BREATH CONTROL DURING PHYSICAL EXERCISE
Breathing is the most vital involuntary function of the body, which ensures that every cell in the body receives an adequate supply of oxygen to work effectively. Involuntary, or habitual breathing, is controlled by the respiratory centres in the brain, and is monitored by chemo-receptors that keep a check on our blood chemistry. One might expect that these chemo-receptors measure the level of oxygen in the blood, and trigger deeper breathing when there is too little. Surprisingly though, it is the level of carbon dioxide (C02). the gas eliminated from the body each time we exhale, which is actually measured.
The energy needed for an intense muscle work-out is fuelled by blood sugar and blood oxygen. After less than a minute of intense exercise, the chemo-receptors detect a dramatic increase in carbon dioxide and involuntarily triggers the lungs to breathe much deeper and faster; eliminating carbon dioxide and taking in new oxygen.
BREATH CONTROL DURING PHYSICAL EXERCISE Photo Gallery
There is no doubt that if you practise vigorous physical exercise regularly, your lung’s capacity to exhale and inhale will naturally increase – sometimes up to 5-6 litres of air within a single breath. But the key here is that increasing your oxygen intake through intensive exercise is actually the result of an involuntary respiration reaction.
Swami Sivananda’s inspiring description of the benefits of pranayama, (the art of yogic breathing), are not just for yogis in the Himalayas. The many advantages of pranayama are commonly experienced amongst Sivananda students at the end of their yoga teacher training courses too. However, it is not so easy for us to maintain such high energy levels in our busy western lives. The demands of our work and family commitments can affect our pranayama practice, and we can all too easily return to our old patterns of shallow breathing, which in turn reduces vitality.