Spinal Movement Sequence (Part 26): Breathing Exercises to Strengthen your Trunk and Spine

This video is Part 26 of a YogaSynergy Spinal Movements Sequence taught by physiotherapist and Director of Yoga Synergy, Simon Borg-Olivier, which he teaches in person in courses throughout the world as well as Online in courses at RMIT University and Online in courses at YogaSynergy called Yoga Fundamentals and Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga.

Simon Borg-Olivier in Urdhva Yoga Dandasana

Simon Borg-Olivier in Urdhva Yoga Dandasana

In this part, Simon Borg-Olivier, describes the main muscles in the abdomen and then shows how it is possible to activate muscles that allow you to breathe into the abdomen or into the chest and breathe out from the abdomen or from the chest. Then he shows how to activate exactly the same muscles without actually breathing. These exercise help to strengthen the muscles of breathing as well the trunk (or core) itself. They also help to increase lung capacity as well as increase the mobility of the spine.


Edited Transcript with Notes:

There are four main muscles in the abdomen. The deepest muscle is the transverse abdominis. Then the next two layers are the internal abdominal oblique and the external abdominal oblique. The most surface layer is the rectus abdominis,which are two muscles which come from the front the base of the front of the ribs to the pubic bone and sometimes they’re called the “six pack muscles”. These front muscles can become active simply by pushing the hips forward. If I push the hips forward you can see that the front of my abdomen is firm and the sides are relaxed. Most people, can get this affect by simply pushing the hips forward, but everything else tends to become tense too. However, most people, can push the hips forward and if you breathe into the abdomen you will feel the sides start to feel like they’re getting softer while you’re breathing in but the front will stay firm. When I exhale fully (and expand the chest without breathing) and you see this muscle appear in front (nauli) here this is done because I am pushing the hips forward. So, I exhale fully, hold the breath out and expand my chest as I’m breathing into the chest but not. But this in itself is an art, because most people cannot control chest expansion unless the abdomen is held firm. Most people will only breathe into the chest if the abdomen is held firm. The problem with this is that is makes the heart beat faster and stimulates the nervous system more. So, the ability to control your muscles of inhalation and exhalation is often emphasised in exercise as if it’s something to do with benefit of taking air in and out. But in fact, the real benefits of using the muscles of inhalation and exhalation are more anatomical. I can breathe in with my abdomen, I can breathe in with my chest, I can breathe out from my abdomen, I can breathe out from my chest. Or I can do the same in these four places without breathing. [Demonstration] Into the abdomen, breathe in. Into the chest, breathe in. Out from the abdomen, breathe out. Out from the chest, breathe out. The same again, I will point without breathing.

You can see a demonstration of the the entire sequence by clicking HERE

You can see Part 25 of the instructional videos of the sequence by clicking HERE

If you want to learn more from YogaSynergy and its Directors Simon Borg-Olivier MScBAppSc(Physiotherapy) and Bianca Machliss BScBAppSc(Physiotherapy) you can enrol in one of the comprehensive and award winning Online courses at YogaSynergy called Yoga Fundamentals (a very practical course for anyone with an interest in yoga, exercise or health) and Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga (a more technical course for teachers, therapists and experienced students). You can also do the more advanced version of these courses online at RMIT University as part of a Masters of Wellness Degree or as part of most bachelor degrees from participating Universities throughout the world.

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