I hear frequently from people who have tried the breathing
exercises I teach.
Sometimes they have questions on how to do them, to make sure they
are getting the details right.
Most of the time, they write me about how much better they feel
after trying the exercises or techniques just once or twice…and
how they feel a tremendous difference in their emotions and
I received an email the other day that helps emphasize an important
point: the importance of balancing hard with soft.
I am a 50 year old female who has done high impact step aerobics
for more years than I can remember. In the last year I have been
experiencing a funny feeling in my lungs…sorta like a “beat up”,
“wiped out” feeling in my lungs when I do high impact anything.
Anyway I think I’m on to something. I think I’ve figured out I’ve
been breathing all wrong…like through my mouth all these years
and I think it’s caught up with my lungs.
In your programs and tips, you emphasize the benefits of breathing
through your nose….Just today I tried to do an hour’s high
impact class only breathing through my nose. It was so hard to
pull it off but I did it. Low and behold…my lungs didn’t hurt
after class and I was able to do the entire class. So would you
agree that mouth breathing is wrong during exercise and nose
breathing is correct? Any advice?
KVN: Mary, you’ve hit on two important points about breathing,
and exercise in general.
First point: there is no “right” or “wrong” way to breathe that
is universal. Your breathing will depend on what is going on
around you, as well as in your body.
Sometimes breathing through your mouth is required, as when you
are doing a specific type of breathing technique or exercise.
But generally speaking, yes it is better to breathe as much as
possible through your nose. I have made this point so many
times, I won’t repeat all the “why’s” for this.
It can be tough to breathe only through your nose when exercising
vigorously. In fact, if you are pushing yourself hard you may
have to pant and gasp for air once in awhile. But this should
be the exception, and only happen for a few seconds as you
recover from a particulary demanding part of your workout.
What Mary experienced is one of the advantages of attending to
your breathing during exercise and using it as a tool.
Breathing primarily through your nose during a workout ensures
you are breathing more deeply into your lungs with every breath,
so your body gets more of the oxygen it needs for energy, and
the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange is better regulated.
Breathing in rhythm to your movements helps you move more
powerfully and better control your energy levels. You get into
a better “tempo”, which is one of the keys to a successful and
enjoyable training session.
You also recover more quickly from the high intensity portion
of your workouts.
Second, we all need to balance our hard, “impact” style training
sessions with “softer”, more internally oriented breathing
For example, doing aerobics is fine, although many programs do
not include interval training to the extent they should. But
you should balance this type of training with more controlled,
slower breathing and energy exercises, like the ones I teach.
Trust me, I used to bang away at the impact stuff myself. In
my case, it was traditional, hard core Tae Kwon Do and Karate,
with some full-contact kickboxing mixed in.
It took me quite some time to discover this…but I eventually
found that my level of training, skills, and sheer enjoyment
of martial arts increased tremendously when I began to focus
on and cultivate my breathing.
This is one reason why I am so passionate about sharing my
approach, Dynamic Energy Exercise, with you. Because I have
made the transition to a balanced approach myself.
Congratulations Mary for coming to your own understanding about
this. Self-discovery is the most important kind!
You Can Do It!
P.S. You can learn more about the breathing and dynamic energy
techniques I teach at the Best Breathing Exercises website.
For example, the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course,
Volume II includes a series of breathing and energy exercises
that actually build lung power and stamina, as well as send your
energy levels soaring. For more information, or to order your
own copy, click here.
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2010