The other day, I was coaching a new client and teaching her how to do a slow incline mountain climber. She could not feel anything doing the exercise; she felt that it was too easy. We took a step back and I asked her to simply breathe normally. That quickly answered why she did not feel anything.
When breathing, the only thing moving was her chest, nothing else. That means that she was not doing diaphragmatic breathing. With all of the stressors going on in our lives, we have forgotten how to breathe deeply. A lot of what we see is people breathing from the chest, which means that their breath is very shallow.
Why is breathing so important you may ask? Besides the obvious that, if you are not breathing it means that you are dead. The main reason why your breathing is so important is that it is directly connected to your heart rate. The faster you breathe, the faster your heart rate will be; the slower you breathe, especially when exhaling, your heart rate will slow down and the more irregular your rate of breathing is, the more irregular your heart rate will be; makes sense?
You may want to exercise more and push your body more in order to remain healthy but that is not the only part of the equation. Remember the STRESS + REST = SUCCESS formula? It still applies! It is important to spend time focusing on your breathing, even if it does sound too easy for you. You can do this while looking at a clock and breathe in 5 seconds, hold your breath 1 second and then breathe out 5 seconds. To help with this exercise, you can use an app that gives you the rate at which you can breathe to relax or you can go even further and use an app that also measures your heart rate at the same time.
This does not stop there. While you are working on your breathing, you can also start visualizing positive movement patterns or visualize what makes you get into the zone before a workout, a race or a competition or even work. It is interesting how when I focus on a computer screen or am feeling stressed, how my breath becomes irregular…your mind does not know the difference between visualization and real life so it’s almost like practising your exercises without stressing your body. It can help you minimize stress at work as well. Personally, this kind of exercise including both breathing and visualization has helped me connect more to my body and has helped me go through many obstacles.
Try working on your breathing, five minutes a day, two or three times a week for two months and keep a journal. Pay attention to how you are feeling before and after you have spent time on breathing. How is your heart rate? Do you feel you can control it? Do you feel emotionally better after? How about physically?
Looking forward to hearing from your experiences at doing this exercise on a regular basis. Keep breathing and listen to your heart. Heart rates never lie.