Expand Lungs - Hands held in Prayer

The Breath Counteracting Modern Lifestyles

We know how to breathe. It is something that occurs to us automatically, spontaneously, naturally. We are breathing even when we are not aware of it. So it seems foolish to think that one can be told how to breathe when we are in a yoga class. Yet, one’s breathing becomes modified and restricted in various ways, not just momentarily, but habitually. We develop unhealthy habits without being aware of it. We tend to assume positions (slouched positions in front of computers and televisions) that diminishes lung capacities and take shortened breaths.

A normally sedentary person, when confronted with a perplexing problem, tends to lean forward, draw his arms together, and bend his head down. All these body postures results in reduced lung capacity. The more intense the concentration, the more tense the muscles become. The muscles in the arms, neck and chest contract. The muscles that move the thorax and control inhalation and muscular tenseness clamp down and restrict the exhalation. The breaths become shorter and shorter.

In our GENTLE YOGA sequence, we engage with movements and postures which are geared to counteract these muscular contractions by opening up the chest, by lengthening the muscles, and also, by working with a better quality breath to avoid these contractions in the first place.