Advanced Basics Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 4

Tame the Ribs

30 min - Practice


When our ribs are in the right place, we can find more lift in the spine and more space in our poses. In this class, we focus our attention on finding and maintaining the correct placement of our ribs through various familiar seated, standing, and inverted postures. You will feel aligned and balanced.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hello and welcome back. Great to have you here on the mat with me. For today's lesson, we're going to shift gears and start to work with the rib cage and do something I call taming the ribs. That means we're going to shift focus from the lower abdomen and move it towards the upper abdomen. We're going to start in the cross legs position and I'm going to turn to the side so you get a really good view of the ideas we're going to be talking about today. Take your hands behind you on the floor and use your arms to push straight down through the floor and see what happens to the spine. Let it go again and let's try. Press the hands and feel how that creates an arch in the back. Typically that arch is most pronounced right in the middle of the back and that corresponds to the lower front ribs. It creates what I call rib thrusting in a pose. Pinches the back and over opens the front. So instead we're going to try a different action with the arms and that is to push backward away from the hips to focus more on the top chest, the upper chest. Let's try it together. Push the hands away from the hips so you feel the shoulder blades coming a little together and the top chest moving faster than the bottom ribs. Release. Let's try it again. Hands pushing away from you to get a little bit of a shoulder blade squeeze and the top chest becoming more pronounced in the movement forward. Those are the two things we're going to be working with today and we'll try that in various poses. Let's start in a hands and knees position and go for familiar move cat and cow. Push down through the arms and legs and make the spine round up towards the ceiling and then the opposite let the spine sway down and we get kind of a similar experience of the front ribs here and that's okay. We're just moving around to feel ribs up spine up ribs down relax the spine. Then set your spine as close to neutral as you can. It's okay if it's a little up or down. Holding that position front ribs gently tucked up and into the body not to create an arch but just a level chest. We're going to take the right hand across and hold the opposite side of the body. We're asking the core to do the work of holding the ribs in place. Right hand down level the front of the body so there's no sway or arch and we'll take the left hand across. Hold there feel the support of the abdominals on the side in front of the body and the left hand back down. Let's add to it knees a little narrower level the front of your body so there's no sway or arch take the right hand across and the left leg rolling out to straight and lift it just an inch off the floor. The idea is you don't lift it so high that you lose your connection to the front of the body just high enough to add a little extra challenge to the abdominal muscles and then set down the arm and leg. We'll do the other side level the front of the body left arm across and then keeping the front of the body level will sneak out the right leg and lift it about an inch. Only so high as does not push the ribs toward the floor and then release. We'll take a brief sit on the shins or cross-legged if the if the knees don't appreciate this particular posture. Interlace the fingers push the palms out and if that doesn't work for your wrists you can just turn the palms this way. Otherwise press the palms out and take the arms up and notice if you tend to thrust out the ribs which I'm doing here right now. So we have to tame the ribs a little bit draw them back in the body and that makes the shoulders do quite a bit more work but there's so much more interlift in the body when we do like this and then release and relax. The next pose we'll take again on all fours we'll call it a kneeling plank. For this pose let the hips fall a little forward so we make a straight line from knees up to shoulders. Hands all right next to each other is fine for a position. Again level the ribs so we're not thrusting out of the lower ribs. Right arm forward challenging position to keep the ribs in place. Right arm down level the front of the chest and abdomen and again left arm you have to push down through the arm to connect to that abdominal support. One more on each side right arm slowly forward and then switch to left hand holding there ribs in check nice and tame and then release. Once again we'll take either sitting on the shins or cross legs. For this one take the hands behind your back. We're going to bow forward either if you're sitting in cross legs or the position I'm in now on the shins and try to take up the arms.

And then slowly out and if that was really tough for your shoulders to do next round when you try this you can try with a belt and that gives more space for the shoulders. Our next pose to challenge the ribs is going to be puppy pose. We'll come on to hands and knees again keeping the hips above the knees walk your hands out and the tendency in this pose and I'm going to do it right now is to let the ribs sway right out of the body to thrust out. We're going to tame the ribs drawing the ribs back in and allow the head to go down. I'm going to add one new element here and that is to say that the ribs should feel like they move toward the belly button. See if you can find that feeling that the ribs are moving up and a little toward the belly button. If it's available to you rest your head on the floor and then walk the hands back and we'll come up to a full downward facing dog. Now let's take all of that into dog pose starting here ribs up get a sense that you might even be able to pull them a little bit toward the belly button tuck your toes and let's come up into a full dog pose. Great opportunity here to pedal out the legs to open up the hips stretch out the leg muscles the calves the ankles and while you do that leg pedaling can you keep the awareness on the position of the ribs that they're not here they go I'm going to thrust out and then I bring them back in and tame the ribs. Let the heels press down into your mat arm bones and shoulder bones lifting we've talked about that in a few of the previous lessons and we're going to work on that here again. And then come down to the knees take a brief rest and then we'll add a little extra challenge to the dog pose and see if you can stay connected right here. Once again dog pose curl under the toes lift the knees arms and shoulders lifting as you take the ribs gently up and toward the belly button then bring the legs the feet together and then maintain what you're doing in the ribs as you raise your right leg straight up in line with the torso you don't need to go higher or there's a big tendency to want to pop the ribs out right leg down and left leg up ribs gently held in check moving slightly towards the belly button towards the hips and then touch down let's take a brief child's pose to rest and recover then we'll come back up to all fours and add one more challenge I know you can do it we're going to start by tucking under the toes and this time come down to the forearms this is known as dolphin pose bring the legs a little closer together and raise the knees we'll keep the shoulders just over the tops of the elbows legs strong and straight with heels well lifted here again that tendency and I tend to be a rib thruster so I've got to really watch myself here and roll those ribs up towards the belly button to keep them in check holding the ribs in place right leg up let your head hang down that really helps to tame the ribs to let the head down right leg down left leg up you have to press the elbows into the floor to really get the connection through the ribs up to the hips and then touch back down another child's pose to rest and recover and then let's come up to all fours we'll take a brief downward dog and work our way up to standing see if you find a little bit more connection to the rib action we've been working on just as a reminder it's gently ribs into the body and then toward in a line towards the belly button and then let's walk forward to the front of the mat to find tadasana all right let's see how we do the rib work here try for a moment just go ahead and let it happen thrust out the ribs and feel what that's like how they press forward into the shirt and then tame the ribs bring them back to create that one line through the body now this work in combination with the pelvic work we did before creates again that flow of energy into the floor which gives us the lift in the poses like we did on the floor we're going to interlace the fingers push the palms out or palms together if your wrists don't like that and take up the arms go slow with me so you can feel that as the arms are lifting there's a little check here against the ribs and as i mentioned before if the ribs stay in place it makes the shoulders here they go really do the work when the shoulders do the work they pull the body up to the stars way up up and then come down and rest i'm going to turn to the front so you can see tree pose with me let's start with the left leg and if you happen to have shorts on it's great because you can stick the foot to your thigh i'm going to take up the left leg as high as you can and create some balance there it is from the previous lessons we've done let's just do a little gentle pelvic tuck very little gentle pelvic tuck and the ribs in check and holding those positions we'll take the arms up oh i can do it there we go you can do it stretch the arms up and away from the strength that you're creating with the ribs and hips and then release and then to give you a side view to see what it's like as i hold the ribs in place we'll take up the right leg and again try to stick that foot as high as you can against the inner left leg my first move will be a gentle tuck of the pelvis that helps me lift all of the organs i keep the ribs in check and now the pose runs through one line and then release the arms release the leg let's try this work in chair pose to start bend the knees just a little bit hands on the thighs once again we're going to use a little bit from a previous lesson just a gentle pelvic tuck rolling the waistband backward and now the ribs gently in from that position we'll stretch the arms up and here is a big challenge because the back says i'll lift you shoulders but we end up here so that means we have to build the strength in the shoulders to be able to hold the position of the ribs and truly lift when you hit this all correctly what you'll feel is from right underneath your bottom all the way through the front through the organs to the top of the head there is a tremendous lift of the inner body and then release the arms and relax i'm going to step out wide here and work this into some standing poses to start turn the left leg way in and the right leg all the way out parsvottanasana a forward bend tip forward about halfway into your pose and already i can feel my ribs wanting to take over wanting to lead the way to the floor so i'm going to tuck in and then come down you could place your hands on shin if you have blocks nearby you can put them on the blocks or even to the floor to take it one step deeper into the pose to fold the body down gently draw the ribs up away from your t-shirt and toward the pelvis just like down dog so rather than reaching reaching reaching reaching and try to go further actually hold yourself back just a tiny bit and then we create this shape the front of the body is contracted the back of the body can now expand breath can move into the ribs breath can move into your lower back and release those tight tired muscles then look forward our next pose we're going to challenge it in a balance by bending the front knee stretch the arms forward ribs in check and a bent knee warrior three three can you hold those ribs in check as you lift your arms and work toward a parallel position hands down foot down come up and we'll change sides we'll start with the right leg turn it deeply in left leg out to the side we'll start here by tipping about halfway forward gently draw the ribs in bring them home gentle little pelvic tuck nothing crazy just a little bit with the waistband back and then find your position shin blocks or floor then i take an easy breath in with the ribs in check i'm actually going to contract the front body just a little bit and you'll see the shape come in my back that little roundedness some folks have the flexibility to just fall straight over the leg and others you know they may be here so you have to find your balance and where that work is for you that just right amount of work but the idea is we want to elongate these muscles of the back and create a little contraction in the front then we'll try the balancing pose by bending the front leg rolling up the back heel we'll set the arms tame the ribs bring the body weight over the left leg as you begin to lift your right and hunt for that balanced parallel position and then touch down the arms touch down the leg and then come all the way up to standing let's hold in tadasana shake out the legs a minute let your breath come down gently draw the ribs in just very gently so that your back body has some room to breathe and then let's flow back through downward dog to begin raise the arms ribs are gently tamed and we feel the whole body upward stretch folding forward you could bend your knees or you can keep them straight and we work this pose uttanasana the same way we worked the forward bend a moment ago with a little contraction ribs towards pelvis hands to the floor plank pose as the ribs lift toward the back of your shirt you feel the abdominal supporting use that support to come halfway to the floor chaturanga and then we're going to go back to the back of the back of the back of the back of the back of the body use that support to come halfway to the floor chaturanga upward dog we'll try to keep the thighs off the floor and again in this pose the ribs tend to pop right forward we're going to hold them gently back so that we can lift the spine up all of the spine back come over the toes to a down dog as before shoulders up ribs moving gently towards the belly button then coming down to the knees to take a little rest and find our next pose which is going to be a twist i'm going to turn to face you to see how this pose also has an element of rib taming it's called barad bhajasana where we take the legs just swept off to the side and we're going to turn off to the right start by rotating the trunk over to the right side and you can see for me it's inherent for me to just want to push the ribs out so i have to call them back home by calling them back home you might feel as you practice that that your left hip begins to settle down and we want that we want that hip to be down then i begin my turn with a little resistance here in my right rib cage and from the previous lessons we can add ever so slightly not much just a little tip back and you start to feel the whole circumference of your torso contributing to the twist and then release we'll switch the legs the other side legs swept off to the right and i like to just tuck my right ankle into my left instep turning around to the left side i'll keep things in check tame the ribs right buttock sinking down a very gentle tip of the waistband backwards backwards is back there behind me knee and then i begin the twist a few breaths from the low abdomen exhaling to the top lifting the organs and then come to center turn yourself again along your mat and we're going to practice a little bit of a back bend here keeping the same ideas in mind this is what i call tabletop pose find a hand position that works for your wrists any of these that i'm showing here work just fine i'm going to go with this position because it's a little easier to work with the ribs i find anyway starting here push into the floor just like we did in the beginning and you may notice again there's that tendency to push the ribs forward we're going to keep them calm and quiet then press all fours into the floor both feet both hands and lift up here let the front ribs be a little quiet and instead lift the front of your chest the top of your chest you can look at the ceiling hold there come down take a little rest if you need to shake out the hands give the wrists a little break we'll try that one more time same exact pose hands in a position that you like quietening the ribs a little and as you go up keep your mind there long straight arms as we lift push the floor to bring the top of your chest near the collarbones toward the ceiling more than the lower ribs come down and rest let's add a little bit more to it in what we call purvatanasana same position with the hands but this time long straight legs all right straight arms to begin keep the ribs in check press the heels press the hands stretch your toes towards your mat and lift up it's really common try to find strength i'm going to do it now by pushing up your lower ribs but we're going to keep that in check and instead press the hands use your hamstrings and bring the top chest towards the ceiling and then come down relax the legs roll out the wrists give them a little rest nice work our next pose is going to be lying down on the mat with knees bent take a moment here on the mat to relax your arms wherever they feel comfortable let your breathing rate come down just a little bit and then we'll move into the next pose by bringing the knees toward the chest wrap your hands around your shins and gently pull your knees toward your chest as you're pulling your knees into your chest i want you to notice how your bottom is rolling up off the mat i want that to happen we can add a little bit more energy to this by using the abdominals to further pull the hips off the floor a couple more take your hands behind the knee joints like i'm doing here and add a little bit more to it abdominals strength of the arms starting to rock you farther and farther and you can stick with this action that we're doing or you can place the hands on the floor or even grab your mat for support and we're going to try to take the legs a little over the top of the head this happens because we're able to pull the ribs in and roll the spine try a few times with me strong arms abdominals are curling the hips up and then the ribs pressing into the floor that's what really helps this action come on one more time press the hands curl the hips press the ribs and if you feel you can stay there please do as long as you're comfortable there should be no pressure on your neck it's all resting on the shoulder blades and then slowly lower down touch the feet to the floor that's a fun pose to work on it can take some time to build up the strength the mobility in the spine to bring the legs up and over and we'll just keep practicing on that and take it day by day let your legs sway a little left and right relaxing the abdomen letting go of the rib focus and then come to center and we'll do a bridge pose to take things the other direction start with a gentle press of the waistband into your yoga mat soften the ribs down a little bit sometimes there's a tendency to grip the ribs when we come up instead we're going to soften the ribs down and lift the hips hold on to the sides of the mat a little bit and tuck your shoulders helps you get a good grip of the shoulders and we're lifting up we're going to take this bridge a little bit higher and you might notice to come higher we tend to push the ribs out into the shirt again rib thrusting instead tame your ribs a little back away from your shirt press down on the arms and use your shins press your shins a little bit toward the head to bring the body up higher as we did earlier we're going to create that cycle of energy we press the shins tuck the waistband back a little quiet in the ribs and then the lift from the back of the body towards the back of the knees and down to the heels you can take it up as high as you like and then gently release take the hips to the floor untuck the shoulders and rock your legs back and forth and then we're going to head into shavasana now to start and place your hands on your lower ribs lift your head gently and try to stretch the back of your body the back of your chest a little towards the head so it's elongated sometimes it gets stuck and pulled under towards the hips that should quieten the ribs down a little bit and make more contact with your back into the floor set your arms out out walk the legs out almost all the way almost still a little bend in the knees and gently gently push the heels into the mat and slide them away and you'll feel that that lets the pelvis gently rock back and to soften the abdomen down down slowly softly let the energy come out of the legs so that they fall to the sides until all the energy of the legs has become quiet soften the arms soften the hands soften the throat and close your eyes and it took me a little while to realize that i have a tendency to want to press my ribs up away from the floor my lower ribs check and see if you have that tendency too and do your best to make that become quiet let the back muscles soft and shavasana you want to give your body up to the floor and let your nervous system become as quiet as possible and that's what eventually leads to the quietening of the thinking and the experience of that quietness within you and if you'd like to stay longer in your pose enjoy that quietness and softness of the body please stay as long as you like and if you're ready to come up wiggle your hands and toes bend your knees and turn softly onto your right side support your head with your hands and then use your hands to gently push up to sitting and that was fun i hope you found some new ideas for your practice if you have any questions or thoughts you want to share in the comments i'd love to hear them and i really look forward to seeing you in the next practice have an amazing day


Elizabeth H
hi, Nathan how are you doing? thanks so much for this new series. I am still practicing your thirty day series and I have this one so beneficial as well. taming the ribs really helped me. peace Eliza

Nathan Briner
Hey Elizabeth H! Good to hear from you. Great to hear you’re still enjoying the 30 day challenge 💪
I’m curious what changes you’ve discovered with the rib taming concept? 
Sandra Židan
Nice practice! Thanks, Nathan! 🌼🌞💛
Nathan Briner
Awesome Sandra Židan! Thank you 🙏 
2 people like this.
fascinating stuff. rib awareness really does change the experience of the whole - i can see i was kind of 'cheating' before at the expense of a more unified, grounded experience. terrific - many thanks. :)
Nathan Briner
Matthew, the unified, grounded experience is exactly what I was hoping to bring forward in this session. Head to toe connection. Stoked you were able to feel it!! 
Kate M
1 person likes this.
Balancing the structural energies to allow for the free flow of energy within and without the structure! (If that makes sense!!)
Nathan Briner
Kate M, that’s is exactly it! With that free flowing energy, awareness is no longer “stuck” in areas that are over stretched or unsupported or not participating in the pose. Now awareness can reach out to feel all the parts of the body and make the adjustments that will free up the flow of energy :) It’s a beautiful circle! 
1 person likes this.
Wow! It was just amazing. Throughout the practice I felt all the energy clrculating easily. I felt like I am using more energy while practicing this way but at the end I was really energetic and felt light.
Eric M
1 person likes this.
That felt… transformative. Thank you Nathan Briner for this series - I think it’s your best yet.
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