Throughout our lives, there is a whole lot of breathing that happens, and we may not focus on how we breathe on a day to day basis, which can affect the way we move and live.
Taking a little time each day to practice breathing techniques can be rewarding and exhilarating. My background in strength training has taught me how to control my breath to maximize stability within the spinal column and I have recently learned a breathing technique to help relax and calm the body. It will take some practice, as with anything else. Try it while you’re reading, driving, or before a warm-up to assist with linking the mind and body before exercise.
Mindful Breathing Steps:
- INHALE: Start by laying down, face up, with your knees bent. Breathe in slowly through your nose. I like to imagine trying to fill up two little balloons that have been stuffed into your nose. You want to imagine the balloons filling up and opening up your nose-way as you continue to inhale. You want to keep your shoulders relaxed and expand the lower ribs. Breathe deep into your belly and let the stomach expand. Try not to resist this expansion of the abdomen.
- EXHALE: This is an important step, especially for individuals that are “chest” or “apical” breathers. These are people that have a difficult time relaxing their diaphragm or deep breathing muscles. If you notice yourself holding tension in your neck and shoulders at the end of the day, practicing full exhalations might help relieve some of that tension! To do this, simply pull your ribs back in, and slightly push your chest down as you try to expel all of the air you inhaled. Continue to exhale for as long as 10 seconds. You can put your hand in front of mouth as feedback to when you can’t breathe out anymore. Feel your abdominal muscles contract, when this happens, it can allow your diaphragm to relax.
- REPEAT: repeat this breathing pattern for about 6-10 cycles and taking breaks if necessary. It can be an overload of cues and techniques, so take your time to understand what should be happening with the air flow, rib-cage, diaphragm, and abdominal muscles with each cycle.
Treat this as an exercise and work it into your warmup or daily routine! I have started doing this for a few months and find it helps me mentally and physically. Boom, go get some fresh air.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
INTERESTING BREATHING FACTS:
- Sneezing can travel up to 10 miles per hour
- Your diaphragm is a muscle that sits under your lungs and helps to move breath in and out of your body
- A person who lives to 80 will take about 675,000,000 breaths during their lifespan, or about 25,000 breaths a day.
- When you exercise, breathing can increase from 15 breaths per minute to almost 40-60 times per minute