As you can probably imagine, focusing on the breath and breathing techniques are a big part of yoga teacher training. Learning how to follow your breath to release thoughts, relax and to lead movement. Similarly, the same applies beyond the mat.
We breathe everyday without giving it thought. It’s an automatic response that provides our blood and organs with oxygen and eliminates toxins and waste products from our bodies.
We breathe an average of 22,000 breaths daily. Quite literally [and metaphorically], breath is life.
Each breath provides oxygen to our muscles so it makes sense that using the breathing effectively will help you get the most out of your workouts while providing bonus benefits. So often we’re so focused on what we’re doing we hold our breath and without the fresh oxygen being delivered to the muscles what we’re doing becomes much harder.
Breathing Techniques for Different Workouts
Strength Training During resistance training exhale on the effort – which is the hardest part of the exercise and when you’re muscles are moving against the resistance – and inhale on the easier part. If you’re doing a bicep curl, exhale bringing the weight up (against resistance) and exhale bringing the weight down. Same concept applies to push-ups, inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up (against resistance).
Cardio Exercise Breathe from the diaphram and avoid shallow breathing from the chest. Develop a regular breathing pattern as much as possible to maximize oxygen flow.
Running This is sometimes the weak link for well trained athletes. Without proper breathing techniques less air enters the lungs, less oxygen is delivered to the blood and necessary amounts of carbon dioxide is not eliminated all of which can reduce endurance. Find a rhythm for your breathing pattern to keep the inhale and exhale rate even. Try a pattern aligning breathing with your steps. For example, a 2:2 rhythm is inhale every 2 steps, exhale every 2 steps. Or maybe a 3:3 pattern works better for you.
Stretching Breathing properly helps your body relax allowing your body to come into a resting state and to fully release into the stretch. Take long deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale out your mouth. On every exhale, when there is no tension in the body, feel how your body gives in more fully to the stretch.
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Do you focus on your breathing when you workout? Do you tend to hold your breath when you strength train especially if you’re lifting heavy?
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