and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.
And until then, thank you very much for watching and Be Free In Your Movement™