The Most Underrated Muscles

I'm currently fascinated by the intercostal muscles: the muscles between each rib. I'm spending a lot of time opening them and learning about their unique position and function in the body. Did you know that the intercostal muscles are the only muscles in front of your thoracic spine? The cervical spine has many muscles in front of it, and the lumbar has the psoas, but the closest muscles to the thoracic spine are the intercostals—and they aren't even attached to the spine itself. How interesting! The intercostals are responsible for 30% of normal breathing. 30%! That’s one-third of our breath capacity, which means that tension in the intercostals equals 30% less oxygen for the body.

And there is definitely tension in the intercostals. Beyond the fact that they are used all the time for breathing, a common problem called “dowager’s hump” is created by sitting at a desk and slouching. Of course carrying grief and sadness from the past also creates tension. These muscles work hard and often, which means that in order to open them, time is required. A thirty-second backbend just won’t do it, even if repeated many times.

When held for 5-10 minutes, postures like the Supported Matsyasana help to undo the tension held in the intercostals, as well as improve breathing, correct posture, remove grief, bring the feeling of joy, and—like all backbends—move you from fear to power. All very important things to work on.

I'll be in Asheville this weekend, teaching more about the intercostals for a Purna Yoga Weekend at One Center Yoga. Other topics for the weekend include Aadil's famous Eye Workshop, a DIY asana detox, the two most important postures in asana: The King and Queen (Shirsahasana and Sarvangasana), and meditation—the reason for your practice. Asheville is only three hours away and it's so beautiful right now. Join me at One Center Yoga June 3-5th.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about the wonder that is your body, join me for the 200 Hour Purna Yoga Teacher Training that starts June 11th, 2016. Preview the curriculum here and register on our website .


Free Classes @ Local Farmers Markets

Ponce City - Starting Tuesday 6/7 at 4pm Decatur - Saturday 6/11 & 6/18 at 10am East Atlanta Village - Thursday 6/16 at 6pm Westside - Sunday 6/19 & 6/26 at 10:30am

Don't forget about our new contribution classes! Click here to view our full schedule + register for classes at All Life is Yoga online.