3 Great Breathing & Breath Holding Exercises to add to your home routine
2020 has been a crazy year which forced us to get creative with our life routine: how to keep ourselves active, keep ourselves busy while at the same time nurture our passions, work, relationships, etc.
It has been particularly hard to have enough creativity to make our training sessions fun, challenging and diverse.
In this short article, Freediving Costa Rica will show you 3 powerful breathing and breath holding techniques you can use for different purposes during your trainings!
Box / Rectangular Breathing
One of the most popular breathing and breath holding exercises in Freediving.
The exercise is divided in 4 parts: Inhale + Full lungs breath hold + exhale + empty lungs breath hold. This can be a relaxing, breath and mindfulness exercise to activate our parasympathetic nervous system and induce a high state of relaxation, while at the same time it can be easily turned into an amazing Co2 Tolerance Training tool, all you must do is change the times of the breath hold!
By adjusting the times and durations of the breath holds, you will have a very different experience throughout the breathwork.
Tip: Start by trying the 5-10-5-10 pattern. This means that you will take a deep, controlled breath in 5 seconds, followed by a 10 second full lungs breath hold, afterwards you will exhale for 5 seconds and finally hold your breath for 10 seconds again. Practice this exercise for a couple of rounds, ideally 4 rounds or more than 5 minutes.
If you want to take the exercise to the next level, try increasing the times of both breath holds: 5-20-5-15 pattern is an AMAZING Co2 tolerance training exercise.
It will get challenging the first times, but the more you do this exercise, the more your body will adapt to the sensation.
Benefits of Box Breathing: Can be used as a Relaxation Tool, to regain control when anxiety kicks in, this exercise has a very powerful calming effect. It is also a great way to raise awareness on our breath, so it can be used as a meditation tool too.
Finally, if you choose a stronger pattern, it will become a proper “Breath Training” exercise, since it can become challenging!
One of my personal favorite exercises to practice breath control, both inspiratory and expiratory. The exercise is very simple: your exhale will be 3 times longer than your inhale. This means that you will take a deep, slow, controlled breath in X number of seconds, and then you will let the air go very, very slowly and controlled for three times longer. So basically a 1:3 ratio.
Tip: Start with 4 seconds inhale, then 12 seconds’ exhale. Maintain this pattern for a couple of breathing cycles, and then start experimenting with longer breathing patterns (e.g.: 5s-15s / 6s-18s / 7s-21s, etc.)
Benefits of Long exhalations: Great exercise to test inspiratory and expiratory control. The idea of the exercise is that you manage to control your inhalation and exhalation for the whole duration of each phase, meaning that you should use your lips to control the intake and outtake of air. This exercise requires big focus and presence on the breath, which can have a strong calming effect and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces a strong state of relaxation.
This exercise is GREAT to use when you are in a surfing scenario that can get you anxious or nervous, maybe because the waves are big or just due to some ocean stress: Bring your awareness back to your breathing, start inhale slow and controlled and make sure your exhalations are always longer and softer than the inhale.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Last but not least, a great exercise to practice nasal breathing, breath control and clean our nasal airways and allow a better flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our system.
Alternate Nostril Breathing is an amazing exercise that will boost inspiratory and expiratory capacity through the nose, which can be extremely handy for anyone pursuing better performance of their breath during activity.
This exercise also includes a small breath hold in between, so it can also be considered another version of the Triangle Breathing (inhale – hold – exhale)
The ratio for this exercise is 1:2:2, this means that if we inhale in 5 seconds, we will hold after for 10 seconds and then exhale in 10 seconds. If we inhale in 6 seconds, we will hold for 12 seconds and later exhale in 12 seconds, always alternating Nostrils.
Tip: Rest your index and middle finger at the center of your forehead, right between your eyebrows, make sure your elbow is tucked in so there I no tension in your arm. Use your thumb to block one of the nostrils and the ring finger to block the other one.
Start with a 5secs inhale through your left nostril, then block both nostrils and hold your breath for 10 seconds, then exhale for 10 seconds through your right nostril. Once you finish the cycle, you restart with an inhale, this time through the right nostril. Repeat for a total of 10 breathing cycles or practice for more than 5 minutes.
Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing: Cleanses the airways, strengthens nasal breathing capacity, humidifies, and gets rid of mucus in the nasal cavity. Relaxation and focus exercise, breath control and breathing awareness.
You can use these exercises as a down regulating activity, so at the end of a physical practice, do some small, gentle breathwork to relax the nervous system and go back to a rest and recovery state.
You can also use these techniques when finding yourself anxious, angry of feeling overwhelming emotions: Breath Control is the best way to also control our emotions and respond with calmness to any life situation.
And ultimately, these can be training tools for you to enhance your breath holding comfort and overall performance, in and out of the water!
During our Surf Survival & Ocean Resilience Course, we will dive deep into the physiology and psychology of breathing and breath holding training and provide you with all the information for you to get the most out of your training sessions.
If you would like to know more about our COACHING & TRAINING PROGRAMS in Costa Rica, do not hesitate and contact us!
We also offer a FULL ONLINE EDUCATION SYSTEM! So, if you are not able to reach us in person, we can still share with you the amazing world of Freediving!
Thanks for reading this and hope to see you soon in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica!