We live in a hopped up culture, always GO! GO! GO! Let's take a minute to slow down, take some deep breaths, and really feel our body relax.
Fitness is all about making muscles engage when we strengthen them. But we also need the other side of the coin, which is deep breathing and relaxation. A muscle can only do two things: engage or relax. Let's relax.
I call this technique Maximum Breathing, because we are trying to maximize the amount of air that we bring into our lungs. [Side Note: I used to say that this technique "increased lung capacity." Now I don't make that claim because I can't prove it. But whether or not it actually does increase your lung capacity is irrelevant. What it does is it eliminates any blockages from your rib cage and therefore increases your functional long capacity. So you can breathe deeper.]
In order to do this technique you want to lie on your back on the floor. Make sure you are fully supported and you don't have to engage any muscles in order to stabilize yourself.
Begin to inhale through your nose, and when you reach the point where normally you would start exhaling, inhale another 10%. Then let the breath out slowly.
Continue this breathing pattern for about five minutes.
As you are breathing deeper, you also have to begin to breathe slower to keep the oxygen balance in your body.
As you inhale you are engaging your diaphragm muscle, which runs laterally at the top of your abdomen. As you inhale, that muscle is contracting. As the muscle relaxes, you exhale.
After 3 to 5 minutes of going 10% past your normal exhalation place, begin to go 20% past your normal exhale. So you begin to inhale, and when you reach the point where normally would start exhaling, inhale for about another 20%.
Notice muscles relaxing. Notice it getting easier. Notice your legs, your arms, your abdomen, your neck, face, and head.
As you gradually improve your body's ability to breathe deeply, you will notice tension dissipating.
Keep going to 30%, 40%, or more if it feels comfortable. The main idea here is that this should feel comfortable in the moment. You're not trying to force anything. Breathing should feel good.
This deep breathing exercise forms the foundation of health. You cannot begin an effective fitness program until you have the foundation of proper breathing. Do this exercise daily, For at least five minutes, but up to 15 to 20 minutes if you have time.
Let me know how this goes for you. I've had a lot of success in the studio with clients doing this type of breathing pattern and hope that it helps you as well.
Questions? Let me know by commenting below or feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.