Do you ever find yourself gasping for air while working out? You could be holding your breath or just not breathing properly for your chosen calorie blasting activity. Training yourself to breathe during a workout (and all the time) will give you more energy, lasting endurance, and an overall sense of well being.
A common question regarding breathing while exercising is whether we should breathe from our mouths or noses. Breathing through your nose is considered to be a better choice since your nostrils act as a filter for nasty air particles that could possibly effect the lungs (among other reasons). Nose breathing seems perfectly suitable for yoga or tai chi practice, but taking an aerobics class or running while breathing only through the nose seems unfathomable, right? Well, when you demand your muscles to work faster, harder and stronger they crave more oxygen so naturally we open our mouths to allow more air into the lungs. The trick is learning to fill the lungs completely without opening the mouth.
Surprisingly, training yourself to breathe deeply (accessing the full movement of the diaphragm) and through the nose while performing high intensity activities is the most beneficial and actually humanly possible! For example, professional track and field athlete, Perry Fields, swears by deep diaphragmatic breathing techniques. Mrs. Fields (no pun intended…) runs the 800m and 1600m, two of the most grueling races, and experienced huge improvement in her performance and overall health after learning to breathe properly. Read up on her story and technique.
Another tip commonly heard from physical trainers is to exhale when you are flexing or exerting your muscles and inhale as you lengthen and release. This is an easy and powerful technique I use everyday in my Pilates practice. Keep in mind though that it’s really easy to train your muscles to ONLY work when you exhale. This is problematic since we as people and three-dimensional movers and shakers need to be able to move affectively and efficiently on both the inhale and exhale. Try it! I guarantee it’s harder to inhale as you perform a given exercise, like a bicep curl. Challenging, but necessary.
Next time you hit the gym take note of your breathing patterns and circumstances where you hold your breath. Once you are aware you can start to make changes that will harness the power of your breath.
�Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.�~ Thich Nhat Hanh