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Breathe yourself tall


Staff member
Dec 14, 2023
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When I describe breathing coordination, lots of students say, “huh, that’s the opposite of what I guessed!”

And it’s perfectly understandable, based on what we see happening in others and what we feel in ourselves.
“Don’t I rise a bit when I inhale and relax back down when I exhale?”

Yep, that may be what we see and feel…. but is that what we’re actually designed to do?

Let’s take an internal peek: imagine a little avatar of you, floating inside your lungs, observing what happens.


Look around:
Your ribs are the walls surrounding you.
Your diaphragm is the floor beneath you… which happens to be dome-shaped. The roof is open.

Here’s what triggers the inhale:
The walls and the floor move away from you, walls moving out and floor moving down… and air flows in to fill the increased volume.

Now the exhale: the diaphragm-floor and the rib-walls move back toward you, floor rising and walls moving in… sending the air upward toward your crown, then forward out your nose. The air and the diaphragm move UP, not down! We can actually grow taller as we breathe out!

There’s no sinking to exhale…. unless my habit is to collapse and squash down.


The heck with that, I don’t want to be squashed!

Can I think UP to breathe out, through the roof, so that my diaphragm can rise easily as my ribs come back in like an accordion and the air flows upward? Roof stays open, all the way!

Can I let my roof remain open as the air flows back in, letting my ribs move freely as my volume changes shape?

Watch the ribs and diaphragm in action.


There’s 3D movement through my whole torso, right through the pelvic floor and especially through my back and sides…

Imagine the glide of the organs and fascia, the beautiful exchange of inner and outer atmosphere!

Visit this excerpt from The Inspiration of Breath by my wonderful colleague Jean McClelland


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