Breathing is an intuitive action that we do every minute of every day and for the majority of that time, we don’t pay any attention to it, however it’s essential for our survival.
Inhaling and exhaling is so natural to us as human that we forget how powerful it can be. When you inhale deeply, the lungs expand and the chest wall stretches, stimulating the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain down into the chest and beyond. The pressure on the vagus nerve triggers a feeling of relaxation that lasts from 15 seconds to a couple of minutes.
In yoga there is a huge focus on breathing and using movement with the breath especially in certain styles of yoga and this can translate so well to any type of sport. Most competitive sports require high levels of aerobic performance over extended periods of time so when you use breathing techniques, you can stabilises the heart rate and it induces a slowing effect. You are then able to think clearly and respond appropriately. Breathing suppresses the stress hormone cortisol and to be able to reduce this so you can concentrate will automatically give you a competitive advantage in any sport.
Shallow chest breathing promotes early fatigue, affecting rhythm, timing and inevitably speed when exercising/playing sport therefore once you becomes aware of the power of breathing patterns, its possible to use the breath to release tight muscles, to focus, increase lung capacity therefore improving performance in sport.
As a quick test, take a moment and notice how your breath. Is it short and shallow or long and deep?
One type of yogic breathing (Pranayama in Sanskrit) is known as belly breathing; take a deep inhalation through the nose. Fill the lungs from the bottom to the top while counting slowly up to 3 (it’s OK if the lungs fill quickly). Hold the breath for a slow count of 3. Then, slowly and evenly, exhale through the nose for a count of 4 or 6. Repeat this a couple of times, gradually lengthening the exhale to a count of 8.
How do you feel now?
Probably a little more relaxed and calm I bet!
What’s the reason for this?
Deep yogic breathing activates the Parasympathic Nervous System (PNS) or rest and digest response which brings the body and mind into a calm state so you can see why it’s so important for athletes.
There are a number of different types of breathing techniques (Pranayama) used in yoga:
1. Belly Breathing
2. Victorious Breath (Ujjai)
3. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)
4. Breath Retention (Kumbhaka Pranayama)
5. Skull-Shining Breath (Kapalabhati Pranayama)
To find out more: https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/importance-breath-yoga/
If you want to work on any of the above, Yoga for Muscle Recovery is on the schedule in Leeson St on Tuesdays @ 13.30 (45 mins) and Saturdays @ 09.3o & 10.30 (45mins) and is part of your membership.
My classes combine dynamic yoga flow (vinyasa style) and mobility exercises as it's all about feeling good and moving with intent and control.
It's great for active recovery especially if you just can't face another Metcon or strength session!
Each Wednesday, I will take an in-depth look into one of the benefits above and give you no nonsense, easy to understand information around it.