Deep Breathing Exercises to Help You Become Unstoppable
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 anxiety, 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
Deep breathing exercises provide 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 a huge role in training success. From improving 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
While breathing is second nature, most people don’t breathe effectively. Here is how you can practice breathing to enhance your health.
The Autonomic Nervous System
Learning to breathe correctly and doing deep breathing exercises is about more than an inhale followed by an exhale. 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, blood pressure, 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 blood pressure while making it easier to breathe. The parasympathetic response is responsible for conservation and restoration, decreasing the breathing rate during restful periods and ordinary situations.
You may have heard the term "belly breathing" before. Also known as pranayama breathing in yoga, belly breathing, rather than chest breathing, is when you engage your diaphragms to not only expand your rib cage but pull your breath beyond that and into your abdomen. Diaphragms also play 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 diaphragmatic breathing exercises, focus on using your abdominal and pelvic diaphragms. These are the core diaphragms containing muscles responsible for contraction and expansion within the abdomen. 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: Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose until your lungs are full; use your abdomen to inhale completely. You should notice an expansion of the lower rib cage and abdomen, rather than an upward or inward upper chest motion. We want belly breathing, not chest breathing.
- Step Two: Once you’ve inhaled completely, hold your breath for 3-7 seconds. This is to allow a proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. You should feel full of air, from your rib cage to your stomach muscles. Your shoulders should be pulled back and your head held erect to maintain an open airway.
- Step Three: Breathe out all the air through your mouth with a whooshing sound. As you exhale, try to visualize your cells releasing waste and absorbing energy. This is a form of mindful breathing and will help you release any muscle tension you're experiencing and calm any heart rate variability.
When done correctly, engaging your lower diaphragms in proper diaphragmatic breathing exercises can bring you numerous health benefits, like reduced heart rate, lower blood pressure, a boosted metabolism, and an increased blood circulation level. It can also help to relax your mind and body.
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 while preventing delayed onset muscle soreness.
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 mindful breathing exercise is best practiced before sleeping. It makes your mind calm, improves sleep, reduces anxiety, and efficiently relaxes your entire body. If done correctly you can feel the air flowing into the chest.
To practice the balanced breathing technique, take a calming breath by 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 by belly breathing, 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 the body, improves focus, reduces muscle tension, 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 deep breathing exercises help eliminate stress and muscle tension.
To begin, close your eyes and focus on visualizing pleasant images, natural surroundings, and positive thoughts. Breathe very slowly. Clear your mind and discard negative thoughts. Try to redirect your focus to a 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 bring mindfulness to the body. Tai-Chi is also one of the oldest and best mindful 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 belly breathing by engaging 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.
Close your eyes and make your spine erect. Breathe deeply, pulling the air into your rib cage 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 muscle tension. You will have more stress over trivial things. Improper breathing can limit your oxygen supply, which increases your stress levels and your blood pressure. 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, Calming Breath
Breathing can easily be controlled by continuously practicing the deep breathing exercises given above. There are a lot of benefits of mindful 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.