Breathing is vital to life but learn to breathe right and you can unlock greater levels of fitness and health than ever before. Surprising as it may seem, the classic instruction to “take a deep breath” and fill the lungs with air is entirely the wrong approach if your goal is to deliver more oxygen throughout the body.
Using the right breathing techniques, you can:
– increase your exercise intensity while expending less effort and breathing less heavily
– achieve your perfect weight by suppressing your appetite naturally through correct breathing
– simulate high-altitude training to improve aerobic and anaerobic capacity
– improve your energy levels, concentration and mental focus
– become fitter and stronger
So, how do we become better at breathing? The exercise below is a good foundation to restore light, abdominal breathing.
Breathe Light to Breathe Right Exercise
To practise this exercise, it can be very helpful to sit in front of a mirror to observe and follow your breathing movements.
- Sit up straight. Allow your shoulders to relax. Imagine a piece of string gently holding you up from the top of the back of your head. At the same time, feel the space between your ribs gradually widening. Place one hand on your chest and one hand just above your navel.
- Feel your abdomen gently moving outward as you inhale and gently moving inward as you exhale.
- As you breathe, exert gentle pressure with your hands against your abdomen and chest. This should create resistance to your breathing.
- Breathe against your hands, concentrating on making the size of each breath smaller.
- With each breath, take in less air than you would like to. Make the in-breath smaller or shorter.
- Gently slow down and reduce your breathing movements until you feel a tolerable hunger for air.
- Breathe out with a relaxed exhalation. Allow the natural elasticity of your lungs and diaphragm to play their role in each exhalation. Imagine a balloon slowly and gently deflating of its own accord.
When the in-breath becomes smaller and the out-breath is relaxed, visible breathing movements will be reduced. You may be able to notice this in a mirror.
By using a simple exercise like this you can reduce your breathing movements by 20 to 30 per cent. If your stomach muscles start to contract or jerk or feel tense, or if your breathing rhythm becomes disrupted or out of control, then the air shortage is too intense. In this situation, abandon the exercise for 15 seconds or so and return to it when the air shortage has disappeared.
At first, you may only be able to maintain an air shortage for 20 seconds before the urge to breathe is too strong. With practice, you will be able to maintain an air shortage for longer periods. Remember, you are trying to create an air shortage that is tolerable but not stressful. Aim to maintain this tolerable ‘air hunger’ for 3 to 5 minutes at a time. Practising two sets of 5-minute exercises is enough to help you reset your breathing centre and improve your body’s tolerance to carbon dioxide.
When you practise the Breathe Light to Breath Right Exercise, the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood will result in certain physiological changes in the body.
- A feeling of increased warmth resulting from the dilation of blood vessels.
- A rosy red colour coming into the face.
- Increased production of watery saliva in the mouth, which is an indication that your body is going into relaxation mode and activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
All of these changes are normal and should not cause discomfort. However, if you experience dizziness or anxiety while practising an Oxygen Advantage exercise, then it is better to refrain from doing the exercise and contact an Oxygen Advantage practitioner who can establish that you are doing the exercise correctly. For a list of practitioners, please visit OxygenAdvantage.com.