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How to Breathe: Breathing and Walking


Updated May 25, 2014

Woman Walking
© Maxime Laurent / Photodisc / Getty

Breathing is important for walking and learning breathing techniques can enhance walking or even turn it into a more energizing, more stress-relieving, and even spiritual experience.

You've Been Breathing Wrong

The breathing cycle should start in the belly. Drawing the belly out brings the diaphragm down, inflating the lungs. Next, the ribcage is expanded to draw in more air. Finally, the shoulders and clavicles are drawn back to bring in the final small increase in lung volume. To exhale, it is the reverse.

Many people keep their stomachs sucked in and tight continuously, thereby depriving themselves of the belly-expanding major portion of each breath. As a result, most people breathe very shallowly using only the shoulders/clavicles and the ribcage for inhalation and exhalation.

While shallow "paradoxical" breathing will keep you alive, it becomes a large detriment in situations where you need more oxygen, such as when walking at a moderate pace. Athletes of all kinds are coached to learn to breathe with their bellies to get a full inhalation and exhalation.

Practicing a Full Complete Breath

  • Suck in your stomach, drawing your belly button towards your spine.
  • Exhale
  • Now expand your belly button outward, drawing in breath.
  • Then allow your ribs to open out
  • Finally, draw back your shoulders and clavicles.
  • To exhale, first allow out the air at the top of your chest
  • Next, draw in the rib cage
  • Finally, draw the belly button back towards the spine
  • Repeat for a few minutes each day to retrain yourself to normal full breathing.

Breathing and Walking

Consciously attend to your breathing for a few minutes during each walk. Concentrate on complete breaths from belly to chest to clavicles and back. This technique can be especially helpful when tackling a hill, giving your body the oxygen it needs to fuel effort.

Beyond A Complete Breath

The Breathwalk program by Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. and Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D. teaches a variety of breathing techniques combined with walking to produce a variety of effects including mood control, energizing, stress-relief, mental sharpness, and feelings of connectedness

Next Page: Breathwalk>> Page 1, 2, 3, 4


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