Coordinate your breathing to increase your lung capacity and live longer.
This is the art of “Breathing Coordination” and the power of harnessing a full exhalation. As basic as this sounds, full exhalations are seldom practiced. Most of us engage only a small fraction of our total lung capacity with each breath, requiring us to do more and get less. One of the first steps in healthy breathing is to extend these breaths, to move the diaphragm up and down a bit more, and to get the air out before taking in new air.
By intentionally fully exhaling, you will eventually start feeling coordination, which is when the respiratory and circulatory systems enter a state of equilibrium. Then, the amount of air that enters us equals the amount that leaves, and our bodies can perform all their essential functions with the least exertion. This technique helps to engage more movement from the diaphragm and increase respiratory efficiency.
“Breathing Coordination” has been used to help paraplegics, people with scoliosis, and those with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and pneumonia. But the benefits extend not just to the chronically sick, but to everyone. Within a few sessions, singers can sing more clearly, more robustly, and with added nuance. Runners feel relaxed and energetic (even whilst racing), take half the time to recover between races, and have broken personal bests and set world records.
- Sit up so that the spine is straight and the chin is perpendicular to the body.
- Take a gentle breath in through the nose.
- At the top of the breath begin counting aloud from one to ten over and over.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc.
- As you reach the natural conclusion of the exhale, keep counting but do so in a whisper, letting the voice softly trail out.
Keep going until only the lips are moving and the lungs feel completely empty. The strain of this counting exercise is equivalent to the strain on the lungs during physical exertion. At the end of each breath, it will feel like your chest has been plastic-wrapped and your abs have just gone through a workout.
- Take in another large and soft breath and repeat.
It should never be forced; each breath should feel soft and enriching. Continue for 10 to 30+ cycles. The point is to get the diaphragm accustomed to this wider range so that deep and easy breathing becomes unconscious.
- Once you feel comfortable practicing this technique while sitting, try it while walking or jogging or during other light exercises.
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