“Miglena, just stop and breathe for a second!“ – I reminded myself.
But all I could do was a shallow chest inhale that increased the tension and pain in my body even more.
Do you hold your breath at times?
Do you feel like you’re not BREATHING properly while training?
Then check out the video at the end of this post!
For me it all started when I was working as a UI Designer and sat in front of the computer for 10 hours a day.
When deadline-stress kicked in, I “forgot“ to breathe. The pain in my back and shoulders I was suffering from due to the constant sitting got worse.
Occasionally I’d remind myself: “Breathe, Miglena!“
…followed by a heavy gasp for air. The moment I focused on work, I stopped breathing again.
This became a pattern that transferred into my pole and dance practice.
My range of motion was limited, my shoulders were tense, I couldn’t manage my energy and got exhausted quickly. It all felt like a big effort, instead of a fun training.
After my doctor confirmed that my lungs are fine and it’s not a medical issue (but stress and poor breathing habits), I started exploring different breathing techniques. I did breathing exercises and meditation every morning. I reduced the amount of sitting time on the computer and payed attention to my breath during the day and during training.
Focusing on breathing during warmups and stretching was a game changer. Slowly, I started understanding the connection between breath and movement. Breathing started coming automatically, without having to think about it.
It felt liberating. My conditioning improved, I felt stronger and lighter. I felt ready to rock the pole after warmups, even if I didn’t feel like it at the start.
Fast forward to today: Thanks to proper breathing, I’m able to teach a big amount of classes and keep up an intense training. I incorporate breathing techniques into some of my classes, especially during stretching, dancing and pole.
So how do you breathe properly?
1. Avoid upper chest breathing. Start in the BELLY and inhale up the spine. (Just like a reversed bodywave 😃)
2. Inhale through the NOSE 👃 and exhale through the mouth 👅.
The main benefits of nasal breathing* are:
- activates the diaphragm and all benefits of diaphragmatic breathing, like oxygen going deep into the lungs
- cleans (filters bacteria), warms and humidifies the air
- widens blood vessels, increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
3. Find a CONSISTENT, SLOW rhythm and exhale longer. This reduces stress and prevents from overexerting during sport. As ironic as it may sound, exhaling also distributes more oxygen into your cells and tissues.**
General rules of thumb when…
- Dancing: Exhale when you contract, inhale when you release/expand.*** A contraction can be a soft closing of the chest, or an energetic, forceful movement, like a jump. My tip for learning to connect breath with movement: Graham**** style contractions.
- Stretching: Inhale deeply: Hold the stretch! Exhale long: Go deeper into the stretch! Backbends only: Shallow breath, focus on exhaling.
- On the pole: Exhale during exertion and big muscle contractions. Most people tend to hold their breath during tricks and during exertion, which is most of the time in the air. 🥵
Common mistake: Big inhale, breath hold during invert, continue breathing in a leg hang.
Correct: Inhale, EXHALE during invert, continue breathing with the next move.The released energy will fire up the muscles, help you feel lighter and execute the movement with less effort.
How can you start breathing freely and efficiently during your training?
You can’t expect to have good breathing during training while having breathing poorly during the day and night. Start right now!
As you’re reading this, breathe in through the nose – into your belly and up your spine. Exhale slowly and for twice as long as the inhale. Example: 4s inhale, short pause, 8s exhale, short pause. Repeat.
Start breathing during WARMUPS and STRETCHING!
It’s hard to think about your breath when focusing on tricks. It’s much easier to concentrate on it during warmups and movements that don’t require too much coordination or technique.
Use this warmup video from my Lyrical Pole classes and add more mindful breathing and flow into your dancing: With time and practice breathing will start coming automatically, without having to think about it.
Now I’m curious to hear from you:
Do you tend to hold your breath, or does it flow along with your movement? Comment below!