One of the greatest takeaways I've gained from a regular yoga practice is that I've learned all about the power of the breath. I've learned that breathing exercises before a workout can be amazing when it comes to helping you warm up and find your center. Plus, learning how to control your breath in general can promise a whole host of positive health benefits.
Research has shown that deep breathing increases oxygen in the blood cells, releases tension, and releases endorphins. A 2016 study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that deep breathing also has positive affects on the immune system and cellular inflammation.
Before a workout, go for the breathing techniques that feel like a nice, natural jolt of energy -- ones that send a huge surge of oxygen and endorphins throughout that hard-working bod of yours.
Try these six techniques to make the absolute most of your next workout.
1. V-Shaped Breathing
Begin by sitting down with your legs crossed. Close your eyes, and lift your arms above your head in a “V” shape. Close your hands in a loose fist with your thumbs out like a hitchhiker.
Keep your eyes closed as you breathe deep into your belly, then exhale repetitively and forcefully, using the muscles of your lower abdomen. Continue breathing for about one to three minutes.
Rumor has it, this technique helps rid you of your ego, so that's a plus.
2. Three-Part Breathing
This one is especially great to try just before a cardio sesh.
Simply breathe deeply into your stomach, diaphragm, and then your chest. Then reverse that flow as you exhale: chest, diaphragm, then stomach.
After you exhale, and all the air has left your belly, suck your stomach muscles in and up towards your lungs, holding for one count, then release. Repeat a few times before hopping on the elliptical.
3. An Orchestra Of Breathing
Begin in a standing position with your arms loosely spread out, parallel to the ground. Swing your arms back and forth three times, crossing in front of you and then coming back to the parallel position, and inhale each time for a total of three breaths. You should sort of look like you're conducting an orchestra.
Then, using the momentum from the last inhale, bend forward and let out a loud, audible “Huh!” before coming back up.
Ready for some jump rope now? How about a little Zumba?
4. A Cup Of "Yogic Coffee"
Too tired to lift those free weights? Try this bad boy out, then tell me how you feel.
Sitting or standing, let your arms drop to your sides, then bring your hands up toward your shoulders.
Inhaling deeply, shoot your arms over your head, exhaling forcefully as you bring them back down, breathing only through the nose.
Repeat until you have a rhythm going, about 30 seconds to a minute.
5. Right In The Diaphragm
Lying down or sitting, place one hand over your stomach, and one on your chest. Concentrate on keeping the muscles of the chest as still as possible as you breathe deeply into the stomach, inhaling and tightening the muscles of your stomach as you exhale.
This one is great to do before a long run, as it does wonders for your lung capacity.
6. Twist And Breathe
This can be done sitting on your heels, cross-legged, or standing. Placing your hands on your shoulders while bringing your upper arms parallel to the ground, inhale as you twist to the left, and exhale as you twist to the right.
Trust me, the surge of energy will leave you actually wanting to do burpees -- for once.