Diaphragm and posture related to Effective Breathing

Breathing is something that we do for our whole life but don’t think much about at all. It appears like an action that is even negligible. It’s a process of inhaling air into and exhaling air out of lungs. Nowadays, with our hectic, stressful, fast pace lifestyle, a lot of us does not realize that we are breathing too shallow, using just 1/3 of our lungs’ capacity. Meaning needing more effort when more oxygen is required and waste is not being effectively being eliminated in the process. Thus being able to breath effectively will mean ability to remove waste products well, thus allowing more space for nutrients required by body to be inhaled in the process.
In order to breath, many muscles are involved in the act of inhalation and exhalation, including intercostal muscles (external intercostal, internal intercostal and innermost intercostal), not to mention the most important of all, diaphragm. Other muscles involved also included abdominal muscles, which are mainly involved with exhalation, as well as back muscles, which works as a supporting role in maintaining upright posture required for more effective breathing, although there are a lot more other muscle groups involved. From personal experience, I had understood that poor posture can have a significant effect on the quality of one’s breathing.
During inhalation, external intercostal muscles (Musculi intercostales externi) works by contracting and pulling up and out our rib cage, thus expanding our lung space, mostly on the upper part of lungs. There are of cos other muscles involved such as pectoralis and scalene, to name a few. At the same time, diaphragm, being the biggest and most important muscle when it comes to breathing, will also contract and pushes downwards, towards abdomen, expanding lung space of the lower lungs. The diaphragm is attached to the base of the sternum, the lower parts of rib cage, and the spine. With poor posture, such as with one’s back slouched and hunched over, our chest and rib cage will have more difficulty filling up with air during inhalation compared to an upright, open chest position. This is because the diaphragm will be limited in this position. Imagine when you try to blow up a balloon and it was being held tightly by hands, more effort is required to expand the balloon, yet it will still not be blown up as other balloon that are not being limited. Simply put, our habits with postures is equal to our breathing habits.
Learning yoga reinforces not only the benefits of having good postures and deepens my understanding of its relations with effective breathing. Understanding means knowing where to stretch out the tight, tensed muscles, such as neck and pectoris; and which area to be strengthened, such as back muscles. At the same time, abdominal breathing emphasis on the practice on how to engage diaphragm, which in turns strengthen the diaphragm, leading to using less effort and energy to breath as effectively. Interestingly, when we learned and practice abdominal breathing, posture actually improved, since sloughing does not support proper abdominal breathing!