Yoga India Foundation

What is Clavicular Breathing in Pranayama?

Clavicular breathing is the final stage of total ribcage expansion. It occurs after the thoracic inhalation has been completed. In order to absorb a little more air into the lungs, the upper ribs and the collar bone are pulled upwards by the muscles of the neck, throat and sternum. This requires maximum expansion on inhalation and only the upper lobes of the lungs are ventilated. In daily life, clavicular breathing is only used under conditions of extreme physical exertion and when experiencing obstructive airway diseases such as asthma.

Clavicular Breathing Instructions:

  1. Lie in Shavasana and relax the whole body
  2. Maintain unbroken awareness of the natural breath for some time, concentrating on the sides of the chest
  3. Perform thoracic breathing for a few minutes
  4. Inhale fully expanding the rib cage
  5. When the ribs are fully expanded, inhale a little more until expansion is felt in the upper portion of the lungs around the base of the neck
  6. The shoulders and collar bone should also move up slightly.
  7. This will take some effort.
  8. Exhale slowly, first releasing the lower neck and upper chest, then relaxing the rest of the rib cage back to its starting position
  9. Continue for a few more breaths, observing the effect of this type of breathing
  10. Relax any effort and once again watch the spontaneous breathing pattern
  11. Bring the awareness back to observing the physical body as a whole
  12. Be aware of the surroundings and gently open the eyes

Clavicular breathing needs to be understood and practised properly in order to progress in Pranayama and move to Yogic Breathing.

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