Sunday, November 19, 2006

Crocodile Breath - Retrain your breathing

Crocodile breath is a yoga exercise or technique for teaching and training diaphragmatic breathing. It is perhaps the easiest means of doing this that I have come across.

To begin you lie on the floor (prone or face down) with your forehead on the back of your hands - neck is in alignment with the rest of your spine - this is a relaxed position. Then you will breath in through your nose and deep into your "belly" - when you do this correctly you will feel your stomach push out into the ground and your obliques will push out to the sides as well - your lower back may even rise and fall with your inhale and exhale. Once you have a comfortable inhale you simply exhale and begin again.

Do not be in a rush. Let your breathing come at a natural pace and be sure to feel the stomach push out into the floor.

Build up to being able to perform the "crocodile" breath for 5 minutes and you will have gone a long way towards retraining your breathing and having a great feel for what it means to breath with your diaphragm. Another benefit of this style of breathing is that you will mobilize your thoracic spine and when your thoracic spine can move well - your shoulder will move and function better. The diaphragm and intercostal muscles are integral to the proper functioning of your body - shoulder included.

Enjoy this "exercise" and the benefits it can bring.

4 comments:

jb said...

I've been practicing crocodile breathing for a couple of weeks, and now I'm wondering about a carryover of this type of breathing when working with kettlebells?

Or maybe a preliminary question is *whether* there should be a carryover. If so, what is it?

Brett Jones said...

When diaphragmatic breathing becomes natural and you can use it "easier" under load - you are better able to stabilize and move air during the KB moves.
What have you noticed?

jb said...

"What have you noticed?"

I'm still a newcomer to this type of breathing, but so far I've been focusing on diaphragmatic breathing at the end of a set of kb ballistics.

For instance, when I finish a set of swings -- having gone past the "comfortable stop" -- and am gasping for air like a fish out of water, I try to control my breathing by consciously inhaling from a "deeper" place in my lungs. I try to slow down a heaving chest by adopting a more rhythmic pattern.

Here's an analogy: Just like we are taught to pull ourselves into a squat (instead of simply dropping into position), I’m inhaling by *pulling* air into my lungs from the diaphragm, instead of *sucking* in through my mouth.

I guess, however, that I should be working on this type of breathing during swings, instead of after swings. But I’ve not yet figured out exactly how to implement this.

Brett Jones said...

Both are good - what you are learning is to control your breathing and recover "better" than just letting the breathing go. During swings - sniff air in on the downswing and forced exhale on the upswing - GS breathing for snatches is a 4 count of breaths per rep.
Systema teaches you to increase your breathing before it is required by the body to "get ahead" of the oxygen needs. Breathing is a vast area of inquiry.

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