Rib Breath (Bucket Handle)
This exercise benefits many parts of the body and is essential to many Pilates exercises. When incorporated in the Pilates abdominal strengthening exercises this breath pattern can prevent neck strain and spine compression. It will also invigorate and energize the body.
To do this exercise you will need a mat. Start by lying supine (on your back) with your knees bent and your feet planted in the ground. As you inhale, let the breath expand the base of your ribcage. Exhale let all of the air out feel the base of your ribcage narrow towards your spine. Inhale expand the ribs, and exhale narrow the ribs. Repeat for 8-10 breaths.
Things to think about:
This breath is often called the bucket handle breath, which is an image for the movement of the ribs. If you imagine the each rib is the handle on a bucket, on the inhale the bucket handle lifts and on the exhale the bucket handle moves back towards the bucket.
This exercise is also a great way to encourage length in the lumbar spine. As you exhale the diaphragm releases up into the ribcage like a hot air balloon. The diaphragm is fascially connected to the muscles that run along the front of the lumbar spine, and when you concentrate on exhaling completely the diaphragm will encourage length in these muscles.