Mindful Breathing is a technique taught for thousands of years for many different reasons, but today I would like to teach this for one key benefit: Rib Mobility.
Most of us are breathing too shallow. Our ribs are not as mobile as they should be as a result. After years of this, our entire rib cage can lock down causing rib head blockages and other painful rib misalignments. Focusing on your breath and the movement of your ribs is key to unlocking your rib cage and allowing your ribs to begin moving again. You may even begin breathing deeper which has many other health benefits as well.
To begin, take a deep inhalation and feel your ribs expand and rise. On a typical inhale your ribs should all come closer together while your abdominal muscles relax. On your exhalation feel your ribs relax and separate from each other. Your rib cage should lower towards your pelvis while your abdominals pull your ribs down. Depending upon your situation, you may need to emphasize the inhale or exhale more. You can determine which by how each feels while you are really paying attention to it.
Here are some somato-emotional orientation observations relevant to breathing. You may be stuck in more of an inhalation end of the breathing cycle (ribs up and rib cage expanded) or the exhalation end of the cycle (ribs down and rib cage contracted). [Myers, 2009]
- Inhalation: Those stuck at the inhalation end of the breathing cycle tend toward a false heartiness, relying too heavily on the impressions and responses of others for their sense of self.
- Exhalation: Those stuck at the exhalation end of the breathing cycle tend toward depression and introspection, relying too heavily on their own internal world.
- What to do with pain.
- Therapeutic Massage / Bodywork