Breath & Posture

Breathing, Form & Posture | The Flexibility Challenge

Amanda Nicole Smith 100 Day Contortion Challenge 3, Fitness, Flexibility 0 Comments

Never underestimate the power of breath and posture.

Oxygen is fuel for the muscles. The more oxygen brought to your muscles, the less fatigued they become and the greater your chances of gaining flexibility.

Oxygen is not only fuel for our muscles, but for our brains. Mind power is essential for muscle control, balance, coordination, and cyclic thoughts on proper posture and form.

I hope you will take these exercises into all areas of your life, and realize the power of breath and posture and it’s effects on the mind, body, and spirit.

Breathing

Focused breathing is important for so many reasons, we know this. So my advice, just do it!! All the time!

Deep breath while your working, deep breath while you’re cooking, eating, running, walking, stretching, laying down, stressed out; breath everywhere and make it a habit to always come back to breath.

Breath supports you during it all and makes everything feel better!

Deep Belly Breaths

Deep Belly Breath

  1. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  2. Breath into the stomach, try to keep your chest still.

Deep 3 Second Breaths

deep 3 second breath

  1. Take a deep 3 second inhale through the nose, and extend upwards, elongating the spine.
  2. Exhale slowly through the mouth, and relax.

Short 1 Second Breaths

1 second breath exercise

  1. Take a deep 1 second inhale through the nose, and extend upwards, elongating the spine.
  2. Exhale through the mouth, and relax.

Cyclic Form/Posture Thought Patterns

Good form is key, because we’re building muscle memory, you really don’t want your muscles to remember bad form. Muscles hold your body in place, some muscles will be contracted and some relaxed in all positions, even just standing with good posture takes muscle memory.

To check if you’re using good form you’ll need any of the following:

  • A mirror
  • A video camera
  • A coach; the best option

Not many people have amazing form to start off with, it takes time and patience to learn what it feels like to have good form.

The littlest things can be out of whack and make the biggest difference.

You’ll have to cycle through the steps below a couple of times, because once you shift your attention to another area, the previous area tends to slip out of position.

Then once you achieve proper position, you’ll have to learn how to hold your muscles in that position while breathing deep and steady.

Infuse these activities within your stretching routine, in all movements and positions.

Simple Kneeling/Sitting Posture Check

Kneeling Posture Check

  1. Breath deep and steady.
  2. Elongate spine; neck extends upwards.
  3. Push chin back; base of head shifts back, chin slightly up.
  4. Shoulders back; engage upper back.
  5. Shoulders down.
  6. Core engaged (abs and lower back).
  7. Butt tucked under.
  8. Sitting/kneeling tall in hip flexors, hinging from the hips, not the upper back.
  9. Repeat 1-9 as needed.
  10. Once proper posture is achieved,
    1. Hold position, squeeze muscles, and take a few deep 3 second breaths.
    2. Relax major muscles on the exhale, trying to keep posture tall.

Repeat throughout your entire stretching routine.

and…

Repeat throughout life.

No seriously, I have to check myself constantly, or I’ll slip into poor posture. I check myself when I’m laying down, sitting up, standing up, upside down, standing in line, cooking, cleaning, driving, wherever and whenever.

I start with extending my entire body upwards, making minor adjustments from my neck and shoulders, work my way down to my toes, and then all the way back up to my neck for about 5 cycles.

I have to remind myself to breath and engage and relax certain muscles to be able to hold the new posture. There is a lot to think about and feel; but the more you practice mindful breathing and alignment, the more second nature it will become!

Simple Standing Posture Check

Standing Posture Check

  1. Breath deep and steady.
  2. Stand up tall from the hips, neck extending upwards.
  3. Butt tucked under.
  4. Engage leg and core muscles; hips stacked over ankles.
  5. Shoulders back; engage upper back.
  6. Shoulders down.
  7. Repeat 1-7 as needed.
  8. Once proper posture is achieved,
    1. Hold position, squeeze muscles, and take a few deep 3 second breaths.
    2. Relax major muscles on the exhale, trying to keep posture tall.

But wait there’s more….

If I were doing splits or even just laying down there would be a lot more added to that list, i.e legs extended and engaged, toes pointed; no sickle toes (toes pointing inwards) etc. I’ll go more into specific positioning over the next few weeks.

If you want to maintain good natural/resting posture, you’ve got to build your muscles with good posture. You’ll certainly gain strength from the dynamic stretching routines, so you really want to make sure you cycle through the good posture and form points during your stretching routine.

For the first couple of weeks, you should watch yourself when making these form corrections. If you don’t know what it feels like to have good posture, you’ll really have to get connected with the feeling. Once you feel what it feels like to have good posture, you can start to get into a more meditative state, feeling the corrections, rather than thinking about them. I like to close my eyes, so I can just focus on my body.

I started with really bad posture and have since had to focus a lot of attention on correcting. I’m still not perfect and probably never will be, but I’m putting in effort.

Be kind to yourself and know this is a journey and we all slip out of alignment from time to time. As long as you know what to do to correct yourself, you’re good to go!

Happy Breathing!

Join The Flexibility Challenge Community!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *