We get a lot of lectures on why stretching is important. There are tutorials on the daily stretches that we must do if we want to keep our bodies moving smoothly, but there is a whole other ingredient that needs to be added to your stretching routine and that ingredient is “breath.” If you really want to get the most out of your stretching routine, the secret is to breathe deeply while you elongate your muscles. There is a lot of research that sides with the fact that deep breathing associated with stretching helps increase circulation which relaxes the body and allows for less buildup of lactic acid.
How to breathe. For most of us, breathing is easier said than done. Whether we have trouble slowing down to take a few deep breaths throughout the day, or we have limited time to simply sit, breathe and take in the beauty around us, having a good deep breathing session is usually the last thing on our to-do list. However, if you add stretching into the mix, you just might have better luck at tackling both of these underrated daily tasks. The key to breathing successfully while you stretch is all in the technique. To successfully combine the two, you’ll want to breathe slowly in through the nose as you ease into a stretch. Allow your chest cavity and abdomen to fill completely, much in the same way that a balloon would inflate. Then, as you push deeper into the stretch, exhale through your mouth slowly. From that point on, you can pull the air in to the back of your throat, which may lead to you making a “hmmmmm” sound. Move fluidly through the stretches as you breathe in and out.
Relaxation. For some of us, relaxing isn’t the easiest thing to do as we may feel compelled to engage in activities that keep us going nonstop seldom allowing for a break to engage in our surroundings. While the theory that a nonstop way of life is one that allows you to get a lot done, there are benefits to breathing and stretching that will actually allow you to check off that task list with much more clarity. In yoga, gurus refer to the breathing practice as “pranayama” which means “energy control” in Sanskrit. If proper breathing and concentration is adopted, one can have more control over the energy flow in the body, which naturally results in energy and clarity after an intense workout. Oftentimes we take our breathing for granted, however; a solid breathing routine can lead to enhanced health, a better attitude and a solid sense of well-being.
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