by Jenn Gladwin
In part two of this three-part blog series, I’m revealing ways to help improve your play, no matter your sport or activity level.
Part 2: Use Your Breath
In many yoga classes, Pilates classes and even weight lifting sessions, breath is oftenemphasized. Every movement is coordinated to a breath, inhale this, exhale that. While we have a vague understanding of its importance, sometimes we don’t quite get the point of the breath and why it matters so much.
Both part 1 and 2 of this blog point back to the same idea. Your core is your center. It’s where everything comes together, everything works together, it’s where all of your energy is stored. And when you breathe, you are actually using your core!
When I ask most of my clients to inhale, they think of pulling air in through their nose or mouth (a throwback to part one, we usually start our actions from our head. Read it here) In truth, your nose has nothing to do with it! Your nose and mouth are simply holes that the air can pass through.
When you breathe, you are actually using core muscles to expand your chest capacity. Several muscles including your diaphragm work together to pull open the space inside your ribs. By physics, the air rushes to fill that new space created. And when you exhale, you are using those same muscles to take the space away, and by physics, pushing the air out. Breathing is a core workout!
Just like doing crunches or planks to help create brain connections to your core, we also must practice our breath to create those same pathways. Here is the most amazing part…Once we have control of those muscles that open and close our chest cavity, those same muscles also help us to move. THIS is why we coordinate our movements to our breath. When we have this control, we can be most efficient with the symphony of muscles working together in our core to help us move.
Having control of your breath is one of the greatest keys to a happy healthy life. As we become aware of our breath and our movements, we notice how every aspect of our lives is affected and can be effected by our body and breath.
Here is an exercise to help you make connections to your breath.
Sit or stand, doesn’t matter.
Close your eyes.
As you inhale, imagine creating space around your heart. From the top to the bottom, all the way around, through the back and front and down into your belly.
As you exhale, imagine taking that space away. Imagine embracing your heart from all sides, front to back, top to bottom.
Continue this visualization for each breath, notice when you start to think about your nose and refocus back to your center. Continue for as long as you like. Remember, this exercise is building muscle control. It should feel pretty nice in your brain after a while too, getting all the oxygen in there can really lighten up the mood! As you continue and your core gets stronger, you will notice a sound like a ventilator (or like Darth Vader) coming from your body. That’s the key sound. Work on keeping it as long as possible.
Jenn Gladwin teaches swimming, “Core Camp”, and leads an adult swim workout at Maui Country Club. Learn more about Jenn www.getgladmaui.com. For exercises and more tips on how to Connect to your Core, email Jenn at GetGladMaui@gmail.com.