In my last post, “The Right Breath for Now,” I posed a series of questions to help you observe how your breath coordinates with your movement, both during your workouts and in your yoga practice. This observation is a lifelong practice—once you get really curious about your breath, you need never be bored again! There’s always something interesting to watch, and the more you pay attention the more you’ll find fascinating subtleties in every breath.
This observation gives you baseline data about how your breath operates to support your activity. With this in hand, you’ve got a target to return toward when your breath gets out of rhythm. Keep watching!
Here are some ideas about how the breath can support you as you move in your workouts.
- Use exhalations on exertion. Let your exhalations give you some extra oomph when you are pushing, lifting, or swinging. Exhalations help you engage through your core, especially your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. These help support your spine and pelvis so you can better send power against the ground or the weight, or send power through the racquet or the club.
- If you get a side stitch, reset your breathing pattern by varying which foot hits the ground or strokes down when you start inhalation and exhalation. That is, change from right to left, or left to right. This repositions your diaphragm on impact and can alleviate the stitch.
- Use your breath to gauge exertion. At an easy warmup and cooldown effort, nasal breathing should be comfortable; at harder efforts, it may not.
- Listen to your body—literally. If your breath is loud or wheezy, ease up. Look for a regular rhythm that helps you feel controlled and steady.