1. Abdominal Breathing
Probably everyone has heard about this one. You lay on your
back and inhale air into your stomach. Your belly will
rise on inhale and fall down on exhale. Breath evenly
and slowly. If you are unfamiliar with such breathing, monitor
yourself carefully, otherwise, you may not notice and switch to
raising your belly on exhale and sucking it in on inhale - the
typical chest breather way. This exercise is easy because
nothing prevents your diaphragm from pushing down into your stomach.
2. Breathing laying on your belly.
Lay down on your stomach, put your head on your hands
or a very flat pillow and inhale air into your stomach. It is not
hard to do correctly because your chest is pressed down to the
floor and it is hard to raise it. What will start rising and
falling with your breath is your buttocks and hips. Now the diaphragm
is pushing down into your stomach with each breath and
your stomach wall cannot rise because it is pressed to the floor,
internal pressure will lift your lower back and your buttocks.
This kind of breathing is more work for your diaphragm muscle
and therefore will strengthen it.
3. Breathing with the shoulders raised.
Lay on your stomach, put your hands along your body, your legs
together. The muscles in your legs must all be toned, especially your
buttocks. Then lift your head and shoulders from the floor by
muscular effort of your back not by pushing with your hands. Now
breathe into your belly. Much harder, isn't it? Your diaphragm muscle
has to push into your internal organs so hard it will lift your whole
upper body into the air. You will rise and fall with each breath. Rise
on inhale, fall on exhale. Do it evenly and slowly to really see the
effects. This is hard work for the diaphragm muscle. If you are
unfamiliar with such exercises start with 5-10 breaths, do 3 series. A more
advanced variant is raising your legs and shoulders
at the same time, like in the prone boat posture (Yoga).
It is very important to tone muscles in your legs
for this exercise, and buttocks in particular. That will
stabilize your pelvis and will help you avoid unnecessary pressure
in your lower back.
These exercises are preparation work for developing a
habit of correct breathing and training your diaphragm (same as you would train any
other muscle in your body). When you ride your abdominal muscles hold your
internal organs under pressure. Your diaphragm has to push into them and flare your
lower ribs to create room for the lungs to expand. If it is not strong
enough you will start breathing into your upper chest. Such shallow
breathing will create tension and anxiety. It also weakens connection between
the lower and upper body.
The next step in your training consists of the exercises for abdominal strength
. These exercises will further strengthen your diaphragm muscle.
Irina Yastrebova, Riding Instructor and