When to Inhale and Exhale in a Pose

When to Inhale and Exhale in a Pose


When you are doing a lateral stretch to “help” the intercostals, shouldn’t you be inhaling as you bend? The bending is what stretches the ribs apart on that side, which is what the intercostals do when you inhale during diaphragmatic breathing.

Answer by Justine

Thank you for your question!! You are so right, when the inhale happens the ribs are expanding. I know there are many schools of thought on this, so I am going to give you my ‘Viniyoga’ answer 🙂 The only time we would go into a pose on an inhale would be for a backbend – to help extend the spine, all others are done on exhale (or suspension of the breath after exhale – which I don’t tend to teach that often as I don’t like how it feels in my body.) The reason being is that with the exhale we can engage the abs more strongly to protect the lower back and stabilize the pelvic/lumbar rhythm.

Where the real magic and physiological response happens is during stay in the pose – so in the case of the seated half moon, the intention is to repeat the pose several times moving into the lateral bend on exhale, and coming back to the starting point on inhale, to warm up the musculature and work with the bio-mechanics of movement. Then during stay the breath can really be used to target areas of tension in the rib cage while sustaining the lateral bend, inhaling in to the intercostals, so to speak. I like to hold the pose for a couple of minutes to have a bit more time for the fascia to stretch.