Focus on ... Lungs!
We're all aware now of the covid-19 virus, and how it can affect respiratory health. But how aware are you of your lungs all the rest of the time?
Lungs don't have muscles. They are (put simply) airbags 'vacuumed' against the inside of the chest wall. Between the ribs there are 2 layers of intercostal muscles: one set spreads and lifts the rib cage, the other draws it down and in, as we breathe. Then there's the diaphragm, a 'sheet' that sits in a dome-shape when relaxed, up under the lower ribs. When we inhale it contracts and flattens, pushing the abdominal organs down; which is why, in relaxed breathing, your tummy swells forwards as you inhale, and drops back when you exhale.
If you are tense or angry or afraid, your tum and ribs may be affected by muscle tension to the point where the upper chest is what moves when you breathe. This isn't just inefficient, it can also overstimulate the nervous system, and perpetuate those feelings. Rest your hands on your tummy, or one there and one on your chest, and see if you can get to feel movement with the lower hand instead of the top one. That's 'abdominal'or 'belly breathing', and it's much more efficient, allowing adequate time for the proper exchange of gases O2 and CO2; so instead of an imbalance stressing the nervous system, it calms it.
The picture here is of a plant called pulmonaria, or lungwort, growing at the edge of my 'yogarden' at home. Centuries ago physicians believed that plants held clues to their therapeutic use - this is called the 'Doctrine of Signatures' - and the patterned leaves were said to resemble lungs.