This was originally written by Laura Indrane on her Instagram account: @muscles_and_motion

Quiet breathing is breathing at rest. Inspiration is driven by the diaphragm and, to a lesser extent, the intercostal muscles. Expiration is a passive process.

Active breathing is breathing during physical activities and the intensity of the breathing depends on the intensity of the activity. Active breathing involves almost all muscles connected to the ribcage. Imagine a runner who has suddenly stopped, you can see them panting and their ribcage is visibly moving.

So what's the deal with breathing?

People may change their breathing pattern after lung infections, colds, injuries or just by trying to pull the belly button in for better posture/core activation/looking better, etc.

This may lead to using more muscles for breathing than is necessary, especially the upper traps, levator scapulae, scalenes and pectoralis minor. All of these muscles are commonly tight in people who experience a stiff neck. This makes perfect sense when you realise that all of these muscles are working overtime.

Here are a couple of breathing exercises to improve breathing patterns, lung ventilation and relax the accessory breathing muscles.

1️⃣ Breathing with the Diaphgram

Lie down on your back and place one hand on your chest and the other one on your stomach. Hands help to give feedback on whether or not your stomach or chest is moving.

Inhale through nose, lift the belly button but don't expand your ribcage. Exhale through mouth, let the belly button sink. This is also called stomach breathing, it ventilates the lower part your your lungs and activates the diaphragm. Repeat for 8-10 cycles.

2️⃣ Lateral Breathing

This style it is commonly used in Pilates and it emphasises breathing laterally - into the side of your ribcage and waist - using your intercostal muscles.

Sit or stand, place your hands on the sides of your ribcage. Inhale through nose, expand your ribs sideways, avoiding lifting your chest. Exhale through mouth, feel the ribs sink closer to your hips like someone was tightening a corset around you. Repeat for 8-10 cycles

Happy breathing!

Back in the heyday of my youth, when I first started studying pilates, it would be unheard of to find a pilates studio offering yoga and vice versa. As a student, you either practiced yoga OR pilates. Pilates and yoga were perceived as very different forms of movement, with very little cross over.

I was introduced to pilates through a physio who was treating me for moderate injuries after a car accident. Prior to the accident I had been taking yoga classes for 4 + years, having originally been introduced to it at university. After recovering enough to return to my yoga mat, what I noticed immediately was that my yoga practice felt so much better in my body. I felt like I owned my yoga practice, rather than it owning me. I felt grounded, I felt strong, I was more conscious of my movements, I moved more intentionally. My awareness of my body and the ability to focus breath by breath on my asana practice, grew exponentially. I felt more confident to create a practice that was suitable for my body, even in the space of a busy yoga class.

What I learned is how genuinely complementary these two disciplines are. Over time and many years of practice, weaving these two approached to movement together has given me a pilates practice that is more dynamic and playful and a yoga practice that is simpler, focused and grounded. At this stage of my practice, I can't differentiate between the two - the practices have become one; a beautiful blend of intentional movement.

My life informs my work so at the studio we offer our students both yoga AND pilates. In fact, we've even designed a class for it - aptly named, The Blend.

Why not throw in a bit of focused attention to axial elongation in your Virabhadrasana series? • Notice how good it feels to gently soften the front of your lower ribs toward your belly in Crescent Lunge. • When you stand tall in Tadasana, draw your pubic bone slightly toward your naval, breathe into the back and sides of your ribcage and broaden across your collarbones. • In your bridge pose, reach your kneecaps forward and imagine pulling your heels toward your shoulders, livening up the back line of your body.

I mean we could go on and on. At this stage we don’t even know where yoga ends and pilates begins, we just know that they work damn well together. Whatever you do, enjoy your practice, breathe fully, smile and shine on!

There’s a saying that life is truly lived outside our comfort zone. I'm sure the folks who coined this saying had the big things in mind. Afraid of heights? Face your fear and leap out of a plane. Have a dream of becoming a chef at 55? Reinvent yourself and go back to school. Unhappy in your marriage? Find freedom in solitude.

As a new mum, it doesn’t take the big moves to get me out of my perceived comfort zone. Even though it feels like I was born to be a mum, simply becoming a mother has forced me to venture outside this realm daily. My comfort zone is 8+ hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Oh well. My comfort zone is also finding time to practice mindful movement every day. Yeah, right! I’m also quite comfortable being able to head out of the house on a moment's notice, allowing spontaneity to take me. Never. Going. To. Happen. Again. I like to have control of my days and how they unfold. Ha, now that’s funny. If there is an issue, a problem, a hurdle, I love finding the solution, a tangible way forward. Motherhood doesn’t always work that way.

I’m realising how uncomfortable it is to sit with my baby girl as she goes through a plethora of feelings and experiences that I can’t do much about. Teething for example. My daughter is in the throws of it right now and it is intense, for both of us, at times. I can see and feel how much discomfort she is experiencing. Aside from pulling out all the tools to soothe her pain, even for just a moment, the reality is she has to go through this discomfort. The teeth must come through.

Not being able to fix the pain, to make it go away, is very uncomfortable for me. Yet, when I stop trying to fix it and simply be in the moment with my daughter, allowing her to fully express what she is feeling, something miraculous happens. I relax, she settles down (yep, in that order) and the moment is ours. The moment no longer belongs to pain and struggle, powerlessness and frustration. The moment belongs to her and I. Rather than trying to find a solution or a way through this experience, I can just hold her and let her know that I am here. That letting go becomes our way through.

The letting go is uncomfortable for me. Giving my daughter the space to feel and express without the tendency to jump in for the quick fix, or the temporary distraction, is uncomfortable for me. When I’m able to pause and allow the moment to be what it is - overwhelming, shitty, confusing, annoying - all of that dissolves and it’s no longer any of those things. It’s just a mum and her wee girl hanging out, moving a bit more gracefully and easily through the motions of this crazy, beautiful life.

What makes you uncomfortable and how are you going to get comfortable with that?

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