It is shocking, but nowadays very few people have proper breathing habit. How do I know that? Well, Patrick McKeown describes it very well in his book “The Oxygen Advantage”. It is a handy book for increasing sports performance or improving focus, sleep and energy levels. I differently recommend it. Here I will give you my perspective on the topic and some of his advice as well.
Alright, what is there so important that I am missing out, you might ask. The answer is simple “To breathe right you need to breathe light”, this is a simple quote from the book. That means that to breathe optimally you need to be calm, breathing at a slow pace. The crucial element here is to use your nose, instead of your mouth, period. Also important is to be aware of your breathing, try to monitor yourself for a moment.
Do you breathe with your belly or with your lungs?
If the second one is your answer you might want to practice the vice versa. The reason is simple, your diaphragm is more significant than your lungs. That helps you to slow down your pace of breathing and by doing it you bring more awareness to the process as well. That has significant benefits if you manage to build the habit. It is going to boost your energy levels, concentration and sleep. Your entire thought process improves dramatically. The hidden element here is CO2, or carbon dioxide. It is the element which as Patrick McKeown describes it his book, helping oxygen to reach the muscle cells. For further explanation, you might want to check the Bohr’s effect.
I have practiced sports for long years and everybody who has done so knows how hard is sometimes to catch a breath. And you feel like puking, you are slow and tired you want to stop. Just the tempo of your workout is too much, slow down. Try to hold your breath as you relax and take a short break. I am not your parent to tell you to stop smoking.
Especially when you are trying to compete. Our oxygen capacity is limited, however, we may work on increasing it. I have always tried to normalize my breathing in those moments, right after you can’t catch a breath anymore. And what I mean by that is getting a slight breath holds when your heart is pounding and you are desperate for more oxygen. That is increasing your oxygen capacity. Running has always been linked to that. The classic example is Rocky preparing for the next fight, running with five layers of clothes and climbing some hills. Which also makes it hard for you to breath.
If you are looking to improve your breathing now start running and try meditation. Meditation is a different topic that I want to describe in a different post, however, it has enormous benefits for the mind and body. It takes time to get on track, but it indeed is worth it the investment. This is a solid guide on how proper breathing works and there is much more detailed information in his book.