Whether it is swimming, boxing, fighting or any other sport, you need to have good control over your breathing. Deep breathing boosts stamina, reduces stress, and can help you Become Unstoppable. The ability to take deep breaths is necessary to win.
Deep breathing exercises help you get proper control over breathing in general and improve your lung capacity. Here are some useful breathing techniques that will help you conquer your training and feel better overall.
Benefits of Deep Breathing
Breathing provides energy to the muscles during physical stress and exercise. The use of oxygen during times of steady-state exercise is known as aerobic respiration. This cycle uses easily-accessible energy in the form of ATP, a compound which powers our muscles and many other important physical functions.
Deep breathing is an underrated practice that plays huge role in training success. From building self-confidence to building strength, learning to control your breathing is a game changer. Here are a few of the benefits of deep breathing:
- Reduces stress
- Enhance stamina
- Helps control shortness of breath
- Improves speed of recovery
- Builds endurance
- Increases muscular strength
- Improves digestion
- Improves blood pressure
How to Breathe Correctly
The Autonomic Nervous System
Breathing correctly largely depends on the signals sent via the autonomic nervous system, or ANS, which controls the unconscious actions of our bodies. Digestion, heart rate, and breathing are just a few of the actions controlled by the ANS. The ANS is further divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems have contrasting functionality. For instance, the sympathetic system triggers the fight-or-flight response in stressful situations, increasing the heart rate and making it easier to breathe. The parasympathetic response is responsible for conservation and restoration, decreasing the breathing rate during restful periods and ordinary situations.
Diaphragms also plays a major role in breathing correctly. There are four prevalent diaphragms:
- Cranial diaphragm – connective tissues within the skull.
- Cervical diaphragm – controls pressure between the cranium and cervical spine.
- Thoracic diaphragm – also recognized as the abdominal diaphragm, dividing the thoracic and abdominal cavities.
- Pelvic diaphragm – controls pressure between the pelvis and abdomen.
To develop proper breathing techniques, focus on using your abdominal and pelvic diaphragms. These are the core diaphragms containing muscles responsible for contraction and expansion within the abdominal cavity. An increase in pressure in the abdominal chamber will result in reduced pressure inside the thoracic chamber– the space in which you find your heart and lungs. This reduced pressure allows air to move more freely within the thoracic cavity.
Learning to Breathe
Breathing deeply does not necessarily mean you are breathing correctly. You need to focus on breathing in a rhythmic way that engages the core diaphragms. Slow down your breathing process and try to focus on your rhythm. Here are some quick steps for performing correct abdominal breathing:
- Step One: Breathe in through your nose until your lungs are full; use your abdomen to inhale completely. You should notice an expansion of the lower ribcage and abdomen, rather than an upward or inward chest motion.
- Step Two: Once you’ve inhaled completely, wait for 3-7 seconds. This is to allow a proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
- Step Three: Breathe out all the air through your mouth. While exhaling, try to visualize your cells releasing waste and absorbing energy.
When done correctly, engaging your lower diaphragms in proper diaphragmatic breathing can bring you numerous health benefits, like reduced heart rate, boosted metabolism, and increased blood circulation level.
The increased blood circulation is particularly beneficial, as it carries oxygen to muscles damaged during training efforts. This effect can assist in post-workout recovery and regeneration.
Powerful Deep Breathing Exercises
There are numerous deep breathing exercises that will help you learn to control your breath and improve your training efforts. To reap the benefits of deep breathing, here are a few techniques to get you started:
Balanced Breathing Technique
This exercise is very helpful for improving lung capacity and overcoming shortness of breath. This exercise is best practiced before sleeping. It makes your mind calm, improves sleep, and efficiently relaxes your entire body. If done correctly you can feel the air flowing into the chest.
To practice the balanced breathing technique, start inhaling through your nose while counting from one to four. Now, exhale through your nose and count back from four to one. Make sure that the force for breathing is generated from belly, using the abdominal and pelvic diaphragms.
Once you master the basics of this technique, try for 6-8 counts in each breath. This exercise relaxes body, improves focus, and eliminates stress.
Guided Meditation Technique
Guided meditation exercises are usually performed with guidance from an expert, or with recorded audio guidance from an app such as Headspace. Additionally, you can record your own guided meditation using scripts from Inner Health Studio. Guided breathing helps eliminate stress and tension.
To begin, close your eyes and focus on visualizing pleasant images, natural surroundings, and positive thoughts. Breathe very slowly. Discard the negative thoughts and try to redirect your focus to the positive image while continuing to breathe deeply. This will increase mindfulness, flush negative thoughts and make you feel refreshed and stress-free.
Yoga and Tai-Chi
Just like the other exercises, Tai-Chi and yoga brings mindfulness to the body. Tai-Chi is also one of the oldest and best deep breathing techniques. You need to practice this in a relaxed, focused, and continuous way. Tai-Chi is made up of deep breathing and mindful movements. After you feel comfortable with the breathing technique below, you can begin to incorporate beginner-level movements.
Start by relaxing your body. Put your tongue on the surface of your mouth, where it feels most natural. Start inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Do not use your mouth for breathing. Practice taking long and continuous breaths. Remember to focus on your abdomen while performing this breathing exercise.
This relaxation exercise helps in both boosting your mood and relaxing your body from head to toe. If done correctly, you will feel the tension leaving your mind.
Start by closing your eyes and making your spine erect. Breathe deeply, pulling the air into your lungs using abdominal and pelvic diaphragms, and focus on tensing and relaxing your muscles for around 2-3 seconds before exhaling. Start with a particular body part (your toes, for example) and then move to other areas from the bottom to the top of your body. When you are done, you should feel relaxed.
Effects of Incorrect Breathing on Stress Levels and Training
While proper breathing exercises can help your body, incorrect breathing can create hurdles on your way to achieving your goals. Here are a few of the negative attributes of failing to incorporate deep breathing techniques into your life:
Stress and Tension
Improper breathing triggers stress hormones, which cause a continuous state of stress and tension. You will have more stress over trivial things. Improper breathing can limit your oxygen supply, which increases your stress levels. If you’re feeling too stressed, here are a few Gloveworx approved ways to de-stress in and out of the gym.
Weakness in Training
If you are practicing your sport and not breathing correctly, you will soon diminish. Many beginner athletes feel weak and exhausted after training due to shortness of breath. This is ultimately caused by a limited lung capacity. Reduced oxygen uptake reduces the respiration rate in muscles and increases weakness. Make sure to breathe properly while training.
Chest and Abdominal Pain
Chest and abdominal pain are more common with improper breathing. If you are tired and not inhaling properly, this condition may lead to panic attacks. Poor breathing techniques can also be connected to seemingly unrelated issues, such as skin conditions, hair loss, and the immune system.
Take a Deep Breath
Breathing can easily be controlled by continuously practicing the deep breathing exercises given above. There are a lot of benefits of deep breathing; you just need to practice the right breathing technique. The key trick to deep breathing is to use your diaphragms to their full potential. For the best possible results, make sure to activate your diaphragm when practicing these techniques.
Diaphragmatic breathing quickly increases oxygen supply to the body. This allows your mind to conquer negative thoughts, stress, weaknesses, and create a positive-self image. Once you have control over your breath, you are ready to conquer every challenge.