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 Post subject: Breathing and stabilizing midsection.
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 2:48 pm 
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Location: Eriksbråten, Skotterud
Breathing is necessary for living. It is so essential that we forget that we are doing it. Many times each and every minute of the day and the night, we fill our lungs with air and let it out again. The extraordinary thing with this, is that in order to move efficiently, we also have to stabilize our midsections. Athletic movement requires that we are able to fill our lungs and empty them without making our body more wobbly. And without making ourselves stiff. The goal is to breathe in such a way that our bodies become elastic, strong and balanced, so that we can move in a relaxed and athletic way.

The way to get there is NOT to start to relax. Not unless you have no problem breathing correctly in the first place. Let us have a look at a picture of me. I use these pictures all the time, because they illustrate many problems in a body. The first picture is taken while I was completely relaxed:

Image

The blue colour indicates the position of the diaphragm. That is the big muscle inside our belly that is supposed to do the breathing work for us. To push downwards when we inhale and relax upwards when we exhale. When the body relaxes is such a way as this, the diaphragm is not able to function the way it is created to work. The movement downwards is inhibited and the lower belly is poked outwards. Since the breathing becomes shallow and short, the neck muscles and all muscles around the neck will try to help out in the breathing process, but they are not constructed for it, and will become strained and eventually painful. The chest movement while breathing is mostly consentrated in the direction of the orange arrow.

In addition, this body is not balanced and will not be able to stabilize. Shallow, ineffient breathing and bad fuctionality? I think we must try for something better.


Image

This posture is much more functional, stable and balanced. In addition, it is possible to breathe correctly. The diaphragm is positioned in such a way that is can move directly downwards into the lower belly. This is what we refer to as "breathing" with the belly. The belly obviously cannot breathe, but its contents will be pressed downwards and out i all directions. If the body is held stable by the united efforts of all muscles in the torso and pelvis, you will feel like the body is swelling both in the abdomen and the back. This feels as if you are suddenly able to breathe more deeply and take in a larger amount of air each time.

To stand like this and especially move like this, is very difficult, tiring and requires a lot of muscle and coordination effort is one is not used to it. It is not possible to relax one's way into the correct posture and movement if one has lost it. If one is correctly trained, though, a position like this feels comfortable, balanced and relaxed.

It is easy to be in balance, but very hard to become balanced. This work will require mobility training as well as strengthening of the muscles that have been too lazy to keep up the posture. The muscles that are too stiff will hold the body down in the wrong posture. The combination of the two, plus the habit of the nervous system that controls the whole thing is what we must struggle against.

The same applies to the horse. Often when we train, and the horse aligns its midsection correctly, it will take a deep breath and let out the air powerfully, making a snort or even a cough in the beginning. This means that the horse's midsection and back is able to carry, and at the same time breathe deeply. We see it as a sign that the horse has changed its posture into something that can carry the rider in a more healthy way.

The topline can be tightened from behind or from the front at first. Both ways will provide the snorting response and better and deeper breathing. Let's look at some examples.

Image
This horse's topline and midsection is "broken" and the breathing will be shallow. The horse is not able to stabilize unless a rider helps stabilizing its midsection.

Image
The same horse in a "long-and-low" form, stabilizing the midsection and the breathing from the front. As we can see, the horse is actually snorting in the picture, taking some deep breaths. Here, the hindquarters are not yet correctly under the horse, but the breathing has started to become better.

Image
Here Pelle and Hugo is starting to stabilize the midsection by starting behind. The diaphragm is aligned OK, but the horse is still crooked and the breathing is not quite right yet. He is over the bit, and the withers are too low.

Image
Here the back and midsection is correct, and thus the horse has become straighter and more balanced. The forehand is also more correct because of this. The horse has snorted and is breathing into its belly.

Image
Here the diaphragm is obviously right, and the horse can stabilize while he is breathing powerfully into the belly.

_________________
Paradox is a pointer telling you to look beyond it. If paradoxes bother you, that betrays your deep desire for absolutes. The relativist treats a paradox merely as interesting, perhaps amusing or even, dreadful thought, educational.

Frank Herbert.


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