Breathing entails, inhaling and exhaling, filling and emptying... gestures, expression and rhythm; it is a spontaneous mechanism that adapts to each and every situation. The way we breathe reveals a personality. Emotions influence the way we breathe but, at the same time, breathing also modifies our emotional state. Breathing calmly naturally calms us. On the contrary, breathing quickly tends to irritate us. We tend to believe that there is only one way to breathe, when, in fact, there are as many ways of breathing as different situations require.

Generally speaking, we don’t really know very much about the act of breathing. If we want to breathe properly it isn’t necessary to breathe in to the point of inflating excessively our rib cage, nor is it necessary to blow out in order to empty the air. Strangely enough, what we don’t know how to do very well is to exhale, that is to empty ourselves and liberate ourselves of the air we have used and then naturally wait for the moment to come when we need to breathe in again. We tend to believe that there is only one way to breathe, when, in fact, there are as many ways of breathing as different situations require. The problem is that often there is not always harmony between the situation we are in and the way we breathe and this causes our breathing to be accelerated and unnatural. Having said this, let us explore the muscles and biomechanical principals involved in breathing.

The air we breathe passes through many “twist and turns” before reaching our cells. Muscles, bones, internal organs… everything is activated by breathing. The thoracic cavity expands and the spine elongates when we breathe in and shortens when we breathe out. Breathing also makes our joints vibrate and it tones and relaxes our muscles. It is a source of energy and a powerful tool that can even modify our physical configuration.

The main muscles, that is, the most powerful ones that come into play are: the diaphragm, the intercostal muscles and the abdominal muscles. The secondary ones are the scalene muscle, the pectoral muscles, the sternocleidomastoid and the trapeze which make up the structure of the neck and shoulders. These secondary muscles are normally only used during short periods of time. One of the reasons why our breathing capacity is at times insufficient is because some muscles are given preference over others. Consequently, we tire and the respiration system becomes overloaded.
The diaphragm, which intervenes actively in respiration, is shaped like a dome. The heart and the lungs are situated above the diaphragm and the liver, the stomach and the digestive system are below it.
The lungs are the connection between the inside our body and the outside and their function is to turn oxygen into carbon dioxide. They are responsible for ventilation and exhalation.

Breathing in nourishes us, oxygen penetrates our kidneys and our liver. Breathing out calms us when the air leaves our lungs and heart. A long deep breath results in a sigh and this in turn relaxes the diaphragm. A sigh lightens the pressure on the heart and makes us feel calm and serene. Breathing correctly in all situations helps us to recuperate organic harmony and to correctly position our internal abdominal organs.