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Why is there so much emphasis on breath in mind-body exercise?

Bringing awareness to your breath is one of the easiest ways to draw your focus inward as well as find some mental clarity, which are two distinguishing factors in mind-body practices. Our breath is our life force and is always important in any type of exercise. It can effect how you feel during your workout as well as how you perform. It is important to use the full capacity of your lungs to breathe in and out, meaning that you should fill them with from air top to bottom, left to right, and front to back. This takes practice as many people are naturally chest breathers without even knowing it. This is especially critical with women who tend to hold their lower belly in, which forces chest breathing. To practice using the most efficient breath and using the full capacity of your lungs, first imagine dividing your torso into three parts, your lower belly, your middle or ribcage, and your upper chest. Then draw in a third of your breath in the lower belly, a third in the middle, and a third in your chest. Try to feel each part of the body expand and imagine completely filling your lungs. Practice this daily, whether you are exercising or not, and see how it effects your performance and breathing during your next workout.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.