Take a second, put one hand on your ribs and one on your chest and just Breathe. Which hand is moving more?
Now take another moment (you’re worth it) and breathe more into the hand on your ribs. Feel the ribs expand forward, sideways and backwards like an accordian.
Mind Body connection
Breathing is so important for so many reasons, not just the obvious of errrrrrmmmm STAYING ALIVE!
Different exercise forms like to boast their own breathing ‘patterns’ or ‘techniques’ but which is the best and what exactly is it doing for us?
“Why should I pay so much attention to something that happens automatically?”
A proper full breath may be defined as an inhalation through the nose and an exhalation through slightly pursed lips, it should expand three dimensionally in to the rib cage, inflating the lungs like balloons. Then the ribs should close in and down, the diaphragm aides and the air is expelled.
When we breathe in this manner the benefits include:
A better mind muscle connection (important for exercise)
A clarity of mind (distressing, think yoga or Pilates)
An increased gaseous exchange in the lungs, (leading to excretion of waste products from the body).
The ability to engage the core stabilizing muscles of the spine and pelvis (sooooooooo important!)
If you take a moment to notice your own natural breath pattern, chances are you breathe into your chest and upper respiratory muscles only, putting tension on the upper back neck and shoulders.
Spending a few minutes a day and practicing breathing into the ribs can help you gain all the benefits mentioned above.
Taking this a step further and making it your new gym or workout accessory could see you reaping even more benefits…………
In yoga and Pilates, a breath pattern will often be cued by the instructor, hence why you feel so good after the class. You have gained a mind muscle connection, have clarity of thought and have taken time to distress and focus on you and your body and utilize it properly.
During weight training, a common mis-conception is to hold your breath or ‘brace the abs’ this causes a rise in blood pressure and intra-abdominal pressure and can cause hernias. Instead inhale on the lowering or eccentric (muscle lengthening) phase of the exercise and exhale on the exertion or concentric (muscle shortening) phase. Think of breathing through the exercise, this may take some practice and getting used to.
Similarly during cardiovascular exercises, think of breathing through your run or cycle for example. Shortened breath, gasping or indeed holding your breath, can lead to large fluctuations in blood pressure, light headedness and ‘stitches’.