This is the 9th in a series of posts exploring various breathing techniques. All of them have been momentary aids to relieve stress & tension, to re-energize, re-focus and/or just feel good.
(You can register for the corresponding video series for free here.)
The 9th technique to explore is called the recovery breath.
Whenever we did exercise at school, the advice was always “breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.”
This is backwards.
Professional long-distance cyclists, think Tour-de-France, have to breath in the most optimal way to maximize oxygen intake.
That, and take steroids.
But I digress.
The way they breathe while they’re racing up hills, for hours, days, and weeks on end, is in through their mouth and out their nose.
Because it’s quicker to breathe in through your mouth.
Your blood can start using the oxygen quicker.
It takes longer to breathe out your nose.
Your blood can use the oxygen for longer.
I’m not just spouting theory here, or regurgitating what I’ve heard.
Another sport where optimal breathing is equally necessary is squash.
I was an elite junior squash player and now I’m a coach. I even have a squash fitness website.
The next time you are in the middle of some rigorous exercise and you’re out of breath, try it.
Here’s what you need to focus on:
- When you breathe in through your mouth, it’s a short, instantaneous inhalation.
- As you breathe out through your nose, contract your abdominal muscles to maintain your structural integrity — that is, so your spine doesn’t fold, but instead, extends. This will also help push the air out in a prolonged, continuous fashion.
Focused breathing like this can have other side-benefits too, for example, weight-loss.
In the words of Farmer Burns:
“Breathing exercises alone, if done RIGHT, will make many a weak man strong and many a sick man well.”