Episode 33 – The greatest breathing hack you might not know about!
You’ve got gigantic workloads…
…important life responsibilities, a mammoth to do list…and it’s only Monday! When are you going to have time to address all the stress caused by the above aforementioned?
But first, why bother to alleviate stress?
Apart from making you feel tense, too much stress also induces mechanical and systemic changes in your body that affect your mental and physical self – you get overwhelmed, fatigued and over the long term, you may even get sick.
A stress-induced state forces your body to take shallow chest-first breathes thereby reducing oxygen uptake and altering your body’s natural state (this will also raise your resting heart rate and the pH of your blood).
While it’s easy to ignore the warning signs, you need to catch it early for best effect and that’s where deep breathing comes into play.
Let’s Switch on
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “switch on your core”. So what’s the deal? The core – essentially the crux of the body – stabilizes your spine and strengthens your entire body from within.
So how do you “switch on your core” through breathing?
Here’s some simple steps you can follow:
1. Take a seat or lie down
2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach
Ensure your “stomach” hand is placed just under your heart (at the bottom of the lower rib cage, between the sternal notch where your ribs end and your abs begin).
3. Breathe in through your nose…
…and allow the air to travel to the back of your throat (a bit like you’re snoring). Then feel the air travel down into your lungs
The hand on your stomach should rise and your rib cage will expand sideward as well. The other hand on your chest stays flat for the majority of the in-breath.
Follow down below for the other steps.
4. Next, breathe out through your mouth and purposely contract the stomach muscles
This will help draw the belly button towards your spine. The hand on your stomach will flatten as you breathe out. A good way to help purposely contract your stomach muscles is to shape your lips into the form of an “O” shape and then blow out. Alternatively, imagine your blowing up a balloon (using pierced lips).
5. Once you’ve mastered these steps…
Remove your hands and try it without the hand prompts. The more often you practice the more natural it’ll become.
Zone of Apposition
The space between the diaphragm and ribcage is called the Zone of Apposition (ZOA). This is of great importance for proper diaphragm function. More specifically, this region is influenced by the deep abdominals. So, when you expand and depress the lower rib cage the deep abdominal muscles (through the above steps) – it “switches on” to allow air in and out of the lungs.
Deep diaphagmatic breathing can feel a bit unnatural at first but it gets easier with practice AND it will help to eliminate any deep-seeded stress you feel. Who has time for this? Come on, take five and practice the above! Your core, overall well-being and health professional will applaud you.
-woman thank you for the photo
- Afremow, J. (2013) The Champion’s Mind. Rodale
- Chek, P. (2009) How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!
- Erhman, J. Gordon, P. Visich, P. Keteyian, S. (2003) Clinical Exercise Physiology. Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc
- Mumford, G. (2016) The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance. Parallax Press
- Sherwood, L.(2004) Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems (5th Ed.) Thomson, Brooks/Cole
Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness.
Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness. International Athlete, Elite Performance Manager for the Philippine Volcanoes rugby teams, qualified Dietitian / Nutritionist and qualified educator. Chris Everingham combines more than 10 years of experience and education together to deliver the best strategies to grow your mindset, rewire your habits and transform your life.