The Power Within. Your Breath. This incredible healing tool that we all have, but we just might not be aware of how to use it. Cheryl Coppa, a core specialist, and Sabrina Marr, a yoga instructor, provide advice on how to enhance your breathing from a few different perspectives
By Cheryl Coppa
I have not always practiced and appreciated the power of our breathing. For those of us that need to feel like we are doing something and have a hard time slowing down, we don't give this powerful tool a real opportunity. But I have to tell you that after taking the time to learn different techniques that are really simple have been so powerful while incorporating them into my training and programs.
Are you a Shallow Breather? What is Happening When you Inhale, do Your Shoulders Raise?
Your body really is a healing machine and we are more equipped than we know. Your breathing patterns can determine if you are high anxiety, or anxious or it can determine if you are calm and in control. Many of us fall into this shallow breathing pattern where we inhale through our chest and shoulders. Check for yourself, what is happening when you inhale, do your shoulders raise and chest lift? If so, this is shallow breathing. This actually triggers your fight-or-flight response. So it’s no wonder why so many of us live in a constant state of anxiety.
Use the one Breathing Technique That Will Save you From Hernias and PF Dysfunctions
A breathing pattern we should all know is the 360 breathing pattern or The Core Breath. This would mean when you inhale, your core expands. Every time you inhale, your belly will expand, your pelvic floor relaxes, your rib cage opens out to the side, and on your exhale everything will draw in together. Breathing this way connects your core, allowing you to transfer energy easily from the upper to your lower body without injury. Using this breathing in your daily life and fitness routines will save you from hernias, pelvic floor dysfunctions, and core dysfunctions.
We have a Core and Pelvic Floor restoration program built around this technique.
The Box Breathing Technique to Help Keep you Calm
Another technique I like is Box Breathing. This in particular is helpful in high-anxiety situations to help calm and regulate your mind and body. It's very simple as well. You just breathe in a box pattern. This would mean inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 4 seconds, exhaling your mouth for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds. You can change the patterns as desired. For example, it could be an 8-second pattern you follow. The navy seals use this breathing technique regularly in their training and job to remain calm.
"No wonder why so many of us live in a constant state of anxiety. We fall into this shallow breathing pattern where we inhale through our chest and shoulders. ", Cheryl Coppa, Core Specialist
Once you tap into the power of your breath and make this connection within, you will find the healing and control this gives you. You can even use your breath to target tight muscles from within. Ever feel tight in your back and you just can't reach it with a stretch?
Here I am sitting on a yoga block arching forward. When I am sitting this way I am able to transfer my breath into my back to expand and release tight back muscles, sometimes I’ll even hear a crack. When you inhale most of your breath will transfer to the back since you are holding this position. Think about breathing into your back as well.
If you Practice Yoga You're Encouraged to Engage in the "Victorious" Breath
Yoga instructor, Sabrina Marr, shares a couple of her favorite breathing techniques. Sabrina has an even deeper appreciation for breath work as it is a core practice in yoga. Anyone who has taken one of Sabrina’s classes can attest to the peace and power they find when they practice with her.
"As a rule of thumbs, inhale is for an active movement, and exhale is for stretching. If you try to go deeper in a stretching pose, you may notice that when you exhale you can go a little further." Sabrina Marr, Yoga Instructor
By Sabrina Marr
Breathing in yoga is just as important as doing the poses. So much so that yoga instructors are trained to call out each inhale, and exhale to help students synchronize movement to breathing. You may have noticed your instructor saying something like this during yoga class: Inhale, arms up. Exhale, fold forward. As a rule of thumbs, inhale is for an active movement, and exhale is for stretching, and if you try to go deeper in a stretching pose, you may notice that when you exhale you can go a little further.
During yoga practice, students are encouraged to engage in the so-called Ujjayi (translated as ‘victorious”) breath, which is also the most common form of pranayama (breath control) used during asana (body pose) practice. If done properly, Ujjayi breath can help with concentration and finding the right balance between energizing practice and relaxation.
Check out the video to learn how to practice Ujjayi breath.
Another Yoga Breath to Promote Well-Being - Alternate Nostril Breathing
While the Victorious Breath is being used mostly during practice, Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is used as its own pranayama practice and can help relax body and mind as well as reduce anxiety and promote overall well-being. To practice alternate nostril breathing: Take a few deep breaths, relax, and exhale completely. Then use the right thumb to close the right nostril. Inhale through the left nostril and then close the left nostril with your ring or index finger. Both nostrils are blocked. Hold for a few counts. Open the right nostril and exhale through this side. Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril. Hold for a moment. Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
This is one cycle. Alternate breathing can be done before or after yoga practice, or literally anytime and anywhere, when you need it, and when you have five minutes to spare. I like to do it at night before I go to bed. It helps me sleep better. it can also help in situations in which anxiety may arise, but of course remember, regular and steady practice is necessary to see the best results.
About Core Specialist, Cheryl Coppa
✔️ A certified Core Confidence Specialist (Pre & postnatal fitness, pelvic Floor, diastasis)
✔️ A certified Personal Trainer specializing in women's fitness over 40
✔️ Low-Pressure Fitness / Hypopressive certified by creator Dr. Tamara Rial
✔️ Pre/Postnatal Fitness Specialist
✔️Instructor of the Pelvic Floor Health program, Ola Ka Ola
About Yoga Instructor Sabrina Marr
A certified RYT 500 and a passionate yoga instructor with diplomas from Zen Den Yoga School in Florida and the Yoga Foundation in India. Sabrina Marr grew up in the Swiss Alps and has been dedicated to a healthy lifestyle from an early age. As an elite athlete, competing in the Gymnastics World Championships, she focused on the physical, mental and emotional components needed to achieve the serenity to compete at the highest levels. Now she shares her knowledge with you.