How to Breathe For Yoga and Ways to Breathe Better

TAKE A BREATH

Think you know how to breathe properly simply because you’ve been doing it since you were born? Think again. Athletes have known for eons that breathing techniques must be taught. For starters, the most performance-boosting breathing methods change depending on the sport – you’ll need a different breathing rhythm for running, yoga and swimming, for example. Breath training has recently come to the fore as one of the top ways for athletic types to boost speed, endurance and strength. Want in on the rewards? Read on to find out how.

BELLY BREATH

For all sports, you need to breathe deeply. Shallow (chest) breathing can lead to increased heart and breathing rates. Breathing deeply oxygenates muscles to work harder and more efficiently. Aim to use a belly breath by imagining the in breath filling your lower abdomen – the diaphragm relaxes down and your lungs expand. You can practise this by placing your hand on your stomach and feeling it expand and contract as you breathe in and out.

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IN TUNE

Next, find the right breathing rhythm for your activity. Runners suggest inhaling for a count of three, exhaling for two, which trains you to alternate your exhale from the right to left foot as your run. When strength training, many recommend exhaling as you push against the weight and inhaling at the top of the lift or when lowering the weight. Find a rhythm that works for you and your sport.

ROLL WITH IT

Want to reduce stiffness and boost your performance? A foam roller is the go-to piece of recovery kit exercise that aficionados can’t do without. The self-massage tool is always in high demand on the gym floor, a common piece of home equipment, and has recently inspired a new breed of recovery classes such as Stretch & Foam Roll in the US. But despite its popularity post workout, new research shows it may be most effective at the start of a sweat session. According to researchers from the University of Stirling in Scotland, foam rolling readies the body for exercise without diminishing muscle strength in the way that static stretching might. The scientists got 16 volunteers to perform a leg extension exercise and found that it took less effort to complete the exercise after two minutes of foam rolling than after a two-minute rest. The take-home message? Roll before you sweat.

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