Looking to improve your fitness? Start by breathing right!
Nothing replenishes the mind and body like a bit of exercise! I know, it’s not always a joy, it’s not always easy, and it really is not everyone’s cup o’ tea. But if you do try for a little jog or a lifting session, just remember: breathe in, breathe out! There’s not that much more than that to give your muscles all the oxygen they need for your efforts. Easier said than done. A lot of us tend to tense up, hold our breath… Breathing with full lungs can be sometimes difficult, but fortunately there are ways to practice breathing better.
Focus your attention
It’s easier to focus your attention, without getting too tired, on something that is always there but never stating. This is why we can remain awake and fascinated for extended periods at the sight of waves, flames or passing clouds: they’re always there, but never the same.
This is how I learned to fix my attention on my breathing. I know, it’s easy to say. But if I lie down in the most comfortable position I can, on my side, and close my eyes, I can calm down and concentrate on my breath. Focused and relaxed, I can take the time to breathe slowly but deeply.
You probably already know that the whole action of breathing is much more than inhaling air through your nose. It is also inflating your lungs to favour the intake of air. Just being conscious of this will change everything and definitely help you train your breathing.
You may have heard of the differences between “thoracic” and “abdominal” breathing. The first one consists of inflating your chest to breathe, while the other consists of inflating your tummy. Well, what enables me to breathe better is without any doubt the second! We naturally inflate our chests when we breathe, but by focusing on inflating the tummy as you inhale, and tucking it in when you exhale, you train your body to take in an expel as much air as possible. As such, you optimise your breathing for physical efforts – this has enhanced my cardio, stretching, a weights session by a mile!
Training your breathing
Did you know: focusing on breathing in deeply, through your tummy, whether you’re standing, sitting or lying down, could help you control your emotions. Take the time to breathe correctly in transports, at work, or lazing around at home. It is efficient against stress and anxiety. Fears? Problems?… Breathe! Looking to get as many push-ups or burpees in as possible? Breathe!
You can download smartphone apps to help you train your breathing. Do little sessions: even 5 or 10 minutes at a time helps. You’ll find some really easy, fun, and rewarding apps with simple exercises to follow, and gongs to help you situate yourself in the exercise.
Next time you encounter an issue, whether it be a physical challenge or not, just remember to breathe. Breathing is your number one partner to regain control of your emotions. You know what, breathing right is a sport too! That means I’m allowed a cake reward. Yay.