Fitness Friday May 11, 2018
By SGT Thomas Canfield
Breathing is vital to well, being alive, yet no one has really taught us how to breathe. From running to stress management, different breathing techniques can enhance performance and relaxation. Benefits include decreased blood pressure, relaxed muscles, release of endorphins, decreased stress, and detoxification. It is most important to release stress which prevents chronic disease and an impaired immune system. Decreased muscle tension will prevent injury and increase physical performance as well. Here are a few types of breathing to try out.
Deep breathing, also called belly breathing, can help relax and replenish you. It can be used at home to relax or in the gym before and after a workout. In order to perform this technique, lay on your back on a mat and make yourself comfortable. Place a hand over the chest and over the belly. Inhale through the nose and draw the air into your belly allowing for your hand to rise on the belly. This will expand the rib cage and stretch the intercostal and abdominal muscles. On the exhale, breathe out through the mouth using the abdominal muscles to press the air out completely. Perform this method for 5 minutes to maximize benefits.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique to help relax tense muscles and relieve built up stress. Begin by laying on your back on a comfortable surface and start tightening the body from the toes all the way to the head. You want to engage these muscles by tensing them and not releasing until all the muscles are tense. After all muscles are tense, take one deep breath in and breathe out; releasing every tense muscle and melting into the mat. You can also do this muscle group by muscle group to relax individual muscles.
Ujjayi Breathing (Darth Vader breathing) is a great technique for post workouts. You can start by sitting or lying on your back. Take a large breath in and as you exhale open your mouth and throat wide and push the air out using your throat creating the Darth Vader effect. Perform this for 10 breaths.