Extend Your Battery Life with Breath
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
You track how many steps you take, jot down how many reps and sets you did, and note how deeply you stretched, but what about monitoring your breath? Ensuring you’re getting the most out of your workout is not just about what’s on your Fitbit. How you breathe between your movement matters! Studies have shown that practicing proper breathing can improve your fitness performance by as much as 15 percent.
While breathing is an autonomic bodily function – one that does not require thought – it should be a conscious thought and effort, while practicing yoga and really any exercise for that matter. When practicing yoga, it is important for your movements to be guided by your breathing and not the other way around. You may notice that when you completely submerge yourself into a pose, pushing to achieve a peak goal, you may lose your breath or even hold your breath. It is at that very moment that you break your pose. You think to yourself, “Aaah! I was doing so well and I blew it.” That’s okay.
Before attempting any pose, try taking some inventory on your breath before you begin. This is especially important for beginners. Practice yogic breathing without the postures. Develop an idea of what is good for you. When you’re ready, inhale through your nose for one or two seconds, then slowly raise your arms above your head on the inhale. When you reach the end of the inhalation, pause, then slowly exhale for one to two minutes as you bring your arms down to your sides. This is the best way to take inventory on how you feel. Do you know when and why your breath is shallow, or what makes it speed up?
Learning to control your breath through deep awareness, not only improves focus and concentration, but also has been shown to lower blood pressure. You will learn as you practice when to inhale and when to exhale to optimize your experience. For instance, we inhale when lifting or opening our chests and exhale when we fold or twist. We create space in our bodies for the air to fill when we inhale and cleanse that space through our breath’s detoxifying exhale. This is how we get that oxygen-rich blood to flow!
Yogic breathing teaches us how to most effectively use oxygen to improve endurance, because the body uses oxygen to produce energy. By focusing on your breath, you are conditioning your lungs and respiratory system for sports and all other forms of exercise. Combining breath with movement can be tricky, but it is pertinent in extending the life of your energy source.