Something I meant to ask you in the gym today, but didn’t have the time.
Do you have a good book you’d recommend on breath control? I already do some exercises throughout the day to mitigate stress, but I’d be interested in how that might be expanded into the kettlebell/fitness world, for better performance.
This was an email from one of my regular members, he asked about breathing during his training and we meant to go into depth on it before he left, but i got busy and we both forgot.
Thankfully, he emailed later that day.
The following is an expanded version of my response to him.
I’m sure there are many resources on breathing, although most of what I teach I’ve learned in person from various instructors.
In WG at the moment we are currently playing with the Buteyko method of breathing. The guy we learned from is Galway based Patrick McKoewn, he has several books on offer, all of which are available on Amazon. I plan on writing on our experiences with the Buteyko method soon, now that myself and several of my closest members have played with it for a while..
Other breathing work I do comes largely from my Martial Arts practice which included Chi Gung and Meditative type work. I’ve written about these in previous blogs, use the search bar to pull them up.
Here’s a bit of Chi Gung:
In essence, all the various methods boil down to the same set of principles:
The Exhale should be longer than the inhale.
The inhale should occur by way of the nose.
The breath should by drawn in by the lowering of the diaphragm AND the expansion of the chest, not one or the other.
The diaphragm is the primary driver of the breathing, the chest movement secondary.
In the training environment, you’ll often hear me yelling “Big Breaths” at people. And of course explaining in more normal tones why. We utilise the exhale to trigger a reflexive inhale, and on high rep work, such as bodyweight and kettlebell drills, we utilise multiple exhales per single repetition to maintain relaxation in the body and enhance endurance.
Upon finishing a set, we keep the same exhale focused breathing going to help restore the the body to near homoeostasis as quickly as possible.
The quicker we can recover, the quicker we can resume activity, and if you’re in any way competitive, you shouldn’t need told how important that skill is!
As for linking the mind to the breath to manage stress, we have to take a quick look at the central nervous system (CNS)
The CNS has two sides: Sympathetic – the “GO” pedal, high activity, adrenalin, stress, fight or flight, getting shot done….. Parasympathetic – the “CHILL” pedal, rest, recovery, relaxation, sleep, repair…..
The INHALE corresponds with the sympathetic. The EXHALE corresponds to the parasympathetic.
In modern life we are under a constant stream of low level stressors which constantly stimulates the sympathetic side and prioritises our inhale. Hence the tight shoulders, high chest breathing and open mouths (look around the office or on the commute for evidence of this)
And it works.
Buteyko tends to emphasise minimising the inhale rather than maximising the exhale, but the net result is about the same.
So there you go, you now have the recipe to breathe yourself better and also to understand pretty much every yoga/pilates/tai chi/hippy/tree hugger/life coach that comes your way….
Oh, and go here, I searched my own blog for the term breathing and a load of old posts popped up: http://wg-fit.com/wp/?s=breathing
If you have a question you’d like to “ask Dave” about, please drop me a line, I’m always up for questions.
Dave Hedges www.WG-Fit.com