Thursday, August 15, 2013

Not Just Pumping Iron, Part Twenty-Four

Several layers of muscles support the pelvis, which are also involved in forced exhalation; they connect between the ischium (sit bones), the pubic bone, and the coccyx (tailbone). These muscles are the pelvic floor muscles. Visualize a diamond shape—the sit bones along the side points of the diamond and the pubic and coccyx bones along the front and back points. During forced exhalation, the muscles that align and attach along the points of the diamond engage, pull together, and provide support for the position of the pelvis. This muscular contraction becomes more apparent while practicing the breathing plié exercise (page 48). Now, when practicing efficient breathing with plié, the upward phase of the plié coordinates the exhalation with engagement of the deep core and the pelvic floor . . . 

an excerpt from "Dance Anatomy"
by Jacqui Greene Haas

Explore how to use imagery to improve your confidence, and youll discover imagery conditioning programs that will lead you toward better alignment, safer movement, increased fitness, and greater joy. Further, you'll examine how to apply this understanding to your discipline or training to improve your performance.

More on
Centering, Charging,
Grounding, Discharging

An interesting breathing situation exists when one is anxious. The anxious breathing pattern is a fast thoracic pattern, but in the absence of muscular exertion. Also, the inhalation is emphasized. The exhalation and the pause following the exhalation are de-emphasized, giving anxious breathing its characteristic shallow, rather gasping quality. 

To get a feel for the anxious breathing pattern, so as to recognize it and distinguish it from the natural costal breathing during exertion and the intentional costal breathing used to build a high energy charge, try the following. Take quick, small, gasping breaths high in your chest. Exhale only slightly, without pause before inhaling again. Emphasize the inhalation. Do this for half a minute or so and see how you feel. Having just done this myself, I feel short of breath, my heart is pounding, and I feel uneasy. In a word, I feel anxious.

So as not to remain anxious, and to show how efficient and effective intentional slow, full abdominal breathing can be in getting centered, use this pattern of diaphragmatic breathing for a couple of minutes.

Relatively speaking, regardless of the pattern of breathing, be it costal or diaphragmatic, the inhalation is the charging phase of the breath cycle, while the exhalation is the discharging phase. That is, as I inhale, I take in the oxygen-laden air to support my metabolism. And, as I do so, my muscles tense for action, again, relative to the phase of exhalation. As I exhale, I let out and let go. In the context of thoracic breathing during exertion, the letting go is forceful. I blow the air out of my lungs, and exert a muscular effort. The exhalation phase of thoracic breathing gives support for maximal muscular exertion. If I am doing thoracic breathing to build an energy charge, I make no muscular exertion as I forcefully exhale. By charging with each inhalation, but not discharging through muscular exertion, I build and build the energy charge either until I am ready to discharge through muscular exertion or else I become overcharged. In the context of abdominal breathing, my letting go means the relaxing of muscular tonus, rather than muscular exertion. Recall, that in the previous chapter when I gave directions for savasana (corpse pose), I repeated several times - Each time you exhale you can relax a little more. Each increment of relaxation is realized on the exhalation. And, with each exhalation the discharge equals or exceeds the charge. Thus, greater and greater relaxation is achieved.

So, inhalation is charging (low charge in the case of diaphragmatic breathing, high charge in the case of costal breathing). And, exhalation is discharging (muscular relaxation in the case of diaphragmatic breathing, muscular action in the case of costal breathing during exertion). When charging with intentional, forced costal breathing, the discharge accompanying the exhalation is far less than the charge accompanying each inhalation, and thus the build up of a high energy charge. [Did Joseph Curtis Hise look into much of this, and experiment to find what resulted? We can't know with much certainty, and that's truly a shame. History unrecorded is a history soon unknown.]

As was stated so beautifully in Zen in the Art of Archery, breathing in binds and combines, holding the breath makes everything go right, and breathing out loosens and completes by overcoming all limitation.

It behooves the lifter to understand well the bio-energetics of breathing. By knowing this, he is better able to center himself, and build a high energy charge intentionally, in preparation for a hard set, a limit lift, or a demanding posing routine. 
An understanding of the above material makes it clear that the organism's healthy bio-energetic process is a dynamic one, constantly flowing between periods of quiet relaxation and muscular exertion, as intentionally influenced by periods of charging and centering. When relaxed, one can charge, in preparation for muscular exertion. When left with an excess charge after muscular exertion (overcharged), one can move toward relaxation by means of centering, and do forth.
On anxiety, and 
Optimal arousal levels.  


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