If balance is power, then breath is life. Proper alignment of the spine facilitates both. Proper alignment of the spine keeps you alive. If your spine is in the right place, then you can get clear, efficient breath. Breathing should be easy. In fact, in our way of thinking living in your body should be easy.
In life, you want your head on straight, or level. Similarly you want your diaphragm and pelvic floor level as well. You can think of these as three platforms in the body. They mirror each other just as the curve in the neck mirrors the curve in the lower back. With a proper curve in the lumbar spine and neck, these three platforms can be level.
We need to develop proper spinal alignment. Because we’ve tucked our pelvis under, we tend to lean backwards a bit…as if to find the natural curve and balance that the lumbar would give us if we used it. We lean back right at the top of the lumbar spine where it meets the thoracic spine (L1 and T12 in vertebrae speak). This is a very important juncture point in the body – the psoas, the trapezius both connect there. This is the level of the diaphragm and the solar plexus. We’re leaning backwards and compromising this important physical and energetic center. Of course this also makes us round the upper back backwards and the upper chest forward. (To be fair, before you collapse into self-judgment, remember the images our culture promotes…butts under, abs in, shoulders up and back).
This postural issue is a big reason why we tend towards limited or shallow breathing, compromising our breath capacity and efficiency. When we inhale in this position, the diaphragm hits the spine. The diaphragm just drops right onto the shelf that you created by leaning backwards. It has nowhere else to go.
Play with these different positions. Allow yourself to have a curve in your lumbar and then drop your front ribs (the ones you can see sticking out, just give them a pat so they fold into the body). Breathe in this place. Do you feel how the belly pushes out a bit? The breath falls more naturally into the entirety of the lungs and the diaphragm moves down pressing the belly out a little. That change to the spinal alignment makes everything work better…including breathing and thus being alive.