Your breath is our life force or Prana. Without it, we wouldn’t be alive. So it is essential to our lives but it’s also something you can use to make your life better. There are a variety of different breaths which were created along with the inception of yoga so many centuries ago. Some techniques will help you reduce anxiety, some will help you stretch your muscles out further. There are ways you can breathe that aid in helping you run faster and further. You can even utilize it to help you pump heavier weights. The benefits of your breath may surprise you.
Breathing Can Improve Your Workout
If you use yoga to support your workout, you will probably notice some major benefits. For one, you have greater strength through better posture. What you will probably notice too is that you don’t get exhausted so quickly. You can run further and faster, cross train like a rock star, and lift weights more fluently and with less effort. When doing yoga, you learn that the body follows the rhythm of the breath. You can take this into your workout, using the breath effectively so you don’t run out of steam.
When you learn to breathe properly, you improve your fitness regime because you optimize the oxygen in your body. You will have more energy after your workout and breathing helps you to metabolize fat. When you learn to use your focus of breath, you will find that your workouts become much more enhanced and enjoyable.
Yogic Breathing and Stress
Thoughts or feelings can conjure up stressful moments for you. When this happens, the sympathetic nervous system is triggered to use your body’s fight/flight response. This gives you a burst of energy of course. Breathing is shallowed and adrenaline is searing through your body. When you don’t run or need to protect yourself, this causes cortisol levels to stay in the body. This is where stress becomes damaging. Blood pressure rises as well as the pulse rate. Some people live in this kind of state of panic a lot and don’t breathe optimally for their health on top of it all.
When you breathe deeply, you can reverse all the symptoms that occur at the moment of major stress. Just by taking a deep breath into the belly, maybe even holding it there briefly and slowly releasing the breath, you combat an anxious feeling. You activate the parasympathetic nervous system, reversing all the stress that could have wreaked havoc on your body. The heart rate will slow down to a normal rate which will reduce blood pressure. You’ll notice the calm right away if you practice this through an anxious moment.
Reducing Strain on the Muscles of Your Neck and Upper Chest
When you breathe deeply into the belly, you engage your stomach muscles and diaphragm. Otherwise, it’s your upper chest and neck muscles that become engaged. When you condition yourself to breathe deeply, you improve how efficiently oxygen is exchanged. More air exchange occurs in the lower lungs. You essentially get more oxygen being fed into your tissues and cells.
Here are some breaths that are useful for the above:
Ujjayi Breath (Ocean’s Breath)
As a cooling breath, it helps if you feel angry, stressed out or frustrated. It soothes your state of mind and quickly relaxes you.
This is a great breath before your workout. It will give you a noticeable surge of energy and your mind will be clearer.
Take a few full breaths into your belly to start.
There are a variety of breaths you can use to enhance your workouts, relax the body, and change how the mind perceives any given situation. A yoga instructor will guide you through how to work with the body and the breath. Yoga in this way is a great teacher for learning how to breathe through the many day to day stresses and physical obstacles we have to manage.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)
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