Basic breathing: remember Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid (1984), “Don’t forget to breath. Very Important.” In any stressful situation, you may forget simple things, like breathing. So, By training your body to get enough oxygen, you can prevent hyperventilating. It won’t matter if you need air in an intense workout, or a life threatening situation.
Basic Breathing Deeply
First, let’s focus on the inhale. Begin by gently inhaling through your nose, completely filling your diaphragm (abdomen). Continue inhaling until you completely fill you chest as well. Hold the fresh air for a moment before you begin exhaling.
Exhaling to Activate Your Diaphragm
Next, focus on warming up your diaphragm by forcing all of the air from your body in a short burst. To make this work, imagine blowing out all the candles on a very large cake in one quick blow.
Exhaling to Expel Carbon Dioxide
You may notice that activating your diaphragm also makes you feel a little more energetic. The sudden exhale causes your body to release a little bit of adrenaline. Comparatively, releasing the breath slow and deliberate allows your body to naturally push all Carbon Dioxide (CO2) out. The air releasing from your mouth should make a soft signing sound.
Correspondingly, you should also allow your shoulders and neck to relax as you exhale. Your other muscles will learn to relax as you practice more advanced techniques.
Because CO2 buildup causes you to feel out of breath, learning to expel all of it helps you breath easier. Additionally, it helps your body feel cleaner and more relaxed. Yoga practitioners (yogi) make this a central focus of their practice, however, there are more techniques to learn.
Breathing Tension and Release
The next breathing technique involves a little bit of muscle control. Start by taking a deep breath with your mouth open. Inhale to fill your diaphragm and lungs like you learned before, but, as you finish filling, hold your breath. Then, consciously tense/flex every muscle you can throughout your entire body. Next, hold your lungs full and your body tense for anywhere from about five to ten second. Finally, release your breath, allowing your muscles to relax as you do.
You will feel like a deflated balloon the first couple of times. However, the relaxation you begin to feel as you perfect this technique can be used anywhere. Likewise, as you become more aware and able to control your muscles, you will also notice a deeper calm as well.
Combat Breathing (Box Breathing)
“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training”Dave Grossman, Lt Col (US Army, Retired)
In high stress situations, training yourself to breathe allows you to remain calm and collected. In the spirit of the quote from Lt Col Grossman, you should train yourself to do this instinctively. To do that, whenever you find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a moment and do the following exercise.
First, begin counting as you inhale for four counts, making an effort to completely fill your diaphragm and lungs. Then, hold it for four counts. Next, release your breath for four counts, trying deliberately to empty your diaphragm and lungs without forcing the breath out. Now hold your lungs empty for four more counts. Finally, repeat the whole process for three more repetitions.
This 4×4 breathing technique causes your body to focus on the sudden rush of oxygen to your system. The stress hormones will be pushed aside to handle the change, and you can feel the difference in your mental clarity.
Now, take a deep breath, and let me know what’s on your mind below.