The Three Breathing Spaces.
Today, consider that you have three breathing spaces: an upper space, a middle space, and a lower space.
The upper breathing space is from the chin to the nipple line. The middle breathing space is from the nipple line to the navel. The lower breathing space is from the navel to the perineum.
Being able to isolate these places and breathe easily into each one of them, one at a time, one after another, and all of them at once, is an extremely important ability.
When breathing into the lower space, you want the belly to pop out on the inhale, to fill like a balloon. During the exhale, the opposite happens, your belly flattens as the balloon empties, and your navel travels toward the spine.
You might want to practice breathing into the lower space while lying on your back, with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
During the inhale, arch your spine (your lower back). During the exhale, press your lower back to the floor. You will sense that moving like this pumps the breath in and out of your body.
This arching and flattening of your lower back should simultaneously produce a gentle rocking or a tilting up and down of the pelvis.
When breathing into the middle space, you want to feel your rib cage expanding from side to side. And you also want to send breath into your back. Don’t throw your shoulders back like a soldier and just puff up your chest!
As you inhale into the middle space, feel your shoulder blades moving apart from the spine… as if you are spreading wings!
When breathing into the upper space, feel your collar bones rising up toward your chin. The movement is subtle but lively. Your shoulders will also be lifted up a bit, but don’t use your shoulders to breathe!
Play with breathing into only the lower space: packing the breath into your lower belly and pelvis. Let your chest remain relaxed and still… un-involved in the breathing.
Then, practice breathing into the middle space… expanding the rib cage from side to side.
Next practice filling the upper breathing space, allowing the belly to remain still and uninvolved in the breathing activity.
Focus on isolating each breathing space. You may want to put one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly, in order to monitor the movements in these different parts of the body.
Take your time. Don’t force or strain.