Another point of view to assist better breathing is side bending postures. I consider these side stretches along with twists essentials for supporting deeper breathing.
This is such a well rounded asana (parivrttaikapada upavistha konasana) that spreads, twists, turns and churns from the inside out. What a wonderful way to change your point of view. When we are just too stuck to get out of ourselves and need to see things in a different light, settle into a side bendy pose.
When I teach these in my classes I am reminded that they are not easy. If there is limitation in the hip joint, tight legs (groins and hamstrings) or lower back, these Asanas are difficult and feel restrictive. However, always consider this: what is revealed to you in an asana, the asana is the resolution!
On a more practical side of the source of tightness in these asanas is that we are not typically reaching sideways in day to day activities. We may twist to look behind us, we will bend down to pick something up and we usually give ourselves a good morning stretch with a slight backward movement snuck in.
Because people are in the habit of bending from the waist rather then moving from the hips, strain is felt in the lower back, tightness is not addressed in the legs and the posture stays limited. Once we take the approach and make the change from the limited to making the posture a whole body affair we will see and feel the changes that bring the experience of lightness we are seeking in the asana.
The lateral body is stretched and elasticity of the intercostal muscles is increased. Allowing easier movement within the ribcage offers the potential of more freedom within the accessory muscles involved in deep breathing.
A side bending pose requires lots of directions of movement at once. The spine extends, the hips move into lateral flexion, a slight back bend elongates the front of the torso and a gentle rotation of the spine together harmoniously creates the artistry of this Asana. The complexity of isolating these movements develops the integration of the body mind and breath.
From another point of view, the energy of the Gall bladder meridian moves along the sides of the body. The Gallbladder meridian is affected by the burdens of decision making and anger. As you are opening up into side bending you are also moving through un-burdening the accumulation of these emotions.
Balancing both sides of the body is a key benefit of doing yoga. in side stretches we are literally seeing this imbalance and moving through to the other side harmonizing not only our body but our attitude.
Welcome to another point of view and enjoy the gifts of side stretches.