Strengthen Your Diaphragm

Strengthen Your Diaphragm

Resistance-Band Breath Technique

breathe

STRENGTHEN YOUR DIAPHRAGM

Strengthening your diaphragm. Is that a thing? It absolutely is, just like any other muscle you develop and strengthen in your body. The diaphragm is arguably one of the most important because it is one of the main muscles that helps you breathe. How do you strengthen the diaphragm? One way to work with this muscle is to engage it. This happens naturally when we inhale, of course, because of the natural movement that occurs: The diaphragm moves downward towards the lower vertebrae in order to create space, while the vacuum of pressure pulls air into the lungs. What Matt demonstrates today is not this natural engagement but instead a sustained engagement in order to work on the endurance and strengthening of the diaphragm.

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA

Maintaining the sustained engagement of the diaphragm may sound reasonably simple; however, it may be quite uncomfortable if it’s something you’ve never practiced before. In order to train your body and nervous system for the mechanics of each movement and/or drill ahead, Matt prepares you in his current immersion, Breath of Fire, with a breath technique at the beginning of each class. 

Bhastrika pranayama is the ideal pairing for the resistance-band technique that Matt demonstrates in today’s video. Bhastrika pranayama is referred to as Breath of Fire, or Bellows Breath. This breath technique involves emphasis and effort on both the inhale and the exhale. Practicing a few rounds with multiple repetitions gets the brain on board, particularly with the action of the inhale. The action of pushing your belly out on the inhale provides more force, focus, and movement of your diaphragm.

WATCH THE VIDEO

STRENGTHEN YOUR DIAPHRAGM: RESISTANCE BAND BREATH TECHNIQUE

HOW DOES BHASTRIKA COMPARE TO KAPALABHATI?

So, why not Kapalabhati pranayama as preparation for the resistance-band technique Matt explores today? It’s because the difference between Bhastrika and Kapalabhati is where the emphasis is placed in the breath. With Bhastrika, the inhale is quite active, whereas with Kapalabhati, the inhale is passive. This creates more emphasis on the exhale and the movement “in and up” of the transversus abdominis. Visually, the two breathing practices may appear very similar, but the sensation and experience are quite different.  

Matt advises you to build gradually. For example, you may start with 15 repetitions and then gradually move your way up to 30. The goal is to gradually become more familiar with pushing your belly out, thus moving the diaphragm down in order to train it for strength. What becomes apparent is that you actually affect more than the diaphragm. You tap into connections with other core muscles.

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MORE THAN YOUR ABDOMINALS

Your core is much more than just your abdominal muscles. The exercise Matt breaks down today requires quite a bit of work from your iliopsoas muscles, which are also part of your core. Creating strength in the diaphragm includes exploring sustained engagement outside of isolation, and activating the iliopsoas in conjunction with the diaphragm means that you are incorporating more of your core muscles and therefore creating more integrity within the whole “core system.” The act of pushing your belly down and out on both the inhale and the exhale also supports the connection with the core muscles in your back body (e.g., erector spinae and multifidus).

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

RESISTANCE-BAND BREATH TECHNIQUE

First of all, if you’re familiar with the core exercise called Dead Bug, you’ll be familiar with the basic mechanics of this exercise. What may be new for you is the consistent activation of your diaphragm while executing the core work.

What role does a resistance band play with this breath/core technique? Well, as Matt explains it, the band acts somewhat like the transverse abdominis and is there to entice you to pull your belly in and up. What you will actually do is push your belly down and out, into the band.

This action, in addition to the cross action of pressing your opposite hand into your thigh and the thigh into your hand, is what engages your iliopsoas muscles.

This is much harder than it appears. Of course the level of difficulty is increased due to the balance factor, but it’s really the engagement of your diaphragm that multiplies the sensations in this technique.

Expand on this experience in Matt’s current immersion, Breath Of Fire. Delve into deeper knowledge of your core muscles in order to both breathe and move better.

See you on the mat!

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Breath Of Fire Immersion

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

Continue Learning

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Learn To Fly In Side Crow

Learn to Fly in Side Crow

Get to the Core with 3 Variations

ARM BALANCE

LEARN TO FLY IN SIDE CROW

Getting to the core of this arm balance will awaken a potential in your body that you may not be aware is even present. Learning to fly in Side Crow actually goes deeper than going through the motions of different variations. If you’ve been practicing with Matt, then you know that he teaches and applies very specific techniques within a posture and/or its variations; these techniques show you how to intellectually approach the execution of a yoga posture. The 3 variations you’ll see in today’s video will show you how to properly activate the muscles (obliques, abductor group, adductors, and hip flexors) in order to tap into the potential that awaits you.

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

THE 2 MAIN ACTIONS

The clips from today’s video are taken from the Anatomy of Arm Balances immersion. In the full class, Matt invites you to step back from balancing in the posture so you can actually connect with your core muscles. How is this done? It’s the positioning of the arm that’s furthest away from your body that allows the core connection to take place. You’re left with no choice but to utilize the obliques to gain height. Action #1 then is to hike the top hip up towards the same-side shoulder (obliques and gluteus medius activation). Action #2 requires the activation of the hip flexors. Here, you’re pulling your knees towards your chest while energetically pulling your bottom knee (if it’s the right) towards your right shoulder. This common thread runs through all 3 variations in some form. Let’s examine the techniques involved.

WATCH THE VIDEO

LEARN TO FLY IN SIDE CROW: GET TO THE CORE WITH 3 VARIATIONS

SIDE CROW: NO PROPS

Starting with this variation provides a nice baseline for you to see where you may need to place more emphasis. You’ll see how wide the distance is between Matt’s hands. Spreading your hands far apart forces you to lift the hips up as high as possible, which turns on the upper obliques. Dropping the hips (which is common) significantly minimizes your use of the obliques. These 2 main actions, along with leaning more forward and of course gripping your fingers into the ground, are the keys. If you are challenged anywhere along the chain of events, dial it back and work on the sensations of the activations (e.g., hands wide while lifting and lowering the hips with a contraction in the obliques). Still unsure what to feel? Have a look at the variations with props.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

  • Deepen your yoga practice
  • Build confidence speaking in front of groups in person and online
  • Learn foundational class structures and templates
  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

SIDE CROW WITH A STRAP

This Side Crow variation with a strap is a great option to explore if you require more awareness of the upper obliques. This particular variation also places weight on the activation of the tensor fasciae latae (TFL). The TFL is both a hip flexor and internal rotator. The internal rotation helps to fire up the abductors of the bottom leg. Doing this creates more stability and provides greater access to the posture. Adding a strap doesn’t make it easier, but what you will receive is feedback. Pressing into the strap is like pressing into the guiding hand of a yoga teacher. You won’t be able to ignore the sensations here, I promise you. The abductor muscles will speak to you, and it will be quite the conversation!

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

SIDE CROW WITH A BLOCK

Lastly, Matt demonstrates Side Crow with a block. Placing a yoga block between your thighs or shins helps you to squeeze everything into the center. Here you’ll feel the adductors while you try to hold the block in place. This option is closer to the first variation as regards shape, so it’s a great one to incorporate into your practice to encourage the 2 main actions with your legs hugged in towards one another.

EXPLORE AND INTEGRATE

In conclusion, unlearning some of the habits you’ve patterned that don’t require you to focus on just how strong can become in Side Crow will pay off in the long run. When the effort is appropriate, it is what drives you forward—as Matt always teaches, “explore and integrate.” Thinking about the possibilities available to you is actually pretty exciting. When you focus on building strength, you can learn to fly in Side Crow. After strength, weightlessness and lightness in the posture follow. A challenging arm balance like Side Crow will then emanate more ease than effort.

Register for Matt’s February immersion, Breath of Fire. This immersion will go deeper into how you can access your core muscles in order to progress in the awareness of your body and your practice.

See you on the mat!  

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Anatomy Of Arm Balances

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

Continue Learning

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read more
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read more
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Hips and Eka Pada Galavasanaflying pigeonHIPS AND EKA PADA GALAVASANA Depending on where we are in our asana practice journey, arm balances may feel a little overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to start. Instead of thinking about the final destination, we...

read more
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Hip Flexor Health for Better MovementstretchHIP FLEXOR HEALTH FOR BETTER MOVEMENT Healthy hip flexor muscles are associated with both stretch and strength. Although we’re going to focus more heavily on strength in this article, always note that both strength and...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe, You Will Get Instant Access to

  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
  • exclusive online course discounts
  • exclusive blogs and videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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