Since learning to slackline, I’ve never been more obsessed with controlling my breath: breathing in to the diaphragm deliberately, or the chest cavity, or both. It is phenomenal to feel in control of your breath, especially when it helps you get past some kind of fear or energy block within, or even heal an injury. But that’s another story.
Today I played with the idea of aggressive inhalation; breathing in with force, energy and intent, rather than channeling all of that into a strong exhalation. Often in the realms of sports, physical disciplines like martial arts or even pseudo-science areas like stress management, we are taught to channel energy, or attach a sense of ‘release’, to our out-breaths. It works. However, the only situation I’ve noticed where this method doesn’t work so well, is when you’re puffing out of your arse from exhaustion. Come and do one of the Hybrid Conditioning sessions down at Locker 27, and I guarantee your diaphragm will be a’flappin’! Struggling for air after these conditioning rounds led me to explore the idea of controlling one’s recovery speed.
Watch this video of legend Rickson Gracie below – look out for the clip where he runs stairs, then feels his pulse in his neck and times his recovery process. Pay attention to how he breathes:
What did you notice? Did you seen how much he flared his nostrils, sucked in that recovery gas, and let the exhalation breath happen naturally, instead of trying to force the exhalation?
This inspired me to test this idea out. Today, I did 5 x 2 minute rounds of No-Gi grappling – one of the best ways to induce that crippling sense of lack of oxygen. Come rest time, I checked my pulse, and began aggressive in-breaths. I had 60 seconds to lower my heart rate, and I managed to do it by focusing on one strong inhalation at a time.
I recommend you try this method for recovery; breathe in as hard as you can, but not until your lungs are full. Then exhale as you relax your ribcage, chest and diaphragm. Repeat with a rhythm.
So where else is this method applicable? As a circuit breaker? As a de-stressor? As a yogic/mobility breathing cadence? I’d say all of them. Next time you feel fear and the butterflies start rising, breathe in aggressively. Next time you get pulled over by the Police and get fined, breathe in aggressively. Next time you’re warming up before your workout, you guessed it…
Harry Cloudfoot is the balance guy; a slackline instructor based in London, he teaches all people of all abilities the art of balance.
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