Relax Your Back for Better Breathing (Watch the video, see below!)

[jcolumns] Did you know that 50% of your breathing muscles are on your back? If you have knots and trigger points in your neck, back and shoulders, you can’t breathe well. That’s because you stop using your diaphragm, the primary muscle of respiration, and start using the muscles around your neck and upper chest instead. These accessory muscles of respiration are what your body uses for its fight-or-flight response—they’re your “stress out muscles.” We breathe 20,000 times every day. If you haven’t addressed the “stress muscles of respiration” with self-massage and myofascial release, you might be tightening your chest and neck muscles each and every time you breathe. [jcol/] [/jcolumns]

Try these 3 simple steps to breathe better from Trina Altman, Integrated Yoga Tune Up® Teacher Trainer and international presenter at yoga & fitness conferences.

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Support your head with a pillow or blanket if necessary. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your ribcage. As you inhale, feel movement underneath your hands. Notice if there is also movement in your neck and shoulders.

2. Take 2 tennis balls or 2 Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls and place them on either side of your spine at the bra strap/heart rate monitor strap level. Hug yourself and lean from side to side to release tension in the muscles and fascia. Inhale, swelling your belly and ribs. Exhale attempting to flatten the balls with your breath and body weight.

3. Place the balls along your spine starting below the neck, where the bottom of a shirt collar would fall. Repeat the hug and lean motion and the inhale/exhale pattern to make the balls travel down inch by inch toward the bra strap/heart rate monitor strap level. Keep it up until you’re able to have less tension in the neck and shoulders when you breathe.