Room to breathe

Taking a deep breathMake space for the lungs

To fully inflate during an inhale, the lungs need room to expand. The rib cage lifts and opens a bit upon inhalation, while the diaphragm moves down toward the abdomen. When we breathe, these two actions create space for the lungs to inflate.

There is always room for more air!

After a few decades of adapting to circumstances and social norms, most of us breathe differently from the ideal outlined above. Stress, tension, worry, anxiety and other challenging emotions impact the way we breathe. Over time, we might develop a habit of restricting the motion of our ribs and our diaphragm.

Two common restrictions of the breath

  1. When the abdomen is held tightly, we restrict the easy downward motion of the diaphragm. If the diaphragm cannot move downward, the breath is limited.
  2. If we hold tension in the small muscles between the ribs, we restrict the ribs’ ability to float with the breath.

Make more space

Softening the abdomen allows the diaphragm to move downward during inhalation.
Bone surrounds the lungs on all sides, but the base of the rib cage is muscle (the diaphragm). Muscle is much more pliable than bone. Creating space for the movement of the diaphragm directly benefits the lungs.
Gentle massage to the abdomen helps relax patterns of muscle tension in the abdomen.
Lie down in a comfortable position with a pillow under knees. Place your hands on your abdomen.
prepare for abdominal massage
As you exhale, gently increase your pressure.
As you inhale, release the pressure.
Explore your entire abdomen this way. With practice, you will notice that you can release tension and naturally increase the depth of your inhalation.

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Cindy Black

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  1. K.Balasubramanian on September 28, 2017 at 4:09 am

    Thank you madam lot of information given I wish you your service valuable for human beings Also inform any remedy for piles in acupuncture

  2. Bor J Wu on September 23, 2017 at 1:41 am

    Cindy: Appreciate for such wonderful information, you are awesome!!! Few months ago, I have car accident, my Ribs was out, I can’t breath, cough and laugh. now I know why. now I am recover, I should take good care of my surrounding muscles of rib cage and stomach massage too. Thanks!!!

  3. laxman on September 23, 2017 at 1:11 am

    Please tell me the correct technique of breathing during the daytime.

    • Cindy Black on September 24, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      I don’t have a specific technique for breathing during the day or night…I follow the general principle of making room for the ribs to expand and the diaphragm to move down during inhalation, and the opposite during inhalation.

  4. Jill on September 21, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks again Cindy…great information!

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