Mar 27, 2013

Inhale, Exhale

Sometimes we can get so overwhelmed throughout the day, we can forget to just breathe. Many of us, especially when we are stressed, tend to take shallow, quick breaths. Deep breathing signals your brain to slow down. It slows our heart-rate, lowers blood pressure, and results in positive hormonal and physiological changes. Learning to breath correctly helps our bodies cope with stress and can bring us some peace on a hectic day.

Throughout my fitness classes I continuously encourage my students to inhale and exhale. When we inhale, air moves to the lungs and transfers to the bloodstream where it's then distributed throughout the body. The amount of air your lungs can process is a large factor in determining your fitness condition. The faster the lungs can convert air to the blood stream and to the muscles, the more conditioned we become. Breathing properly to oxygenate our bodies during our fitness routine is essential.


During exercise, the inhale and the exhale typically falls either on the expansion or the contraction of the muscle. In a cardio workout we want to breath as naturally as possible. If we are doing a weight bearing exercise, the exhale should be on the exertion (the hardest part of the exercise). For example, in a push-up inhale on the way down (the expansion) and exhale on the way up (the contraction). However, in yoga or stretching, we should inhale with the movement. When we exhale we should relax and sink deeper into the stretch or position. Regardless of how you are breathing during your fitness routine, just keep breathing! Holding your breath can result in light-headedness, nausea, and even fainting. Eeek!
We need to pay attention to proper breathing not only during our fitness routines, but also throughout the day. To practice how to breath properly (through the diaphragm) I want you to take 3-5 deep breaths before you go to bed at night. Lay on your back and place your hands on top of your stomach. With each inhale feel your stomach rising. Hold it for a second or two and as you exhale feel your stomach sink back towards the bed. As you exhale make sure you get all of the excess air out. Not only will this help with sleeplessness, but we will train our bodies to take deeper breaths. We can also do this throughout the day when we need a second to breathe.

Breath is so important for optimal health and wellness. When we take deep diaphragmtic breaths, it helps to achieve an immediate sense of well being and peace. Repeat after me, "Inhale, Exhale." Now, how easy is that?

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