The Art of Breathing
What would you answer when someone asks you – “Do you breathe?” I’m sure you’d be thinking – “What a nut, how can one survive without breathing?” Agreed, there is no rocket science in it, but now, what if someone asks you –”How often do you breathe properly?” Made you pause, right? One would definitely give a moment’s thought to this, in fact, one ought to. The reason for you to pause is this – that we actually do not breathe properly at all times! Almost all of us do shallow breathing by just filling the upper portion of the lungs and inflating the chest. And the shocker – that is not the correct or healthy way to breathe at all! For this, one needs to have a look at infants when they are just born. Watch them sleep. You will notice that their stomachs rise and fall after every breath, when they are asleep, and that perhaps is the most correct way to breathe. It happens when one breathes from as deep as the stomach, pushing diaphragm downward and out, in order to take in air. But again, one might ask, why to practice that, when one can simply breathe and stay alive. So, before we move on to learning correct breathing techniques, let’s note two important points about breathing: Practicing correct breathing technique regularly might help us in to take in greater volumes of oxygen, and we don’t have to stress on the importance of oxygen in our daily lives! It serves as our survival source by helping in energy production.(Glucose produced from the food we eat combines with oxygen to produce ATP – Energy) There are several other advantages too, like helping in increasing our alertness and reflexes, oxygen for detoxification, for relaxing and managing stress, controlling psychological states, and many more. Just recall the last time when you got angry and someone, perhaps an elderly person, asked you to take a deep breath. That really helped , didn’t it? Our ancestors were quite smart. They used to practice yoga as a healthy way of life. Yogic breathing exercises have been one of the most widely used relaxation exercises. The yogic breathing – “Pranayama,” is a unique method to balance the autonomic nervous system by manipulating the breath movement, while influencing psychological and stress-related disorders. In today’s world, environmental pollution, increased pace of life, psycho-social disturbances, improper eating habits, and sedentary lifestyle – all these factors have increased stress levels, and brought with them their related disorders. Well, there’s enough on the merits of yoga, to keep going on forever, but let us turn our attention to weight training and its relation to breathing now. We always keep saying, or hear it said when someone lifts weights in the gym – “Keep your core tight and breathe in.” It’s much the same old practice that you have to implement while breathing as well. Focus on the process of breathing while taking in air through nose before every rep, and exhaling it through the mouth after each rep, then repeat the whole cycle again (do keep a note of the starting position of the exercises as well). Done correctly and consistently, it will help in bringing in more concentration while using each particular muscle group, without any “Ego Lifting.” Always remember, you can lift heavy only if you have air inside. Ever wondered those trucks and lorries carrying heavy loads, how do they support that much load? Air inside the tyre tubes gives them that support. This will also make sure you minimize the chances of any injuries. How would you deadlift without even taking in air?!! So, keep lifting, and keep breathing deep!