Thoracic breathing utilizes the middle lobes of the lungs by expanding and contracting the ribcage. It expends more energy than abdominal breathing for the same quantity of air exchange. It is often associated with physical exercise and exertion, as well as stress and tension; when combined with abdominal breathing, it helps the body to obtain more oxygen. However, the tendency in many people is to continue this type of breathing instead of abdominal breathing long after the stressful situation has passed, creating bad breathing habits and continued tension.
How to do thoracic breathing
- Sit in a meditation posture or lie in shavasana and relax the whole body.
- Maintain unbroken awareness of the natural breath for some time, concentrating on the sides of the chest. Discontinue any further use of the diaphragm and begin to inhale by slowly expanding the rib cage.
- Feel the movement of the individual ribs outward and upward, and be aware of this expansion drawing air into the lungs.
- Expand the chest as much as possible.
- Exhale by relaxing the chest muscles. Feel the ribcage contracting and forcing the air out of the lungs.
- Breathe slowly and deeply through the chest with total awareness. Do not use the diaphragm.
- Continue thoracic breathing for a few minutes, pausing slightly after each inhalation and exhalation.
- Relax any effort and once again watch the spontaneous breathing pattern.
- Bring the awareness back to observing the physical body as a whole. Be aware of the surroundings and gently open the eyes.
Preparatory Practice for PranayamaThoracic Breathing is a preparatory practice in Pranayama. It is among the 5 preparatory practices.
- Natural breathing
- Abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing
- Thoracic breathing
- Clavicular breathing
- Yogic breathing
Types of Pranayamas
- Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Psychic network purification)
- Sheetali Pranayama (Cooling breath)
- Sheetkari Pranayama (Hissing breath)
- Bhramari Pranayama (Humming bee breath)
- Ujjayi Pranayama (The psychic breath)
- Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows breath)
- Kapalbhati Pranayama (Frontal brain cleansing breath)
- Moorchha Pranayama (Swooning or fainting breath)
- Surya Bhedi Pranayama (Vitality stimulating breath)