Shayna Schmidt | Aug. 9, 2018

By now, you’ve definitely heard your Livekick trainer reminding you to breathe during your workouts. What’s that all about, anyways?!

How you breathe can have a big impact on what you’re getting out of your workouts. “But Livekick team, you guys must be crazy, of course I know how to breathe-- it’s automatic!,” you say. Think again! Many of us actually forget the “proper” way to breathe over time. And especially when the body is under stress (i.e. during exercise), we often hold our breath as our natural response. Let’s first dive into the different types of breathing.

Nose vs. Mouth Breathing

The advantages of breathing through the nose include the fact that nose hairs are a great filtration system, the nose is a killer of viruses and bacteria (thanks to an enzyme in the mucous), and an air warmer in the winter. The smaller opening of the nose (vs. the larger one of the mouth) means the oxygen is exposed to the lung tissue for a longer time, so more is extracted. It’s also said to have a calming effect on your body! 

However, mouth breathing tends be the standard when it comes to running and other high intensity activities because it does in fact bring in more oxygen than breathing through your nose.

While there are pros to both nose breathing and mouth breathing, it depends most upon what kind of activity you’re doing and what you’re comfortable with. Sometimes it’s even a combination of both – breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Belly Breathing

Otherwise known as breathing from your diaphragm, belly breathing became popular among athletes back in the 1970s. Now it’s popular in many sports, as well as among yoga and meditation enthusiasts and also professional singers!

Belly breathing is when you breathe in slowly through your nose and start to feel your belly puff out. Think of a little baby in his crib breathing. You see his tummy completely expand when he inhales, and then shrink down when he exhales. This is the type of breathing that we’ve forgotten over time, adopting instead the less-effective “shallow” breathing from our chests and shoulders. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “The diaphragm is the most efficient muscle of breathing.” Belly breathing pulls more oxygen deeper into your lungs than chest breathing.

Don’t Forget About The Exhale

During strenuous exercise, it’s natural to start heaving and ho’ing, but focusing on your breath will get your body back to a normal state. Get control of your breathing pattern and focus on pulling as much air deep into your lungs as possible. You will get higher quality oxygen intake and just might win a sprint. One tip is that when you feel that your heart rate has jumped to an insane level, prolong your exhale. Your inhale can still be quick, but if you work on exhaling on a count of 4, your breath will start to regulate quicker. 

On that note, many of us focus only on getting air INTO their lungs! That’s only half of the equation. This is a reaction to a perception of scarcity. We panic and want the air out so we can get the next breath in fast. But in order to get the most value out of the oxygen you’re pulling into your lungs, focus just as much on the exhale. Don’t blow it out, but rather let the air out of your lungs in a controlled manner.

Post-Exercise Breath

Proper breathing can actually be as much a part of workout recovery as the workout itself. When you stop working out, your body is just starting to repair the minute tissue damage you’ve done by stressing your muscle groups. Getting a proper amount of oxygen ensures that this process happens effectively.

When working out, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and push yourself to the point of extreme panting, but try to remember that’s not necessarily the best thing for your body. If you start to feel out of breath, practice mindful breathing, no matter what type of breathing it is. Deep inhales and exhales are an essential part of fitness during and after a workout. 

Here’s our very own Livekick Yoga teacher Peter Lyons doing a basic Yoga flow and demonstrating the power of breath during exercise (be sure to follow him on social media for more Yoga flows and inspo). Plus, you'll DEFINITELY want to sign up with Peter for some Livekick Yoga sessions today so he can help you learn to maximize your workouts and also your ability to recover and be mindful, all through your breath.