The Importance Of Breathing
The key to staying alive is breathing. Circulating oxygen through the lungs is the primary job of our heart. Oxygen rich blood is then transported to the brain, and rest of our body, allowing us to go about our daily lives.
What happens if we don’t breathe? The simple answer is we die. On a lesser note, we just don’t function as well as a whole. Ever hear of sleep apnea? That condition where a person intermittently stops breathing in the middle of the night. People who suffer from this condition have a long list of problems ranging from, extreme fatigue, muscle pain, the inability to focus and weight gain.
All these things happen just from not breathing correctly. Now what happens when you’re in training or a fight? If you have been training long enough you know how bad your performance gets once you get tired.
For the uninitiated, when you work out your body burns fuel, turns it to lactic acid. Which increase the carbon dioxide levels in your blood? As those levels rise, the Medulla located in your brain stem tells the heart to speed up. The heart speeds up, more blood is pumped through your lungs, allowing for gas exchange at the alveoli level.
Depending on what your cardio levels are and how good your carbon dioxide tolerance is will determine how you feel while engaging in activity. Once the athletes body surpasses these two levels of tolerance they will notice a few things.
The first and most noticeable will be reaction time. Your eyes will see the threat, but the body will be sluggish to respond. Next motor coordination will be affected. If you are sparring you might notice your feet don’t want to move the way you want them too.
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There is a horrid feeling once you have reached your cardio limit, while in the ring. Your eyes will instantly start looking for the round timer. Your brain wants out of the round. You start taking unnecessary punishment, even in training because your body is no longer trying to be competitive, your body is just trying to survive.
How does one prevent this from happening? The first option is condition often and train often. This is known by just about every serious athlete in all sports. You want to be better? Train more.
There is something else, something more important than training, and most people overlook it. Why? Because everybody thinks they know how to do it, yet in reality not many really do. What is it?
BREATHING! Every person does it, or else like mentioned before they would be dead. When someone is mad, we often hear them being told “Hey just breathe”. Well if they weren’t already breathing, they would be purple or unconscious.
So we often we get told to breathe, but how many of you have taken the time to go out and learn how to breathe? Meditation is a great way of doing it. Meditation has many health benefits including lowering blood pressure and regulating your immune system.
Meditation is fantastic, but what happens while you are in your gym? Or Standing in your corner about to get into a fight? What about post training before the drive home? How do you get your mind right?
Here is a fantastic video, that shows you step by step how to take control of your breath! Check out this video from Aurelien Duarte, and his newest instructional Creating Muay Thai Connections!
Aurelien Duarte is a 7-time world champion martial artist in the disciplines of Muay Thai, Kickboxing and Shidokan Karate. Aurelien is also a life coach and speaks all over the world.
So why does all this work? Let’s explain.
SCIENCE!! To the rescue, As mentioned before 95% of people’s bodies are regulated by the medulla in the brain stem. The medulla measures Carbon Dioxide (CO2) the higher the carbon dioxide level the higher the heart rate. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen rich air, and exhale carbon dioxide.
Meaning the more carbon dioxide, we exhale, the lower the blood CO2 level will be, the lower the heart rate.
The unpopular opinion is to exhale more than you inhale to lower heart rate and get your focus back. The opinion is unpopular, but the science says it works!
In addition to this breathing exercise Aurelien speaks about being mindful of the body. Noticing the changes, one feels in their body. This is also important part for self-improvement, and recognition of weak areas that might not be readily apparent otherwise.
What could learning to breathe do for you?
You never know until you try.