Many people ask us about the breathing method we use in The Happy Body. Most of them aren’t familiar with this pattern of breathing and have been doing the opposite: exhaling on exertion. But this practice doesn’t allow for recovery.
The Happy Body exercise system is interval training. This means that you have a time for action and a time for rest, allowing the muscle to grow. Endurance programs, on the other hand, involve continuous movement, causing the consumption of muscle, because they don’t provide for rest between repetitions. The older we are, the more we must pay attention to this aspect of exercise, since muscles atrophy as we age.
Let’s look at what happens when we inhale: First, you fill your lungs with air and lift your chest, expanding your ribcage and creating space between the ribs. This can’t be done deeply and fully by engaging your chest only; your breath must come from your solar plexus. Pay attention to your shoulders, keeping them down and back, and ensure that your head is in a neutral position so you’re not creating tension. The inhale stabilizes the spine and the pelvis, allowing controlled movement.
Now, for the exhale: You still cultivate the straight spine, avoiding collapsing at the sternum and bending forward, which elongates the lower back muscle and shortens the hamstrings. Teach yourself to focus on the joy of release, the pleasurable aspect of letting go before the next effort.
While performing The Happy Body exercises and breathing pattern, you create an inner observer. You develop a heightened awareness of where you are in space and time where your body is out of balance. Gradually this awareness guides you to improve your posture naturally, without forcing it.
The Happy Body Program is designed to bring balance and symmetry, using conscious training. Through mindfulness, you focus on the singularity of the action in the brain, so the cycle becomes a form of stress release. The 100% focus on the six steps—inhale, flex, move, extend, return, exhale—creates a mantra, taking you into a state of centered concentration that I call active meditation.
Rejuvenation is an essential element of recovery. But it can only make you as good as you were yesterday. You cannot improve without knowing when and how to rest. The micro-meditation helps keep you in the parasympathetic nervous system while exercising, keeping your cortisol level down, serotonin level and good hormones up.
Do you think there is a relationship between mindful breathing and willpower? By focusing on your breath in stressful situations, can you relax and see more choices in how you respond? Can you be mindful and also disconnected from yourself?
Leave your response below in the comments.