How you use and control your breath is arguably the most important tool to get the most out of your spin and yoga workouts.
Breathwork is used in all types of fitness, yoga and spin included. How you use and control your breath is arguably the most important tool to get the most out of your workouts. From influencing your mental and emotional state to optimizing oxygen intake in your cardio, understanding and utilizing your breath will be a key factor to embracing your fitness journey.
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork refers to any type of breathing exercise. These exercises are normally practiced to target the improvement of mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. To begin, typically the practitioner will notice their natural breath before manipulating their breathing pattern for a desired outcome. Although there are countless styles and techniques to practice, the basic goal is to release toxins and stress when breathing out and nourish your body and mind when breathing in.
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
Many studies have been conducted to identify breathing techniques and their advantages, a popular book on this subject- Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor, explores these techniques both personally and historically. Nestor explores the effects of both nostril and mouth breathing throughout various physical pursuits.
“Mouth-breathing, it turns out, changes the physical body and transforms airways, all for the worse. Inhaling air through the mouth decreases pressure, which causes the soft tissues in the back of the mouth to become loose and flex inward, creating less space and making breathing more difficult.” (Nestor)
It takes time to train our bodies to breathe through the nose instead of the mouth, as it might seem easier to take in air this way while working out, but nose-breathing has many more benefits than mouth-breathing.
Benefits of Nose-Breathing
By breathing through your nose while working out, your body can absorb ~18% more oxygen than if you were breathing through your mouth. Try and focus on this in your next workout and see how your body feels!
“The health benefits of nose breathing are undeniable. One of the many benefits is that the sinuses release a huge boost of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays an essential role in increasing circulation and delivering oxygen into cells. Immune function, weight, circulation, mood, and sexual function can all be heavily influenced by the amount of nitric oxide in the body.” (Nestor)
Yoga and Breathwork
Yoga is similar, and most physical practices are taught around ujjayi breath, an intentional inhale and exhale in and out of the nose. The concept is to breathe slowly and deeply, lengthening the exhale, which will lower the heart rate and keep your body and mind calm. Ujjayi aids your yoga practice by building inner heat, encouraging cleansing, boosting vitality, strengthening the lungs, and so much more. Practicing ujjayi pranayama will help connect your movements with your breath to optimize physical benefits. Inhales will generally lengthen or lift your body upwards, while exhales will ground your body down or deepen your postures. Tune into these benefits next time you find your breath on your mat!
Ask Us About Your Breathing
Breathwork and the physical + emotional benefits from it span a wide range of topics. By tuning into your breath and utilizing it to strengthen your performance, you’ll find both your body and mind more at peace throughout your fitness journey. Ask us about your breathwork techniques next time you’re in-studio here at Grand Harbour Plaza!