Breathing may be one of the only things you do every day that doesn’t seem to require any effort. But, even though you can do it without thinking, its power shouldn’t be overlooked. With a little know-how, breathing can give you a means to relax your mind and your muscles, and it can also give you extra energy for high-intensity exercise. The Washington Post interviewed several experts in sports medicine, psychotherapy, and yoga to discuss how different types of breathing can help us perform at our best:
- Calm breathing. Many yoga styles emphasize nose-breathing for its calming effects. Breathing this way can help reduce anxiety—which can cause you to partially hold your breath, tense your diaphragm, and breathe shallowly. Taking deep chest and belly breaths through your nose can help release this tension, paving the way for relaxation.
- High-energy breathing. For high-energy exercises like Bikram yoga and running, a combination of breathing through the mouth and nose can give you a boost. For example, when practicing Bikram yoga, you may breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, or breathe solely through your mouth. Quick breaths combined with slow breathes can also be effective for this type of exercise. As for running, one expert recommends that runners breathe in for two strides and out for one stride.
- No-pressure breathing. Power exercises such as weightlifting require deep, flowing breathes. If you hold your breath during a rep, there’s a risk that too much pressure will build up in your chest cavity, which can cause hernias. Breathe deeply throughout the entire rep and exhale as you reach your maximum exertion.
Source: Washington Post