Question from our user:
I have trouble with breathing when it is said to pull the belly in and up and the ribs in and up.
I can then no longer breathe deeply in and out. I can only breathe into the chest. I thought while doing yoga you should always breathe into the stomach?
You are right when saying that breathing can become more difficult when activating your core. In many postures (e.g. warrior poses, tree pose, head stand) it is extremely important to keep the core active so that the lumbar spine and the crossbones on your back are being protected.
In case you really have the feeling that you cannot breathe properly anymore, you are perhaps forcing the stabilisation too much. Don’t worry, that happens often. In that case do only 50% of the pulling your belly and ribs in and up and breathe as deeply as you can.
Breathing is a very interesting subject in yoga. It is so that in Pranayama or breathing exercises as well as in Savasana, the end relaxation, you should breathe as deeply as possible into your lower belly.
Breathing into the belly calms you down physically, mentally and emotionally.
When the yoga postures become more demanding or when you need strength for stabilising, you can change to breathing into the chest. The chest will then expand in every direction with the breathing. Breathing into the chest will keep the strength in the core as the breathing is not flowing in so deep into the lower belly and that helps you to keep your asana yoga practice more stable.
There are some more dynamic yoga styles, such as Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga where only the chest breathing is used.