The Breathing Technique

Stage One - Rest Breath

Lie on your back and breathe as you would normally. How does it feel? Is your tummy rising? Do your ribs move at all? Make a note of your breathing pattern.

Next we would like you to place your hands on your ribcage so that your middle fingers touch, focus on your in breath. You want to inhale, opening the ribs so the gap between your fingers increases and then exhale and allow your ribs to come down and your fingers will come together.

Spend a bit of time doing this.

Try to avoid the shoulders lifting and falling or the tummy, use the intercostal muscles in your rib cage to get a lateral (sideways) movement of the ribs. We want you to visualise your ribs moving out like an umbrella opening.

Stage Two - Holding your Breath

When you have got the basics of the breathing, we want you to move on to the next step of holding your breath.

We want you to inhale through your nose for about two counts and out for about four counts. Really try to open the ribs as much as you can on each breath.

Follow this pattern for 3 breaths

  • Inhale for 2 and exhale for 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Inhale for 2 and exhale for 4
  • Inhale for 2 and exhale all the air out until your lungs feel empty.
  • At the end of this breath, hold your breath for a moment until you feel the need to breathe again. The next breath should be an inhalation.

If you were able to hold your breath for a long period of time it may be that you are either a deep sea diver with amazing lung capacity or more likely that you didn’t get all the air out of the lungs that maybe you could, so please keep trying.

Make this final breath like a deep sigh rather than blowing up a balloon as it helps to alleviate the amount of pressure being put into the abdominal cavity.

Stage Three - Relaxation of Abdominals

When you take this final big breath out you are aiming to hold your breath and let everything relax. This focuses on the abdominal muscles as they have just pushed all of that air out, you need to let them relax. You may become aware of a slight drop in your tummy as they dip down as they relax.

The next stage is only possible if these tummy muscles relax now – and don’t worry if you find this tricky – we all spend so much of our day pulling our tummy in asking it to relax can often be a challenge. Spend time on this part really letting all that abdominal tension go.

Stage Four - Rib Activation

This stage shows you how to move your ribs when you are holding your breath. First of all we need to remember that all the muscles in our body can be moved when we hold our breath, we use our ribs to breath but they can still move even when we hold our breath.

This exercise will help you work out what we need you to do. We want you to pinch your nose, and either keep your mouth closed, or put your hand over your mouth and then try to breathe in. You will feel your ribs moving as if you are breathing in. Do this for a few seconds, then release your nose and breathe freely again. Try this a few times so you can really feel what it is you do in order to get those ribs moving when you are not breathing.

Stage Five - All Together

Now let’s put it all together there is a lot to think about so take your time and don’t panic if this bit takes you a while to get. We expect it to take a bit of time.

  • Begin with your rest breaths
  • Inhale for 2 and exhale for 4, 3, 2,1
  • Inhale for 2 and exhale for 4
  • Inhale for 2 and exhale all the air out until your lungs feel empty.
  • Hold your breath
  • Relax your abdominal muscles
  • When you get to this point you may decide to still pinch your nose and hold your mouth shut to help you
  • Then try to open the ribs, make that same movement that you did in stage 4 the fake inhale. Breathing in without breathing in, I know mind blowing isn’t it!
  • As the ribs move you should feel a slight ‘pulling’ sensation around your tummy and if you have an abdominal scar around this area to. It should almost feel like you are pulling your tummy in although you know you are not.

Remember the ribs will not move if the tummy muscles are contracted so you may be aware of a little fight going on as the abdominals learn to switch off.

Keep practicing and aim to do about 15-20 of the rib flares a day with 3 rest breaths each time.

If you do not feel you are there, go back to Stage One.

The breakdown, what you want to feel, the relaxing of abdominals and a slight “pulling/lifting” feeling. You will not feel this in your pelvic floor like your standard pelvic floor exercises, but it is still working. In fact, it is working the 70% of the involuntary muscle fibres in your pelvic floor which is why the results are so fantastic! Yay!

Bonus video – Fascia release around the rib cage and band work to help master the technique.

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