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breath and stretch

earthdancer2010-07-04 15:04:20 +0000 #1

im new to this site and would like to know if the stretching of muscles should occur with inhalation or exhalation?
siva2010-07-04 15:10:09 +0000 #2


Although you might think of it as first lengthening with inhalation and then stretching with exhalation. For example, if you're doing a standing or sitting forward bend, inhale reaching arms overhead and making yourself as long as possible, then exhale as you bend (from the hips) down towards the floor.

This is of course a generalization. There are various ways of applying both inhalation and exhalation to "stretching."


InnerAthlete2010-07-04 15:26:53 +0000 #3
A question about stretching, muscle, and breathing might best be posed to an anatomist, kinesiologist, or physical therapist.

In general the breath in a yoga context a) depends on intention or purpose or effect and b) has very little, if anything, to do with stretching muscle tissue. The stretching of muscle tissue may (and often does) occur but the breath is not based upon it.

While there are exceptions, the basic yoga breathing is to exhale on the doing and inhale to relax. It may also be put that one inhales to create space, room, or length and exhales to lift/turn/bend etcetera. Again there are exceptions (Surya Namaskar, the Tibetan Rites, and certain backbends).

Why do you ask?
earthdancer2010-07-04 15:37:25 +0000 #4
I ask because its a question that has come up on a yoga teaching course im attending. Like yourselves I couldnt really come to a single pointed answer for this one,thats why I thought I'd see what would come out of putting the question up on this site. As far as i can gather with the information Ive gained from the course, any attempt at extending ones limit of comfortable physical movement by increasing the flexion of the spine or limbs should coincide with exhalation. This doesnt mean causing pain or damage to oneself but taking oneself to the edge that we can sometimes feel our way toward, and therefore deepening our practice. but as you have both replied, there are many ways that this could apply.
justwannabe2010-07-04 16:11:18 +0000 #5

Originally Posted by InnerAthlete

A question about stretching, muscle, and breathing might best be posed to an anatomist, kinesiologist, or physical therapist.

Why do you ask?

correct me if I am wrong but isnt our "modern" science still trying to catch up to the thousands of years old science of the yogis?

I am not sure why you like to give people the third degree so much on here for asking questions. most of the time it seems that to you questions are incomplete or should not have been asked at all. This is a place for discussion.

stirring the pot

justwannabe2010-07-04 15:26:05 +0000 #6
earthdancer, you can also hold a pose and the place that you feel the post you can breath in and out of that place in your body. Example, if during a stretch you feel the muscle/area slightly straining on the inside of the right hip, you can feel as if you are breathing in and out of the right hip, this may help to relax even further

just thoughts

Pandara2010-07-04 16:22:04 +0000 #7
Hi Earthdancer,

If you search the word "breath" here you will get more results here on this forum, I did it and if you delf deeper into the older posts, there are some insightful replies about breathing.

Neil, I see you spoon is not big enough, let's see how big a spoon you need to stir IA.

Good luck with the search.
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 16:39:53 +0000 #8
The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it.

George Bernard Shaw
Steve Hydonus2010-07-04 16:21:35 +0000 #9
In Hatha yoga when you exhale you expand the body. When you inhale you contract the body. However meditation requires that all movement comes to a stand still. Ofcourse there are degrees to this and experience will show that stillness lends itself to peace and bliss: Stillness of body and mind.

Steve Hydonus
earthdancer2010-07-04 18:39:40 +0000 #10
mmmm.... all interesting stuff to a newbie. Thanks for all your help,however I think Steve seems to have come up with pretty much the most straight forward answer I was hoping to have and seems to be thinking along the same lines as myself on this one. But I will definately delf into the older posts on breath and see what other info I can retrieve. Thanks again
Nichole2010-07-04 18:08:00 +0000 #11

Originally Posted by earthdancer


im new to this site and would like to know if the stretching of muscles should occur with inhalation or exhalation?


I believe some of the issues you may be running into with the answers you have been offered so far is because of your question. Direct questions pull direct answers. Please help us out by being very specific in your question. So much is lost when we are typing rather than speaking with each other, so use examples if that would be useful. And while Steve's answer is direct and terse, with respect, I am not in agreement that Hatha Yoga presents exhale:expand and inhale:contract. I am also trying to think of any situation where this would be naturally occuring in the body and I cannot.

The truth of the body is that at all times, the body has skeletal muscles that are in a relaxed state and other muscles that are in a contracted state. If you are asking your question within the framework of vinyasa practice, many of your muscles will be moving into and out of contracted and relaxed states on both the inhalation and the exhalation. This is the nature of a flowing practice which links postures together with the breath.

If you are speaking of holding postures for a number of breaths, again the same: the agonist muscle in any given posture will be active while the antagonist muscle will be lengthening. The muscles can only work in partnership. There is no lengthening without a mutual contraction at the same time.

In Paschimottanasana for example--offered in the simplest of terms:

Working muscles: hip flexors, rectus remoris, shoulder flexors, spinal erectors

Lengthening: hamstrings, spinal erectors (if relaxing into pose), latissimus dorsi

This, and more, is all happening at the same moment in a single posture. You may see now how it is difficult to get to a single-pointed answer from your original question.

Can give us more in your question?

Kind regards,
earthdancer2010-07-04 18:16:08 +0000 #12
The question Ive raised here is, as Ive already mentioned , exactly the same question that has been put to me on a current Hatha yoga teaching course Im attending. The reason Ive brought it up on this site is because I also had trouble getting to grips with it. Its an exam question so I am unable to clarify it with the Yoga School. I thought that I may have been missing a point somewhere along the line, but from the replies Ive received on this site it seems Ive had fair reason to question the question if you know what I mean .So im sorry Nichole I cant be any clearer. Im just going to have to go along with an instinctual answer and it does seem to be along the lines of what Steve was suggesting, unless you can come up with any other suggestions



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