A lot of buzz was heard about the nasal strips that former Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome was allowed to wear in his failed Belmont Stakes race. The Belmont policy prohibiting breathing strips promptly ended when California Chrome's owner threatened to withdraw the horse from the race if the ban remained in place. Unfortunately, we'll have yet another year to wait and hope for the first Triple Crown since 1978. However, it does offer us a great opportunity to discuss an oft-neglected topic of fitness... breathing.
If you're reading this, chances are pretty good you know how to breathe and haven't felt a need for step by step instructions. Breathing is so "easy" you can do it in your sleep. And you do. All the time. In fact, I'm pretty sure you're doing it right now. However... there is a wide range of breathing techniques practiced during different activities that have a non-trivial impact on exercise, stress and overall health.
Joseph Pilates, inventor of Pilates, stated: "Above all, learn how to breathe correctly.” Yes, for those not in the know, Pilates was the brainchild of a man named, none other than, Pilates.
Pilates had a very specific breathing technique that he employed while performing his exercises in which the abdomen is contracted to help flow air to the sides and back of the rib cage. He called it "lateral breathing." Breathing became one of the six principles of the Pilates movement.
There are a myriad of respiration techniques… There’s the well-known diaphragmatic or "deep” breathing with its long and slow exhales. The lesser known "alternate nostril breathing" used by closing off one nostril with a thumb. There's the "skull shining breath" in which an extended inhale is followed by a quick exhale. And even the "Valsalva maneuver" where the exhalation is attempted with mouth and nose airways closed (this is basically not breathing).
When exercising, breathing is often considered a critical part of success. Breathing efficiently helps us improve our endurance, performance and effectiveness when we exercise. This is particularly true of those practicing Pilates, runners, yogis, and swimmers. To a lesser degree weightlifters, who have to constantly remind themselves to breathe, as it is easy to forget when lifting hundreds of pounds.
We'd love to hear from you. What breathing technique do you employ when you exercise, de-stress or go about your day? Comment on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness or tweet us at @flytefitness.
Be Flyte Fit,
Co-Founder & CEO