Besides engaging my core to create my “foundation” in the mornings, my other main focus is to “open my lungs” by priming my respiratory system. These two go hand in hand, both revolving around the proper access of the diaphragm: our main and most efficient respiratory muscle located in our abdomen/solar plexus area.
Why Is It Important to Train Breathing?
This is important for BJJ practitioners, athletes of all kinds, and the general layperson because it teaches our bodies how to distribute and use the oxygen we breathe in effectively. Our culture is prone to “over-breathing”.
Taking in a lot of breaths and air volume doesn’t equate to full oxygenation and using that oxygen efficiently. The goal of sharing some of these principles is to help you become more economical with your breathing and ultimately your BJJ. Planting this seed early in the day when our minds and bodies are more “suggestive” via the nervous system should become a daily practice.
Sample Breath Training Exercises
Tips Before Starting
Although we are oxygenating the body, the focus is not on taking in massive amounts of air. Rather, the focus is on taking diaphragmatic breaths through the lower abdomen and focusing on holding the breath out after the exhale.
Focus on lower belly
Focus on keeping chin tucked and keeping a straight spine
As you breathe through nose on inhale belly pushes outwards
On the exhalation through the nose belly comes back in towards the spine
Focus making every breath smaller than the last
At the bottom of each exhale focus on making the pause between the exhale and your next inhalation even longer
We’re building CO2 tolerance by taking smaller breaths and holding the exhale longer
Same premise of the last one but now we’re going to work on breath HOLDS once every minute
Breathe for a minute following protocol above
Then exhale and let all the air out
Hold until you have MILD air “hunger”
You want to be able to resume the protocol from exercise 1 for the next minute so be sure to not hold until you feel the need for a GASP of air
Be sure to not take a huge breath
But rather make it normal and light like we’ve been practicing
Resume your breathing until the next minute and do another holdPerform 5 to 10 minutes worth
Last Notes on the Breathing Exercises
For now, keep your focus limited. This will set the foundation for using more breathing practices in a constructive fashion. Sometimes, becoming more aware of the breath can create some anxiety. But this protocol above will get your foundation ready to progress further!
Training your breathing gives you the ability to “throttle” and rev up your nervous system when the time is needed (training, competition, etc.). The practice I shared today can take you to either end of the spectrum. It can get you charged up if you’re low energy, but reign you in if your energy is too high. Liken it as being able to “level you out” and by doing it early in the day you may just create that even level from the get-go.
Connect to nostril breathing through your lower belly, and you will be well on your way to having more longevity and performance benefits on the mats.
Mobillity Training in Action
As you’re adding in these hip mobility exercises to your routine, just add this to some of the hip mobility exercises I’ve covered in the past.
You’ll find some exercises you like more than most, and others that may hurt so “good.” More than anything, putting effort into this style of training will help with your longevity, injury prevention, and performance on the mats!