Power breathing: Eight techniques to inhale energy and exhale stress
Oxygen keeps us alive, but the way we breath can be harnessed to improve our overall health and wellbeing too.
Deep breathing techniques and breathing exercises have long been employed to help us relax, to relieve anxiety, to help us fall asleep. But could we be doing even more with our breath?
Personal trainer Dean Hodgkin, head of programming on leading community wellness and fitness app TRUCONNECT by TV.FIT, has shared the concept of ‘power breathing’ – a technique that’s designed to manipulate energy levels, improve concentration and relieve stress.
Dean says that these simple to implement breathing techniques can be applied to everyday situations, and can make a real difference to our physical and mental health.
Here, Dean explains what it is, and shares eight of his favourite techniques to try today:
What is power breathing?
‘When feeling stressed, the respiratory muscles can tighten, so chest expansion is restricted, and shallow and more rapid breathing occurs,’ Dean tells Metro.co.uk.
‘This is inefficient because only the upper part of the lungs are engaged in the process when in fact the lower lobes of the lungs are where there is greater blood flow, and so increased potential to absorb more energy-boosting oxygen.’
Dean says power breathing is the remedy for this. He says research shows this kind of breathing can enhance the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a state of calm in the body, allowing it to rest, and repair.
‘It can also improve cardiac function, decrease the effects of stress and uplift both your mental and physical health,’ he says.
So, how do you do it?
‘The following power breathing exercises can be performed at your work desk, on the train during your commute, or at home on the sofa, while some can be used alongside working out or taking on your favourite sports,’ says Dean.
‘Try the following techniques and remember that like any other form of exercise, practice makes perfect.’
‘This will help to expel carbon dioxide and release tension in the sinuses and can be performed in any position at any time,’ says Dean.
- Begin with the mouth gently closed, inhaling deeply, ensuring the stomach rises. Then exhale quickly by contracting the diaphragm forcefully, to drive air out through the nose.
- The in breath will therefore be much longer than the out breath.
- Keep in mind the nostrils serve to filter the incoming air, so focus on the sense of introducing cleaner and purer air into your system.
- Repeat several times, keeping a steady rhythm.
- Sit in an upright position, ensuring the spine remains lengthened.
- Keeping the mouth closed, breathe in and out through the nose only, at a rate of 2-3 breaths per second. To aid the process, picture a bicycle pump being used to inflate a tyre.
- You should feel effort at the base of the neck, and in the chest and abdomen, but these respiratory muscles will strengthen over time.
- In order to avoid the risk of hyperventilation, begin by restricting duration to just 5 seconds, 3 repetitions, and gradually build up in 5-second increments.
- For best effect, this exercise is best performed in the mornings soon after you wake up.
‘This can enhance endurance, as well as the efficiency of the nervous and digestive systems,’ says Dean.
- With the mouth closed, inhale slowly through the nose.
- Next, close the glottis by lifting the back of the tongue to the roof of your mouth and exhale, through the nose.
- It’s important to pay attention to the noise and feeling of the vibration that is generated.
- Lie flat on your back to rest both the body and mind and let yourself sink into the bed or floor.
- Close your eyes and breathe calmly through the nose, aiming to take long, slow breaths. Ensure to inflate the lungs to full capacity rather than the usual tidal breathing, which is only a third of your lung capacity.
- Sustain a pleasant slow rhythm and concentrate on hearing to your inward breath. Nasal breathing will warm the air as it is introduced, so try to feel this warmth being pushed down into your centre, and your whole-body temperature gently rising from the inside to out.
- Sit in a comfortable, upright position and take a deep breath in through the nose.
- Hold for a count of seven, then slowly exhale through the mouth for a count of eight and repeat.
- Try to extinguish all the air as you breathe out and observe how it engages your deeper abdominal muscles and begins to draw your ribs down towards your hips at the end of the cycle.
- Aim to block out reoccurring thoughts and maintain your attention on the counts and the feeling of expanding and emptying the total volume of your lungs.
Dean says: ‘This can be done at any time, whether sitting, standing, or walking.’
- Think of an empowering word that stimulates your confidence, such as ‘succeed’, ‘overcome’, or ‘achieve’.
- Take a deep breath in and when exhaling silently say the word to yourself and make it last the full length of the out breath.
- As additional feelings and thoughts come into your head, salute and pay respect to them, but then restore your focus to repeating your special word to yourself.
- Whilst working out, the golden rule is to ‘exhale on the effort’. This will deliver further dynamism to your movements, which will allow you to perform at a higher level and essentially provide greater results.
- For example, when carrying out a squat exercise, the toughest part of the movement is lifting from the lowered position. As you bend the knees to sit into the squat position, ensure to inhale, and then actively exhale as you contract the thigh and buttock muscles to return to standing upright.
- This technique can be applied to any activity, remembering to exhale as you lift up the weight, or your own body against gravity.
‘Train your lungs to perform effectively, and your body to supply and utilise the oxygen more efficiently by using timing variations,’ says Dean.
- As you begin to run, start with a 2:2 ratio, breathing in for 2 strides and out for 2 strides. The aim is to build up to 3:3 and then 4:4.
- For swimming, take note of the number of breaths you take to get from one end of the pool to the other. The challenge is to swim the length of the pool in fewer breaths.
- Cyclists should work on trying to increase the number of revolutions for each breath, particularly on uphill stretches.
You can visit the TRUCONNECT by TV.FIT app to try your hand at mastering workouts and techniques including meditation, yoga, Pilates, strength, HIIT, cardio and more.
Source: Read Full Article