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What is Power Breathing?

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  • Written By: D. Messmer
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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Power breathing is a set of breathing techniques that enable the practitioner to make fuller use of his or her lung capacity. It requires the person to take very deep, aggressive breaths using the abdomen to act as a bellows that rushes air into and out of the lungs. Power breathing is a common component of various meditation practices and exercise routines, and it is a common practice among singers. Practitioners also can use these breathing exercises on their own as a means of increasing lung capacity, removing toxins from the body and increasing energy levels.

It is possible to perform power breathing almost anywhere, but it usually is best for one to perform it while sitting down in a comfortable chair with a straight back. Good posture is crucial to power breathing, because slouching compresses the lungs and the abdomen and thus limits the effectiveness of the breathing exercises. After her or she is in a relaxed and comfortable position, the practitioner inhales air through the nose by extending the abdomen. This inhalation should be very fast and aggressive, causing the nostrils to flare and an audible inhaling sound. After the lungs have reached their absolute maximum capacity, the practitioner reverses the process, exhaling quickly and powerfully by drawing the abdomen in and forcing the air out in a short burst.

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The key to effective power breathing is the forceful nature of the breathing process. A practitioner should not be afraid to contort his or her face, usually in the form of scrunching the nose, if that is what it takes to breathe in and out with more force. Similarly, it is crucial to focus on expanding and contracting the abdomen rather than using the chest or heaving the shoulders.

Some practitioners of power breathing complain of becoming lightheaded the first few times that they perform these breathing techniques. This is a result of hyperventilation, which can occur because the body is taking in so much more oxygen than it is used to taking in. These effects will quickly disappear with repeated practice, however, because the body will adjust to the new levels of oxygen intake.

Another concern regarding power breathing is that practicing it in highly polluted areas might increase the amount of pollutants that enter the lungs. This is untrue, though, because shallow breaths take in the same percentage of pollutants as deep breaths. Furthermore, the deep cleansing breaths that are central to power breathing pushes all of the air out of the lungs and brings in fresh air. This means that all of the air in the lungs passes through the alveoli of the bronchial tubes more regularly, and thus the air undergoes greater levels of filtration.

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pleonasm
Post 3

@KoiwiGal - I have heard more than once that I should watch my breathing during yoga or meditation and the benefits are supposed to be really good.

But I always feel a little bit uncomfortable when I start consciously controlling my breathing. Like I can't quite get it into the right rhythm and it's either too fast or too slow.

Even just trying to power breathe can do that to me, so I basically just ignore breathing advice altogether whenever I'm doing something that might require it.

KoiwiGal
Post 2

@Ana1234 - It's not just good for athletes. I've heard that getting your breathing under control can work really well as a relaxation technique. Power breathing sounds like something unnatural, but it's the same kind of breathing that babies and children do, from the belly. We just get out of the habit of breathing like that as adults.

Ana1234
Post 1

My father worked with athletes as a fitness instructor for a long time and he always used to stress the importance of breathing exercises. Apparently he had a swimming instructor gig once and he got all the students to try holding their breath while swimming underwater to see who could get the furthest.

To everyone's surprise it was the smallest girl in the class. She told my dad that she had such powerful lungs because she had had trouble with them when she was younger and the doctor got her to do breathing exercises.

They worked to the point where she was able to out-swim men almost twice as big as she was, so they definitely aren't a waste of time, even for the average athlete.

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