Few of us would go back to living life as an infant or child.
It’s great to be out of diapers, competently be able to feed and bathe ourselves (save for the occasional red chile spill) and riding a bike is way more fun without the training wheels.
If there is one thing children do immensely better than adults it’s one of the simplest and yet most vital…breathing
If you are reading this, you are breathing (right) Stop reading and notice where your breath originates. (We’ll come back to this later. OK, back to reading)
Your coach, no doubt, has taken you through “belly breathing” exercises…maybe as part of a warm-up or with stretching. Or you have been prompted to “keep breathing” during a workout.
Did you ever wonder why we emphasize breathing?
For starters, it affects your ability to move.
Apical expansive breathing — quick, short breathing, initiated by the shoulders, chest and neck — is not only energy consuming, but also elevates us into the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system.
The “fight or flight” mechanism that served our caveman ancestors well has less relevance in today’s Tesla, Uber Eats and Starbucks-driven environment.
But your body doesn’t know the difference between a hungry wild animal that wants you for dinner and a stressful workplace — it simply perceives a threat.
So constant “shallow” breathing just feeds the stress response. And over time this can lead to stiff necks, backs, headaches and a loss of range of motion.
On the other hand, “belly breathing” is powered by the diaphragm, mobilizing the ribcage to expand in a three-dimensional pattern.
Breathing deep into the cavity of the belly allows us to oxygenate tissue, steady the nervous system and increase aerobic efficiency.
It has been shown to:
— Relax you within a minute
— Improve exercise recovery
— Improve digestion and glucose regulation
— Improve the immune system.
— Lead to better sleep
— Improve posture and feelings of well being
The simple act of mastering the “belly breath” has the potential for a big impact. If we can master breathing we can master relaxation and manifest changes in our posture that have been brought on by years of stress and tension
Ask a coach for simple ways you can begin building a regular practice of “belly breathing” and check out this month’s #askelevatephw video for more.