A Workout for your Lungs

I hate getting winded. I hate when I feel like I could run faster if only I could get enough air. Back in high school, I played trumpet. As you might imagine, the best trumpet players also have the best lungs. My instructor once taught me a breathing exercise attributed to trumpet greats like Bobby Shew and Maynard Ferguson based on some yoga breathing techniques.

In high school, I also noticed that a few weeks with this technique really helped me when doing the mile run in gym class. It’s also a great way to get yourself awake and alert in the morning.

Below are the two exercises that I’ve found helpful: the wedge breath and what I like to call the deep breath. Your first few times, you may get light headed while trying this, so do it sitting down until you are used to it.

The Wedge Breath (start with 5 reps and work up to 10 or even 20):

  1. Breathe in while pushing your stomach out. Do not breathe out.
  2. Breathe in again and pull your stomach in. Again, do not breathe out. Here, you will feel the pressure start to build as you pull your stomach in.
  3. Breathe in once more while gently raising your shoulders and opening up your chest to fill your lungs as much as you can. Keep your stomach in and abs tense
  4. Hold your breath for just a moment more as you let your shoulders down and feel the pressure.Keep your stomach in.
  5. Breathe out while pushing your stomach back out.
  6. You can finally relax your abs as you push your stomach out for the first breath in.

The Deep Breath (10 breaths work up to 20)

  1. Breathe in while pulling your stomach in. Do not breathe out.
  2. Breathe in again and push your stomach out. You will feel a huge rush of air into your lungs as you get better. Do not breathe out.
  3. Breathe in once more while gently raising your shoulders and opening up your chest to fill your lungs as much as you can (for this exercise, you should be relaxed, not tensed).
  4. Let your shoulders down and feel the pressure in your lungs for just a moment.
  5. Exhale everything until you are completely emptied of air (one blogger notes that pushing your stomach out while you do this is very similar to the way lions roar).

The Wedge Breath has the added benefit of engaging your abs more, while the Deep Breath seems to fill your lungs more effectively. I use both on and off. After a couple weeks of doing one of these before each workout, I think you’ll start to see a big difference. Let me know how it goes for you!

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