One of the most important things for trainers to work on with anyone is proper breathing. Your breathing pattern can help change your mood, can stabilize your spine, regulate digestion, clear your mind, fight off illness, slow your heart rate, improve blood flow, and improve flexibility.
Everyone involuntarily breathes, but are you breathing correctly? In my experience, most people do not use one of the most important muscles in their bodies properly… the DIAPHRAGM. Although not as sexy as the biceps, pecs, or the 6-pack muscles, the not-so-sexy diaphragm is necessary for breathing and yet no one really uses it. In order to use your diaphragm, breathe deeply, and use your lungs to their fullest capacity. (Pun intended) By breathing properly, you will strengthen your diaphragm, and will be able to take in more oxygen everyday.
Use these tips to breathe a little better.
- Always breathe through your nose.
The nose is for breathing and the mouth is for eating. Even a lot of top-level athletes train themselves to breathe nasally during tough workouts that leave everyone huffing and puffing.
- Breathe from the bottom up
Imagine filling your lungs as if you are pouring water into a glass. Breathe the air into the bottom of your lungs and let it fill up to the top. Your belly should push out first followed by your chest. Don’t force it out; let yourself naturally push it out. This technique uses your diaphragm and your lungs to the fullest.
- Don’t let your shoulders raise up
When taking a deep breath most people, lift their shoulders up to their ears as if I asked them a really tough question, “I don’t know”? This almost forces the air to stay in the top half of the lungs so that you can’t fully take that deep breath.
- Breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold.
I personally breath in for a slow three seconds, hold for a second, then exhale through my nose for five or more seconds, and then finally pause for about a second. This is a great way to relax, change your mood, and clear your mind. If you focus on counting while breathing, it helps to be present.
- Practice deep breathing
Breathing deeply for a minute daily will help your overall breathing while you are not even thinking about it. It trains your subconscious to breathe nasally, deeper, and to use your diaphragm more. It also helps to use the diaphragm so it doesn’t stay stagnant and unused.
If you are having trouble with deep breathing, I recommend trying Crocodile Breathing. To practice crocodile breathing, lie down on your stomach with the back of your hands on your forehead, breathe in through your nose, and try to have your belly push into the floor through breathing deeply. Try this for three to five minutes to help you train your diaphragm more.
Hopefully this gives you a little more understanding of breathing and the importance of using it to your benefit. Proper breathing will help you to perform longer in activities, such as walking, going up the stairs, tough workouts, and help you feel better all-around.
Next week I will teach you how to walk better 😉