I've Been Breathing Wrong by Heidi Shaner

Heidi Shaner is a senior level instructor at Posture Studio. A group exercise instructor since 1997 and a personal athletic trainer since 2008, Heidi has been studying at Posture Studio for over two years and recently took the Stott Pilates Comprehensive Reformer training. Heidi’s natural gift for working with people is complimented by her knack for postural analysis and movement retraining. Heidi wrote this blog in 2016 when she started an apprenticeship at Posture Studio. You can read more about Heidi’s life coaching business or check out her blog at www.heidishaner.com Enjoy!

You think it's hard to change the way you think? Try changing the way you BREATHE! Or stand, or sit, or walk, or move. I've recently been apprenticing under a posture MASTER. You know how when you watch a master musician play their instrument and it looks like they're channeling some kind of cosmic energy? It's like that when I watch my mentor teach. You see, I love being a perpetual student. When I'm with her, I feel like a sponge and I soak up all her amazing knowledge that she's sharing with me. There's always a next level of knowledge and learning keeps us vibrant and growing all the time.

Anyway, I'm incredibly grateful that this woman has taken me under her wing and here's what I know so far. Every thing I've been conditioned to do physically with my group exercise and personal training certifications is OPPOSITE of what she's teaching me now. Can you imagine how hard it is to rewire the things you don't EVER think about?? I'm type A and if I put my mind to something, I can achieve it and this is seriously killing me. I am trying so hard to get the concepts and I do, in my head, but my body isn't cooperating. And this whole thing is reminding me that the work I do to train people is uber important and that REPETITION is the MOTHER of SKILL. I seriously love this quote. So back to my story.

I learned that I pop out my front ribs all the time. That's because I used to have slumped shoulders and my head was forward and I was taught in chiropractic care and through my trainings to pull my shoulders back. And so I did....way too much. I basically straightened out the curve in my upper back. Do you know what neutral means when it comes to your body's alignment? Our spinal cord has natural curves in them- in our neck, our upper back, and our lower back and it's made that way to support our skeletal system against the force of gravity. When your head is too far forward, your upper back will go too far back, and your low back will go too far forward, to maintain balance and to offset the load. Our bodies always find a way to compensate. But then you'll experience pain from the strain of being so far off neutral. Anyway, I digress. I realized that I overcompensated and basically collapsed my shoulder girdle. Fine. So I start sinking my chest a bit and lifting my shoulders and actually rounding my upper back a bit. It feels so very strange but in a photo, looks completely aligned. MINDBLOWN! And that's only the beginning.

I also learned that I wasn't exhaling completely. Again, what?? I inhale into my chest and don't let all the air out. Who does that?? So I start practicing breathing into the side and back of my ribs. Who knew? I think about expanding my back ribs as I inhale. And these are only a couple of the tweeks that I've been making.

Did you know that your diaphragm actually contracts when you inhale and your abs relax and then when you exhale, your diaphragm relaxes and your abs contract. Speaking of which, did you know that true ab strength involves bringing your abs in toward your center and UP toward your ribs when you exhale? Who ever heard of pulling your abs up? I learned that neutral posture requires strength. I never realized this before. To stand, sit, walk, breathe, lay down in neutral requires STRENGTH.

All of this is just to say that we truly can rewire ourselves literally from a cellular level. My life's mission is to help people rewire themselves holistically for a higher quality of life- mind, body, and soul. It's not just about the thoughts you think, your behavior patterns, and emotions. It's also about how you BREATHE. It's never too late. You need a mentor or some masterful guidance. You need willingness and desire. You need to bring your unconscious into your consciousness. You need to take deliberate action over and over and over again until you get it into your physiology.

One thing that helps condition your new ways is creating images that are powerful and meaningful for you. With all this focus on breathing, I thought about expanding and strengthening my back. I thought about moving my back ribs as I inhale. I thought about broadening my shoulders and attaching strong muscles to my ribs. I thought about letting my chest down a bit. And it hit me. Strength doesn't come from posturing. It comes from standing with strength. The strength is in my back, not my front. So I connected an image with these thoughts: a falcon with a beautiful huge wing span flying high in the sky, so graceful and strong. So there you have it. I am always at your service with love.