How to Drive Our Movement

The muscles of our skeleton are like the axles of a car and the nervous system is like the motor, except the human body is infinitely more complex. The healthy rhythm of the nervous system is elemental to pain-free movement. And breath control is a key player in maintaining this.

Many of us have learned, unintentionally, to relinquish all breath control to the autonomic nervous system. This is as it should be except when we have learned patterns of poor coping that leads to anxiety, depression, dissociation, etc. Breathing is in fact a part of the autonomic nervous system, yet the only autonomic function that we can consciously change. A healthy breathing pattern can facilitate positive responses such as balanced para-sympathetic (calming) and sympathetic (fight or flight) action and improved biomechanics. The role of the breath in biomechanics is central to this article.

In my practice I find that individuals are often limited in their breathing mechanics in their lower back region and/or their upper chest. And most often they have a hard time understanding how to stabilize the body while maintaining fluidity of the breathing pattern.

As we inhale, the broadening of the ribcage in the back and the upward rolling of the chest allows the spine to be more neutral which happens to be its strongest orientation. These respiratory movements are often the ones that are restricted yet the ribcage should expand all the way around. If we are in motion we must also strike a balance with the muscles that stabilize our pelvis and spine. These primary spinal stabilizers are the pelvic floor group, the transverse abdominis (TA) and the multifidii. The low belly muscles have to be drawn inward to a varying degree to stabilize and many individuals I coach feel that the breath must be compromised. It is not only biomechanically possible, but it is necessary to breath efficiently while maintaining fluid action of the stabilizers so we can brace our bodies in movement. Simultaneously, the slow pace and expansion of the breath keeps us calmly alert and economizing our action. This means we use what we need, but no more.

Watch this brief video so I may guide you through the breathing mechanics. Breathing patterns are just like other muscular patterns in that the more frequently you train the improved pattern, the more likely your systems are to adopt them automatically. Be mindful of this from moment to moment and enjoy the changes that come. For a greater understanding of your bodies breathing mechanics, contact me for a private session. Bringing this awareness to individuals is an endeavor that I truly cherish.


Annette Bray

Annette guides clients through movement using postural awareness techniques and the modality of yoga to bring physical and mental balance.

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