Pause. Pay attention to your breathing. Don’t change anything. Just really pay attention. Close your eyes.
Are you holding your abdomen in and breathing strictly from you chest? Or is your stomach moving with the inhalation and exhalation? Are your breaths short, shallow, and hurried? Or long, rich, and relaxed?
Your breathing is your life force, but how often do you think about it? Your breathing provides oxygen to your entire body. If you are breathing short and quick, there is far less oxygen entering your system and far more carbon dioxide than if you took long, deep, cleansing breaths. Bringing intention to something so simple and second natured as breathing can enhance your athletic performance, increase energy levels and help with recovery and relaxation.
By using proper breathing techniques, you will increase your lung capacity and flood your muscles with more oxygen, enhancing your performance during physical activities and sports.
How do you become a stronger breather? Just like how you become a stronger swimmer or runner or football player...you practice. Below are breathing exercises for you to use.
The basic breathing pattern is as follows:
- Take an in breath (through your nose) which fills your abdomen
- Continue to inhale and fill your lungs and chest
- Exhale (through your mouth) first from your lungs,
- Continue to exhale from your abdomen.
Hint:It can help to lay down with one hand on your chest and one on your belly. This allows you to feel where you are expanding in your body and what area you are inhaling to first. Try it out.
Once you have that wave like rhythm down, progress to count and hold variations. These counts and holds ratios will support different effects: relaxing, balancing, energizing. Play with the different ratios until you find one that you are comfortable with and will consistently do.
|4 counts||1 count||8 counts||4 counts||Relaxing|
|4 counts||1 count||12 counts||1 count||Relaxing|
|6 counts||1 count||10 counts||1 count||Relaxing|
|6 counts||1 count||8 counts||4 counts||Relaxing|
|8 counts||1 count||8 counts||1 count||Balancing|
|6 counts||2 counts||6 counts||2 counts||Balancing|
|6 counts||4 counts||6 counts||1 count||Energizing|
|6 counts||6 counts||6 counts||1 count||Energizing|
Although you may feel a bit rough and choppy at first, stick with these breathing exercise and you will see the results. Start by just trying to do it for a few minutes, then ten minutes, thirty… Practice these breathing exercises when you aren't in motion. As you conquer them, try to include them in your athletic pursuits. You can match inhalation counts to strides or weight lifting. When you do, you will be able to run further, faster, and with more ease than you could previously.
Your power can be uncovered in your breath.