Did you know that breathing is one of the most simple and powerful forms of self-realization? Through control of breathing, we are able to fully engage – or disengage – the mind from our physical performance depending on our needs.
Most people think of breathing in terms of stress reduction, which certainly is vital during these intense times. However, breathing offers a multitude of other benefits, including enhancing your capabilities for physical performance. In fact, breathing awareness is one of the fundamental principles of the Spinning® program.
With practice and devotion to proper breathing techniques and breathing awareness, you can train harder, go faster and conserve energy by reducing the required heart beats at a given intensity level.
Many of you have experienced the incredible phenomenon of lowering your heart rate while maintaining the same resistance and cadence, merely by intention and breath control. When we are able to generate the same amount of energy at a lower heart rate, our physical performance improves dramatically. A lower heart rate means less oxygen use, improved fat-burning, glycogen sparing and a reduced stress response from the adrenal glands.
The whole reason heart rate training was developed was to enable the athlete to conserve energy and develop their fitness level without becoming exhausted. When breathing is haphazard and inefficient, energy is wasted, fitness progress is hindered, and recovery time is extended.
The Chinese philosophy of Chi (Physical Energy), Shen (Spiritual Energy), and Jing (Battery Power or Stored Energy) recognizes the importance of breathing. Proper breathing is a pathway to nurture and cultivate Chi. The converse is true as well – you can deplete Chi with haphazard, inefficient breathing.
Chi is cultivated though proper nutrition, positive mental attitude, proper breathing technique and awareness and through a carefully designed physical training program that balances stress and rest.
Shen is developed by giving unconditionally. When you give without expectation of anything in return, or without the recipient knowing it, this creates feelings of warmth and connection with the universe, cultivating your Shen.
Jing is your stored energy; it is something you are given at birth. While it is difficult or impossible to increase Jing, we can easily waste it with excessive amounts of stress in our lives or unhealthy habits.
Spinning Master Presenter, Mary Jo Ketterhagen lda, has authored a detailed Spinning® Continuing Education online course that offers many techniques to cultivate proper breathing both on and off the bike. The course is titled Breathing to Enhance Performance and Reduce Exercise Stress.
Curious to learn more about our online courses? Click HERE!
This article was originally published in the October 1999 edition of Spinning® Instructor News.