Belly Breathing? Is This the Correct Way to Breathe?

I was reading over my comments secondary to the article on the valsalva maneuver and some of the things I said struck me as important enough to mention again as a separate blog post.

All the time we are instructed to do "belly breathing" or to "breathe into the belly". There is an idea there that has something to do with correct diaphragmatic breathing but it has been mixed with some incorrect interpretations. The basic question is:

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Reverse Breathing

Previously I've called upper chest breathing either inverted or paradoxical breathing. In case you haven't gotten the news flash, it's bad. Now, I'm seeing something called 'reverse breathing' being promoted for martial artists. Wikipedia says that it is "Ancient Chinese Secret".

The practice appears to be an almost perfect instruction on incorrect breathing. The idea is to expand your abdomen while breathing out and pull your stomach in while breathing in. Absolutely ridiculous and a good way to 'gas out' for a martial artist. Here is a some excerpts from an article at DragonDoor. It's full of nonsensical gobbledygook but these are the highlights of the instruction:

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Getting in the Zone V: Relaxation

Part IV of Getting in the Zone described arousal regulation and the effects of anxiety and anger on performance. At the end of that post I left you with this:

"There are those who will need to focus on energizing techniques. Rather than controlling excessive arousal, they will need to develop strategies to increase arousal. But in my experience, most lifters have more of a need to control anxiety, apprehension, and anger, and thus regulate excessive arousal. Therefore the next post will focus on regulating over-arousal."

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Breathing Exercises for Relaxation

This article is a simple explanation of several breathing exercises for relaxation. It is meant as related companion to the Getting in the Zone series of blog posts or for anyone interested. However, before we get into the breathing exercises you should have already read Paradoxical and Diaphragmatic Breathing which will have introduced the basic concepts and techniques of correct diaphragmatic deep breathing. That article contains an exercise meant to help you practice deep breathing but it should also have you well on your way to achieving a relaxed state through breathing.

I also encourage you to read the Getting in the Zone series which will provide a broader context for what we are trying to achieve. The benefits of proper breathing are obvious but many strength trainees may not see the point of "relaxation". The Zone series provides that point of context and much more.

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