Appreciating your classes and your instructions. I am wondering about tightening the muscles in the belly area; should it become part of our natural behavior on exhaling during asana or even all the time; should we let our bellies expand during inhalations or it all depends on the asana?
Christel B Hi Christel, Great questions! When we do abdominal work, we emphasize firming the belly in as we exhale....so a much more deliberate action. "Tightening" to me, reminds me of tension, so I try to avoid that verb. The diaphragm (a thin dome shaped muscle that sits right below the heart and lungs, the main muscle of respiration) contracts on the inhalation to allow for the lungs to expand. As the diaphragm contracts, it puts pressure on the abdominal organs and that is why the belly expands. So really, for a full breath in, we should not be firming our belly in. However, there are poses, where we have to firm the belly in and it is helpful to emphasize breathing in to the side ribs and the back ribs....like plank pose...anytime we need to stabilize our trunk. There is much more to this, but this is all interesting to explore in your own body. Namaste, Birgitte