Clear & Focus Your Mind & Relax Your Body
Generally speaking you have 2 lungs. The right has 3 lobes and the left has 2 lobes so the left lung can make room for your heart on the left side of your chest.
If you look at the image you can use your imagination to divide the lungs on either side into an upper dome, a middle section and a lower section.
This is important, as you can isolate each section to activate different components to your breath. As always, if in doubt check with your health care provider before attempting any exercises described.
The Lateral Costal Breath (The opera singers breath)
If you trace a rib on your chest, from your sternum (breast bone), all the way round to your spine, it resembles a bucket handle.
As you breathe in, the bucket handle, or rib cage, moves out and up & as you breathe out, it moves down and in towards the centre of your chest.
Start by sitting upright on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Knees hip width apart above the ankles and palms facing up while they rest on your thighs. Straighten & lengthen the spine creating space between your lower rib cage and pelvis allowing the tummy to move in & out as you breathe. Your chin is parallel to the floor, lengthening the back of the neck so there is no strain.
Put your hands on either side of your rib cage and observe what happens when you breathe in through the nose (if possible) & out through the mouth. The chest expands outward on the in-breath & retracts inward on the out-breath. Do this for 3 to 5 breaths & observe this movement.
Now, actively draw a bigger breath in as you continue to keep your hands on your ribcage. Expand your ribcage without straining and practice this. As you repeat this technique you will find you are able to take progressively deeper breaths.
As you do so you are drawing breath deeply into the lungs but more so into the middle section on both sides.
This breath is very important to professional singers. In order to appear seamless when performing & preventing great gasping sounds on stage they use this breath.
This lateral costal breath will help you in your breath control during singing, speaking & sports.
As you master your breathing you can actively focus on it & use its power to oxygenate & awaken your body, to focus your mind while paying attention to the technique & to relax tension stored in muscle groups by sending your breath into different tense parts of the body. (I will go into this in future articles). Meanwhile have fun with the art of breathing consciously & pay attention to how you feel when you do this regularly. Enjoy!!