There are 3 ways to breathe:

  1. In through the nose and out through the nose;
  2. In through the nose and out through the mouth; and
  3. In through the mouth and out through the mouth.

There is also two different locations of where the breath enters and leaves the body:

  • Chest
  • Belly / Stomach

Now the biggest question is which is effective? Which maximises results? And I have already stated in the title that there are 2 optimum ways to breathe, and when:

  • In through the nose and out through the nose (i.e. Diaphragmatic Breathing) at rest or aerobic intensity.
  • In through the nose and out through the mouth (i.e. ‘Pilates Breathing’) during exercise.

But before we jump straight in to another level of detail, let me share with you the importance of nose breathing. The nose is where air has the opportunity to be filtered in the lungs. Through the mouth and it does nothing (our digestive fluids only munches down on tangible food, sorry)

1) Diaphragmatic Breating

When do you ‘diaphragmatic breath’?
  • Whilst sitting or moving, within aerobic pace.
  • During meditation
  • When you sleeeeeeeppppp

This is where air is maximise by the use of the diaphragm. The diaphragm’s duty is to pull air into the lungs.

This is probably the closest GIF I can find to show the belly pulling the diaphragm downwards
How do you Diaphragmatic Breathe?

How do you breathe into your belly? Good question, try these steps:

  • First, use the palm of your hands and rest it on your belly, where the button is.
  • Put the other across your chest.
  • Take a huge deep breath into the nose.
  • If you’re not used to it the belly may rise but very little and the chest may lift.
  • Try again a few times, you’ll start to notice that you will relax too.
Why is Diaphragmatic Breathing Important?

Let’s bullet point this:

  • It takes anyone off flight or fight mode instantly (by one BIG breath). This is often seen on tv or by the roadside when someone starts to hyperventilate and panic, they are usually calmed down by another person telling them to take a deep breath.
  • Kicks start the vagus nerve instantly, activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Improve heart rate, reduces stress, anxiety and promotes better sleeping habits (and the rest of health benefits etc etc). More in my future posts.

2) Pilates Breathing

When do you ‘Pilates breath’?
  • During exercise above aerobic pace just before anaerobic pace (i.e jogging or walking fast)
  • During pilates
  • Pretty much when you’re going a little more out of your comfort zone to move

This breathing is recommended as not only it filters the air but also works into your inner core muscles by the contraction of your exhalation. This is a bonus of killing two birds with one stone.

Ok just note that the GIF is slightly off because I couldn’t find an image where the person breathes out through their mouth…
How do you ‘Pilates Breathe’?
  • Wrap both palms around your ribs like a pretend corset
  • Take a deep breath into the nose
  • Direct the air into the ribs to expand and push the palms out
  • Breathe out through the mouth
  • Let the ribs collapse
Why is Pilates Breathing important?
  • Maximises your workout via the breath. This includes shaping your inner core muscles which isn’t just essential for your physical muscles on the outside, but also protects your organs on the inside
  • Relaxes part(s) of your body in the places they need while exercising. For example, while running the breath will stimulate and relax the shoulder, neck and face (since they are not doing the running…)
  • Adding to the point above, you’ll relief yourself from your stability joints such as lower back, knee, and elbow issues when you breathe (see my previous post about those joints).

Concluding my post, we human beings slowly lose our way of breathing meaningfully as we grow older so it is quite crucial to be reminded again about the simplicity and wonderful benefits we reap when we listen, focus and be in tune with our breath.

The breath is the essence to our existence. The breath allows us to live.

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