Column 3 - Breathing and Breathing Exercises

Original publication date: September 21, 1983

Fitness has been viewed by many, unfortunately, as being dancercise, jazzercise, aerobic dancing, and exercise done to a "stimulating" television workout. Unfortunate because many who attend such classes or watch such programs do nothing apart from the exercises they are told to do during the half hour or hour period. They still do not understand their bodies or their bodies needs. They do not eat the proper foods in the proper amounts. They do not know how to sit, walk, or stand in a way most beneficial to the body.

Let's get back to basics. Let's understand that all of the above movements are essential in becoming fit.

Becoming fit intelligently means starting from the beginning. You can't just lunge into a 10 kilometre run or a fast one hour game of squash without first conditioning your body and understanding the risks involved. You have to start at some point and then build up to the run or the game when your body is well tuned.

A good starting point is learning the most basic exercise of all. Breathing.

Breathing is the foundation of life. Surprisingly, though, most people don't know how to breathe properly even though they do it all the time.

We've been trained, largely by environment and tension, to breathe in the upper parts of our body. People don't breathe deeply in the polluted cities for fear of their health. Actually polluted air forces our lungs to work harder. It increases our lung capacity so we can deliver the proper portion of oxygen to the cells of our body.

When we tense up we tend to lock our breath inside. By doing this it becomes impossible to take in extra oxygen. If this continues over a period of time or series of movements we will wear out quickly.

If breath does not reach the lower part of our lungs the stale air and waste carbondioxide that should be exhaled, accumulates. Our cells would have a lot less oxygen when needed to perform at peak level. The results can be aches, headaches, fatigue, and poor skin and muscle tone.

To correct this breathing deficiency we, have to learn how to breathe effectively.

Lay on the floor with your knees bent and hands on your stomach. Relax. Inhale through your nose as if sniffing a fragrant flower. This allows only filtered moist air which has been properly warmed (or cooled) to enter the nasal cavities and lungs. You should feel a rise in your abdomen and lower stomach and a slight expansion of your lower back.

Gently exhale through your mouth to expel all impure air without mixing the used air with the fresh incoming air. Allow the lower stomach to sink and the back muscles to relax, while contracting the abdominal muscles until the air is spent.

This breathing should, and will, become second nature in any position, with practice. It should be performed simultaneously with every movement and exercise. You will find that breathing properly will go a long way toward improving your energy and your physical condition.

Copyright 2020 K.L. McCluskey, all rights reserved.