It is amazing to see the fitness world rally to be a light during dark times. We are here asking, how are you doing? Right now, we want to encourage you to breathe.
Amidst unknown future, during anxious thoughts, with potentially scary financial situations - breathe.
Below we talk about the science of breath, but if that is too much for today, practice some box breathing and come back to the article later.
Repeat as many times as you want.
Why breathwork matters
The nervous system controls every movement and behavior in your body. The nervous system can be categorized into either the central nervous system or the peripheral nervous system. Within the peripheral nervous system there’s the somatic system and the autonomic system. Within the autonomic system consists of the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system is the body’s response to a threat, “fight or flight” while the parasympathetic nervous system helps to conserve energy, “rest and digest”. Your breath has a large impact on engaging either the parasympathetic or sympathetic system. To encourage the parasympathetic nervous system to turn on while breathing, you want to practice deep belly breathing as opposed to shallow chest breathing.
Research shows that as you practice slow, deep, intentional breathing (engaging the parasympathetic system), you will experience:
- Decreased feelings of anxiety
- Decreased feelings of depression
- Increased body relaxation
- Improved immune system
- Increased energy levels
Stepping into an unprecedented reality, our levels of stress are likely higher than usual. Remember fundamentals like breathing help to stay grounded.
There are a few ways to practice deep belly breathing. Below describes setting up for diaphragmatic breathwork:
- Lay on your back
- One hand on your chest and one on your belly
- Inhale focusing on lifting the hand on your belly
- Exhale and feel your belly hand drop toward your spine
As you are more aware of your breath, you can utilize this during sessions with clients. Help clients to relax before or after a training session with diaphragmatic breathing. You could even combine box breathing (breath count) with diaphragmatic breathing.
Intentional breathing helps with lifts. Coaching a client to inhale at the top of an exercise increases intrathoracic pressure before the exercise begins. As they start to contract, have them exhale in a slow, controlled manner to maintain core engagement.
You can’t control your environment but you can control your response.