Habit 46: Breathing practice
Movement can be complicated if we want it to be. We want to simplify it so we keep removing the unnecessary pieces to find the essential prerequisite for better movement. We are left with breathing.
It becomes very difficult to move well, if at all when you are not breathing properly. So we begin this movement section with a skill that can fundamentally improve our movement and lives. Practice the following breathing drills to help you feel more relaxed, more prepared to move, and able to move better.
Relaxation (minimum of 1 minute for each technique)
- Crocodile breathing – lying face down with both palms facing down and staked under forehead simply take full, deep breaths. Focus on expanding the belly in all directions, especially into the floor.
- Seated hand & belly breathing – in a comfortable seated position, place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Breathe normally but focus on making just the lower hand move while upper hand remains still.
- Timed breathing (5-5-8) – from a comfortable starting position, slowly inhale through your nose for 5 seconds. Gently hold that breath for 5 seconds. Then slowly exhale out your mouth for 8 seconds.
Movement Prep (30 – 60 seconds for both techniques)
- Box breathing – lying on your back, place bent legs on a box (or bench/couch/etc). Inhale strongly through your nose then forcefully out your mouth. Integrate the belly breathing technique into this more forceful style and position. Go for 30-60 seconds.
- In-in-in…Out-out-out – think Lamaze class here. Sniff in quickly three times through your nose then quickly exhale three times out your mouth. Pretend that you’re exhaling through a straw for more pressurization throughout your core/abs. Work up to 30 seconds of this breathing style.
Strengthening (minimum of 30 seconds for each technique)
- Crocodile breathing plus weight – same style and method of breathing from above #1 Crocodile breathing except this time place a small weight (no more than a few pounds) on your lower back. This added weight will require more effort to expand your diaphragm muscle and help strengthen your core muscles.
- Hollow breathing (from a Hands & Knee position) – this exercise is focused on squeezing and contracting your core muscles to pull your belly-button up into your spine. Breathe in and out through your nose the whole time. Try to get 10 breathes or go for 30 seconds.
- Hollow breathing (from Standing position) – same focus and #7 but this time there is a greater challenge from a standing position. Same idea, squeeze the belly-button in towards the spine. You can place your fingers on your sides to help feel the contraction. Again, 10 breathes or 30 seconds
Practice each category for 5-10 minutes each day. Work up to getting all 9 exercises each day.