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How To Control The Breath

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Once you have mastered simple respiration, you are ready to begin to control the outgoing air.

After you have expanded the lower rib-cage for a deep breath, you must, in order to exhale, gradually pull the diaphragm and intercostal muscles inward. Now here is the difficulty: These muscles are lazy; they won't want to go in slowly so that the column of air may go out slowly and smoothly. These muscles are analogous to a coil spring on a screen door. After you pull out the coil it wants to snap back quickly. In the same way, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles want to let all the air out at once because it takes less effort. Therefore you must discipline them, and here is an exercise that will help you do it.

With neck and shoulders relaxed, expand centrally, place lips in a whistling position, blow out a little air, and hold; then blow out a little more air; oscillate the head to insure relaxation, then blow out again. Try to blow out a series of ten puffs, pausing for two long beats after each puff. Rest a few minutes and then repeat the exercise several times as you walk about the room swinging your arms easily.

When you are, as we say, "out of breath," your diaphragm will be in as far as you can pull it away from the lower ribs. Actually you never puff all the air out of the lungs. The diaphragm relaxes into a dome-like position, but you feel as if all the air had been expelled and the diaphragm had been pulled in.

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