The power of breath while stretching
Deep breathing oxygenates your muscles and calms your nervous system to help your body relax. Deep, full, slow breathing increases blood flow to muscle tissues to help muscles recover more quickly from exercise, and to remove lactic acid and other toxins that can build up in muscle tissue and cause post workout soreness, stiffness and pain.
Controlling your breath can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your flexibility program. Mindful stretching not only helps you physically but also can help you get into a great place of prayer/meditation especially while focusing on the breath. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while stretching after a rigorous workout:
• Always take slow, deep, full breaths while stretching.
• The deeper and slower your breath, the more effective the stretch.
• While stretching: inhale through the nose, not the mouth. Inhaling through the nose helps to remove dust and other impurities from the air, and it also ensures that the air will be at the ideal temperature and humidity level when it reaches your lungs. Your lungs can't remove as much oxygen from air that you inhale through your mouth, because it hasn't had a chance to reach appropriate temperature and humidity levels.
• Your breath should travel in to your abdomen, expanding your lower belly first, and then moving up into your diaphragm, chest and collarbones.
• Remember to breathe slowly and deliberately, but refrain from forcing the breath in or out.
• As time passes, you'll be able to breathe more deeply more easily, but forcing deeper breaths will only have the undesirable effect of making you more, rather than less, tense.
• Exhale through the mouth.
• Your exhale should take more time to complete than the inhale; longer exhales help the body to relax more completely.
• To start with - practice counting to four during your inhale, and counting to six during your exhale.
• Always exhale as you stretch your muscles.
Author: Monique Rana - Vitasoy Ambassador & Co-Owner of BodyTech Gym NZ. (http://www.soy.com.au/id-like-to-try-soy-milk/total-health-management/well-being/these-are-a-few-of-my-favourite-things)