I was assessing one of my clients recently (we’ll call him Bill) discussing his current medical condition. He mentioned to me that he was going to be visiting a neurologist because of his constant dizziness. His primary physician and his cardiologist could not determine the cause and thought it best to refer him.
I am always careful to take a backseat to any doctor’s orders and encourage my clients to follow through with whatever the doctors have prescribed;
… unless the doctors have placed no immediate urgency upon further medical attention and leave the door open for alternative actions to remedy the patients circumstances while they await their appointment.
Bill is generally a very soft spoken man. As he was explaining his options to me it became very apparent that he was speaking in short choppy phrases. Bill’s breathing was unusually shallow. This carried over to his assessment exercises; shallow breathing, quick repetitions. Bill was depriving his body of oxygen and it had become a daily habit. I challenged Bill to invest one week in several breathing exercises – all of which required slow, deep and intentional breathing. After one week Bill’s dizziness completely vanished.
Are you taking the time to breathe efficiently? Are you daily oxygenating your body? Do you often feel stressed, anxious? Do you suffer from muscle tension? Do you notice a loss of stamina? Have you considered … breathing more efficiently?
Let’s find out if you are one of the millions of “shallow breathers.” Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. (Right now, all across America, people are sitting in front of their computer screens with one hand on their chest and one hand on their stomachs trying to breath naturally!) When you take a breath which hand rises first, the hand on your stomach or the hand on your chest? If the hand on your chest rises first or if its rising is noticeably greater than the hand on your stomach, you my friend are a shallow breather.
Here are some tips to efficient breathing.
- Breath deeply – practice diaphragmatic breathing.
a. Lie on your back on a flat surface or bed with your knees bent. You can use a pillow under your head and your knees for support, if that’s more comfortable.
b. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting the air in deeply, towards your lower belly.
c. Think of your lungs as a container and fill naturally from the bottom to the top. d. Tighten your abdominal muscles and let them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position.
2. Slow down. You might be thinking, “Laurie, THAT’S MY PROBLEM; IM GETTING
SLOWER!” I understand, but give purposeful deep breathing a chance. Your energy and stamina will increase.
3. If you are exercising, DO NOT ALLOW YOUR BREATHING TO BE DICTATED BY YOUR TEMPO. Allow the tempo of your repetitions to be dictated by your bodies need for oxygen.
a. Purposeful deep breathing and exhaling deeply will release carbon dioxide, provide necessary oxygen for optimal function, minimize muscle fatigue, lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, strengthen lungs and increase workout stamina.
b. Slow purposeful repetition tempo decreases the potential of injury by stabilizing your form.
c. Over one million Americans were hospitalized for weight-lifting injuries. Most of these resulted from improper form and rapid repetitions. There is a place for fast repetition weights but as we get older … that place gets a bit further in the rear- view-mirror.
4. Avoid holding your breath. Holding your breath creates stress throughout your body. This also means you should try to maintain breathing. In other words, no pause between breaths.
5. Another exercise is to lie on your stomach. Legs should be comfortably extended from your body. Cross your arms a bit in front of you so that you are able to place your forehead onto your crossed arms (this is known as the crocodile pose). The object is to force your abdominal muscles into the floor as you breathe in.
Some primary benefits of deep breathing can include:
a. Improve oxygen delivery throughout the entire body particularly the lower body
b. Lower heart rate
c. Lower blood pressure
d. Mind calmness, focus and clarity
e. Stress reduction
f. Relax muscles and release tension
g. Release endorphins
h. Improve detoxification
i. Pain relief
j. Strengthen lungs
k. Boost stamina
l. Boost digestion
m.Reduce stress hormones
It’s something we too often take for granted but it is tremendously important for daily health and daily fitness. So, Breeeeeeeeeathe!
Loads of luv’n, Laurie