Breathing

29 Feb

Sounds easy, right?  Breathing is something we all do every day without thinking about.  We’ve been doing it since we were babies.  What’s so hard about breathing?

As any yogi, or karate student, runner, or PT client will tell you, there’s a lot more to proper breathing than just “in and out”.  Oxygen is converted by your body into energy; it fuels your muscles to help get them through your activity; it calms your nervous system; it aids in digestion and metabolism; and of course as all brain function is dependent on oxygen, it helps relieve fatigue, drowsiness, and (some) memory loss.  Aside from hydration, nothing will affect the quality of your workout more than proper oxygenation.

So how does one properly oxygenate oneself?

Before you work out: take 10 deep breaths, filling your lungs entirely and then emptying them completely.  Breathe slowly.  Take this time to get focussed and geared up.

During cardio: the typical “in through the nose, out through the mouth” does not apply here, as you’ll need more oxygen than that’ll allow.  Breathe through both nose and mouth simultaneously, drawing your breath from the diaphragm rather than the chest, as chest breathing is too shallow for this activity.

During weight training: breathe in during the eccentric part of your movement (lowering the weight), and breathe out during the concentric part (lifting the weight).  Sending oxygen to your muscle as it’s lengthening (eccentric) will provide it with the energy it needs to carry out the following concentric movement.  It will also help to relax the muscle, and therefore increase your range of motion.

While stretching: a great yoga technique is to “send your breath” to the body part you’re stretching.  It actually works!  Take at least 5 deep breaths for each stretch, focussing on sending the oxygen to that specific muscle.  It may help to visualize the oxygen particles actually traveling through the air to your nose, down your neck, into your lungs, then to the muscle.  The oxygen will help your muscles to relax, and you’ll be able to get a little deeper into the pose with every breath.

In everyday: how are you breathing right now?  You’re probably taking quick, shallow breaths through your chest, aren’t you?  I am.  Bad Tess!!  Any time you’re stressed, or tired, or any time you can think of it, change your breaths to long, slow, deep, and controlled inhales and exhales.  Try holding your breath for a second when your lungs are filled, then pausing again when they’re completely empty.  Or, try taking multiple short, quick inhales until your lungs are filled, then exhale the same way.

 

Here’s a good video:

 

-Tess

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