Breathe in through your nose, count to four, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat. Relaxed yet? Great! But don’t breathe like that for everything you do! With exercise, proper breathing methods surprisingly don’t just consist of this involuntary action. In fact, certain exercises require specific breathing methods in order to perform at the optimum level. Listed below are some of your favorite exercises and the proper breathing techniques to implement when performing them.
Nama-stay calm. This is your happy place. As you know, yoga has a place in our hearts for being one of the – if not the most – relaxing and beneficial exercise that heals our bodies both physically and mentally. Who knew stretches and specific poses improved health? Due to the fluid movements of yoga, we can truly bring awareness to our breathing.
There are actually multiple ways to breathe in yoga, depending on the type of yoga you are doing. Since there are many types of yoga and breathing techniques, we will focus on the foundation for all breathing in yoga: basic awareness.
When going through the motion, where does your breathing speed up or slow down based on the intensity and difficulty during the poses? It is best to constantly take deep, unhurried breaths when entering, staying, and exiting a pose.
Breathe into the pose, exhale when your body completely reaches the pose, breathe in one more time, and exhale to exit it. Your muscles will relax, heart rate will slow down, and mind will hush its incessant chatter – ultimately bringing you to a lovely nirvana.
Never forget to breathe when you keep your guard up. Boxing, or any combative sport for that matter, takes a 360 from the soothing and steady energy in yoga. You’re always moving on your feet! In the ring, training, and sparring sessions – boxing requires fast, sharp breathing and movements in order to execute powerful, explosive strikes.
A common mistake that beginners in boxing make is that they hold their breath when throwing a punch. This does way more harm than good.
First, it deteriorates the power of a power of a punch, retracting the full impact of your fist. Second, holding in your breath can also cause nausea from the excess exertion. Vomiting in boxing is very common because people simply do not breathe!
Throw a punch on a sharp exhale exiting your mouth and then breathe in slowly through your nose. Since you hit with the force of your body, the exhale follows it. Sharp breathing doesn’t necessarily mean hyperventilation. Be careful!
3. CrossFit/Weight Training
How’s the workout of the day look? Intense and rapid, as usual. Ready to surpass your personal record? I know you will.
While CrossFit and Weight Training are two separate exercises with different fitness regimes, the execution of weight lifting and breathing can go hand-in-hand. With such intense exertion, breathing has to be perfect for not only properly lifting weights, but to prevent injury to your body.
No one wants to drop 200lbs on their toes. The breathing technique is simple. With the weights in front of you, breathe in slowly through your nose and exhale at the same pace. Not only do you need to physically prepare your body for muscle confusion and strength training, your mental strength needs to coincide with it. Firmly grasp the bar, kettlebells, or dumbbells as you normally would, breathe in for the lift, actually lift the weight, hold your breath for power, and exhale on the release. Make sure you also have proper form!
4. Rock Climbing
“Relaxed-Rock-Climbing-Face” – that is a thing. You need it! Rock climbing is an incredibly intensive sport, and has a more technical approach to breathing. You must adequately magnify intake of oxygen in order to establish a relaxing breathing pattern. Fun fact: the culture of urban rock climbing has a rich history within urban communities. It’s seen as a powerful manifestation to not only push your body to new limits, but reach all new heights of reaching your goals. When facing the climbing wall, one big inhale is necessary. Relax your face and every muscle in your body. You’re about to climb to a whole new level (literally and figuratively!). Grab that first rock, inhale and exhale to bring yourself higher to the next one, but keep your face relaxed the whole time. Repeat. Doing this causes your breathing to slow and relax, therefore sustaining the energy you need to reach the top of the wall. Release a breath after every exertion, and before you know it, you’ve hit the ceiling – or finally see the sunrise.
Running, like all forms of conditioning, relies heavily on inner mental strength. You would be surprised at how many miles you surpass if you constantly tell yourself you can. Posture also affects your breathing, so watch for that. Never breathe in through your mouth because your throat will dry out beyond relief. Simply, breathe in through your nose and out. One foot right after the other – you got this! Keep your hands slightly tights by your chest and relax your chest – the finish line is almost there. Regardless of speed or distance, the breathing remains the same.
6. Barre Class/Pilates
Never underestimate the power of Barre workouts and Pilates. It is seriously more rigorous than you think depending on the levels and types of classes you take. You can be sweating with just a few simple movements – it’s constant active breathing! Barre workouts and Pilates incorporate sharp breathing, just like boxing. However, the use of sharp breathing requires no combat! You will be focusing on controlling, developing, and sustaining the strength of muscles and stamina. Regardless of the specific movement, keep your abs and core tight because this is the house of your power. Breathe in normally into the exercise. Exhale short, pulse-like breaths if you’re repeating a constant movement. However, if you are remaining in a pose, revert back to yoga and take slow, deep breaths.
In the wise words of a little blue fish, “just keep swimming!”. Now, that we’ve tackled all the land exercises, let’s dive into something refreshing and cool. Swimming takes a whole other cake in terms of breathing artistry. Your swimming stroke and breathing method must coincide with one another – otherwise, you will immediately deplete your energy and speed. Did you know that blowing bubbles underwater as an exhale is one of the most important things you must do in swimming? It isn’t natural for us human to do this, so we hold our breath instead! Rather, we must practice to go against our instincts by exhaling underwater. To follow-through with proper breathing, make sure to breathe on the opposite side of the stroke. Professional swimmers use this method to both increase speed and time!
Whew! Breathing does have that much of an impact! Who would have thought? It affects the performance of a movement, our mind, body, and soul and the ability to make it from point A to point B, or A-Z. However, despite all the proper breathing techniques and logistics of it all, it comes to the same conclusion: breathing is just as important as the action of the exercise itself. Our limitations, strength, and determination are all wonderful things – give them all the justice with your profound strength and the gentle reminder to breathe just a slower – or faster.