Diaphragmatic Breathing0 comments
This is the third in a series of blog posts from Ryan Huxley, co-founder and program creator at Surfbodysoul.
I love working with surfers. If a physical injury or impairment keeps us out of the water, we generally do whatever is necessary to get back sliding. Surfbodysoul provides a perfect platform for me to do what I love. That is diagnosing a surfers injury, prescribing customized rehabilitation exercises, and seeing the enjoyment of someone recovering to not just return to the water, but do so at a level of enjoyment and performance greater than they had experienced prior to their injury.
As I have discussed in previous weeks breathing and surfing are truly interconnected. If we learn to breathe efficiently we provide a greater saturation of oxygen to our body, the more repeatedly our muscles can then contract, paddling therefore becomes less labored, and prana or life force is able to flow through our veins in virtuous abundance. Surfbodysoul's big wave ambassador's Fergal Smith, Anthony Walsh, and Paul Morgan all know how to breathe efficiently and conserve their prana or energy. Today I will show you how do the same as we explore the final and most relevant breathing technique in our three part series, 'Diaphragmatic Breathing'.
In week 1 of our breathing series it was revealed that 'Empowered Thoracic Breathing' is beneficial to increase lung capacity, particularly in the middle spine and rib region. Although great when completed in small spurts (3-5 sets of 10 breath cycles for example) this technique is not designed to replace resting respiration, or what I refer to as your 'get on with activities of daily life breathing'. This is because it can lead to exhaustion over time, an overall shortening of ones breath, and feelings of lightheadedness and dizziness. Similarly our week 2 series on 'Supine Abdominal Breathing' outlined an eclectic collection of physical and mental benefits from the completion of this technique, including deep relaxation, calmness and stability. Once again this is extremely beneficial when performed for between 2 and 30 minutes (or 3-5 sets of 10 breath cycles). If you decided to apply this technique as a replacement to your usual breathing pattern you could find yourself more closely resembling a Panda, chewing on bamboo, and displaying hibernation like tendencies. In all seriousness you can become extremely sleepy, unmotivated, and too relaxed to even contemplate waxing up your board, let alone putting a leggy on or duck diving.
The road in the middle is in the form of 'Diaphragmatic Breathing', a technique that combines beneficial principles from our previous 2 breathing series, and one which is sustainable for long periods of time (in fact as long as your attention span allows). You can undertake this technique in the water, at the desk, or during your Surf Fitness practice, and you will receive recognizable benefits within minutes. These include:
• Increased mental acuity and concentration
• Enhanced ability to meditate and operate in the present, extremely beneficial for surfers
• Increased oxygen saturation to muscles and vital organs, improving physical function and performance in and out of the water
• Improved lung capacity, great to sustain longer hold-downs
The simplest way to develop this technique is to practice in relaxation posture whilst lying on your back, so lets move through this step by step:
Commence lying on your back, let the legs relax and rotate outwards. Feel the shoulders, jaw and face soften.
To begin breathe abdominally for five or six rounds, allowing the lower abdomen to relax and protrude during inhalation and to drop back towards the floor during exhalation.
Then to create the diaphragmatic breathing, hold enough muscle tone in the abdominal muscles as you inhale to prevent the lower abdomen from moving upwards.
You can feel what happens next. Because the lower abdomen is flat the diaphragm must work to lift and expand the ribcage. This draws air into the lungs and in the process expands the upper abdomen, as opposed to the lower in 'Supine Abdominal Breathing'.
I recommend adding this breathing technique to your regular surf fitness practice, in addition to 'Empowered Thoracic Breathing' and 'Supine Abdominal Breathing'. I also highly recommend working on 'Diaphragmatic Breathing' in activities of life whenever you can remember. Over time it can actually begin to replace your previous rate of respiration. In the process this will improve your quality of life, your health, and your surfing experience. It is certainly a big part of my practice, and many of Surfbodysoul's clients and ambassadors. If you're serious about stepping into bigger waves, it really is a must do.
I look forward to seeing you on the mat, or in the water!
Ryan Huxley is the co-founder and program creator at www.surfbodysoul.com, a website that provides safe, effective, holistic, scientific e-book exercise programs catering for surfers of all age, level and experience. Ryan is a qualified Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist, Advanced Yoga and Pilates instructor. His list of pro surfing clients includes Fergal Smith, Chippa Wilson, Anthony Walsh, Liz Clark, Paige Hareb, Paul Morgan & Rusty Miller.
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