If you’re interested in getting fit and healthy your thoughts probably stray automatically towards a treadmill. You’ll ease into a jog; maybe even crack a sweat and the next morning your muscles will remind you that you’ve spent most of your life, not running on a treadmill. Maybe you’ll even think twice before attempting it again.
At the other end of the scale, you could be running like a rat in a wheel every day but instead of feeling invigorated by what you think is time well spent, you feel exhausted and run down. So what’s the point in exercising if it makes you feel tired instead of vital?
If you talk to Brett Hayes, he’ll tell you we’ve been getting it slightly askew. The foundation of good health and vitality is not just the building of toned, taut muscles. The foundation of good health and vitality is the art of building of healthy, nourished, hydrated, oxygenated blood.
Brett is a health and well being expert who, among other things, works with Australian and international elite athletes; people in peak physical condition, eating healthy diets and exercising religiously. These guys know how to take care of their bodies. But Brett says the one thing that can always be improved upon is our breathing.
“People tend to take breathing for granted because it’s so fundamental to life, but just because everyone can do it, that doesn’t automatically mean we are conscious of the ‘energy’ that is the breath” he said.
“It’s a skill, its techniques! Just like there are skills to playing tennis or cooking. When the body connects with the breath, it has a huge impact on your performance because breathing is so fundamental to living well.”
“I’m a musician and for many years I have walked along the ocean’s edge at night just listening to the relationship breath has with the body,” he said. “I’d muck around and breathe on a 5/4 beat or a 7/4 beat or a 3/4 beat – compound timing. I began to realise the way I breathe, my breathing rhythm, had an effect on the way the body distributes impact. Basically your body can brace itself for impact or embrace impact”
This small but revolutionary idea eventually grew into a wellbeing philosophy that Brett has called TriBreath.
”If you look at the human body, we all know we have physical, emotional and mental bodies, but we tend to generally look only at the physical when doing fitness training, not how we are distributing energy” he said.
”You can most definitely tune up your body by timing your body up with your breath. When you are conscious of your breath, it’s like a metronome effect that helps regulate your movement, your living, your thoughts.”
He said efficient breathing could impact on people’s wellbeing in every facet of their lives, not just in the fitness training arena. For example, correct breathing can have a positive effect on common problems such as stress, fatigue and depression.
“Most people don’t really think about the way they breathe but if you really focus on it, you would probably notice that most of us; particularly those of us in stressful jobs, are taking little shallow breaths and not using the lungs and diaphragm with potent intention,” he said.
“When you’re breathing, it’s so very easy to hold your breath and people will often do this without even realising it. This leaves you feeling stressed and tired because your body is not getting what it needs – oxygen. It’s not rocket science. You must release the breath to receive the breath. I teach people how to harness the power of what the breath can give you; not only by focusing on the inhalation, but most importantly, the exhalation.”
Can poor oxygenation lead to chemical changes in the body that makes it function less efficiently? “Most definitely!”
“Breathing correctly leads to better oxygenation of the blood, which has an effect on the way you burn fuel and also on your pH levels – the acidity or alkalinity of your blood and urine. This basically equates to your life-force,” he said.
“These things, just to name a few, will affect how your body is able to function and most importantly, regenerate.”
Brett’s breathing techniques can also be used to help people manage stressful situations.
“When something stressful has happened, you’ll often hear people say ‘take a deep breath’ and they’ll do it and feel calmer and more centred,” he said.
“What they are doing is tapping into the body’s natural ability to regulate its responses to stress. When you are using your breath effectively, you will have a better capacity to deal with the stresses of your day. So if you have a difficult customer, you can use the breathing techniques right there to help yourself feel calmer and more in control, which will help you handle that situation better, and they won’t even know you’re doing it.”
“I teach people techniques to harness the power of their breath so they can optimise the performance of their bodies, whether that be during exercise, or at work, or doing the grocery shopping, or pushing a trolley around the cabin of an aircraft. These principles can be applied anywhere any time and you feel the effects immediately.”
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