Those of you who train with me may tire of my repetition of the word “breathe”. However, nothing is more essential to our well-being than breathing. We do it on average 25,000 times a day. And yet, most people are not breathing correctly.
The science of breath
James Nestor’s new book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, posits that breathing is the singular most important aspect of life, as well as fitness. A breathing seminar for healthcare professionals I recently attended echoed this position.
Research shows us that the way we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance, rejuvenate internal organs, and reverse certain autoimmune diseases. However, if not done properly, breathing can adversely impact the heart, brain, digestion, the immune system, and even posture.
Breathing is either functional or dysfunctional. Dysfunctional breathing includes hyperventilation, mouth breathing and upper chest breathing. It causes an inability to take a deep and satisfying breath. Dysfunctional breathing is known to cause disruptions in our body.
It affects our pain threshold, increases muscle fatigue, and increases blood pressure and heart rate. Add to that snoring, sleep apnea and asthma. Upper chest breathing can also cause poor stabilization, resulting in poor posture.
So how should we breathe? To begin with, breathe less. Take slower, deeper breaths. Breathe through your nose. It is better adapted to filter the air and promotes a deeper breath. Use your diaphragm when you breathe, pushing the air down into your lower abdomen. During exercise, inhale on the relaxation and exhale during the exertion.
If you are an athlete, this will have a remarkable positive influence. Take some time each day to practice functional breathing. Take control of your breath. You need to be the pilot, not the passenger…one breath at a time.