Take a Breath

After suffering a voice injury that made it painful to talk, aerobics instructor Aliesa George “was afraid of losing her livelihood as well as the ability to share her passion with others.” Remarkably, she turned to Pilates and discovered “a whole new way to breathe as well as exercise.” Her injury healed.

“Breathing was one of the things I realized I didn’t know how to do right,” George said. “I was a competitive dancer and gymnast. I breathed shallowly through the top of my chest and not into the whole lung. … I always hated running and cardio because I could never take a deep enough breath for it to be fun.”

George’s experience is not uncommon and, in fact, such benefits are well-documented in medical research. According to WebMD, “deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body.

“Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax,” the website goes on to say.   “The way you breathe affects your whole body. Breathing exercises are a good way to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress.”

images In her book Jumpstart Your Metabolism, Pam Grout notes that proper breathing can even be a key to losing weight. “You literally work at one-fifth of your potential when you don’t get enough oxygen,” she explains. “Your body slows down, gains weight, and becomes even more stubborn about changing.”

Deep breathing exercises have also been useful in treating illnesses such as ADD. In his book Healing ADD, Dr. Daniel Amen describes a simple technique that can benefit not only ADD patients, but everyone:

“One simple, commonly recommended way to start breathing deeply is to lie down and place a small book on your stomach. When you breathe in, make the book go up. When you breathe out, make the book go down. Or while sitting, place your hand on your stomach and do the same thing until you get the hang of it.”

Drawing on her Pilates experience, Aliesa George recommends this simple technique to increase awareness of how you breathe:

“Place a long scarf across your back with the ends in front, the bottom edge of the scarf sitting at the bottom of your rib cage in back. Cross the ends in front and take hold of them in your hands, drop your shoulders, and breathe. The scarf helps you to feel where your breath is in your lungs so that you can focus on breathing fully in both lungs. Most people breathe more deeply in one lung than the other…. You can work on breathing in one lung and then the other, and then on fully breathing in a balanced way in both lungs.”

“Breathing is going to make a difference for a healthy life,” George concludes. That’s advice worth taking – with every breath.

 

To read more on the benefits of breathing and Pilates, check out these recent articles:

“Use Full Lung Capacity for Better Health and Fitness” – http://www.kansas.com/living/health-fitness/article3952620.html#storylink=cpy

“Learn Lateral Breathing” – http://pilates.about.com/od/pilatesmat/a/LateralBreath.htm

 

 

Advertisements

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE: Pilates & Running

Whether you are a serious marathoner or simply a “run-for-fun” type, Pilates provides the optimal runner’s workout. Health and fitness experts agree that Pilates exercises are ideal, both as a preparation for all forms of running, and also as a way to repair any damage that running might cause.

run4

Marathon runner Aline Raywood “recalls the time when she was having a groin pull almost every 2 months, which started to interfere with her training. She was also plateauing in her training as she was feeling that she was lacking oxygen for sustained high level of endurance.”  The answer for Raywood:  Pilates.

For more about the benefits of Pilates for runners, check out these articles.  Then, mark your calendar with one or more of the upcoming, local running events listed below.

Awesome 80s Run SF (Date/Place: 11/23/14/San Francisco).

run2Highlights: All finishers receive a “Totally Awesome ’80s Finishers Medal, Circa 1980s Style T-shirt, and Free Race Photo Downloads at this Rad 5k Run / Walk. Join the Team Challenge and Costume Contest for Gnarly Prizes and Way Cool Entertainment at Crissy Field – Presidio of San Francisco.”  Discount Code: NEON.  Website: http://awesome80srun.com/san-francisco-awesome-80s-run-5k/

Mustache Dache 5k (Date/Place: 11/16/2014/San Francisco).

Highlights: All participants receive “the very truly official 2014 Mustache Dache t-shirt.” Website: http://mustachedache.com/san-francisco/

North Face Endurance Challenge (Date/Place: 12/06/2014/San Francisco).

Highlights: Marathon relay & “kids run.” Website: http://www.thenorthface.com/en_US/endurance-challenge/san-francisco-championship/?stop_mobi=yes

Santa Skivvies Run (Date/Place: 12/06/2014/San Francisco).run5

Highlights: The Santa Skivvies Run is “a festive romp through San Francisco benefiting San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The route begins at UN Plaza and follows Market Street to the Castro. In just four short years, Santa Skivvies Run has become one of the city’s most beloved holiday events.”  Website: http://dev.santaskivviesrun.org/

Holiday Hustle (Date/Place: 12/07/2014/Morgan Hill).

Highlights: Runners that register before November 24th. will receive a tech tee. All runners “will be able to enjoy a post race beer as well as the food you come to expect from a trail race. There will be finishers medals given for all distances.” Website: https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=28585

Coyote Hills Half Marathon & 10k/5k (Date/Place: 01/24/2015/Fremont).

Highlights: “Half the fun will be experiencing all the different kinds of trails, including dirt, paved and even wood bridges.  Hikers/walkers are always welcome!” Website: http://www.brazenracing.com/coyotehills.html

Bay Breeze Half Marathon 10k & 5k (Date/Place: 02/14/15/San Leandro).

Highlights: All runners will receive “custom finisher medals and custom shirts.” Website: http://www.brazenracing.com/baybreeze.htm

Use the Force: Pilates for Jedis!

The Nerd Fitness Academy’s collection of mint-in-box (and free!) resources includes the The Angry Bird Workout and Become a Jedi – How the Force Can Help You Get In Shape.

At the Academy, you’ll even find a video-game based Nerd’s Guide to Happiness and Success.

Person-of-the-Galaxy-Yoda--65561“From Zelda to Mario, Call of Duty to World of Warcraft,” say these fitness nerds, “video games have discovered fundamental principles that can teach us how to live better, happier lives. After all, there’s a reason Nerd Fitness’s tagline has always been: Level up your life!”

http://www.nerdfitness.com/resources/