When we tried out the Fiit home workout app earlier in the year, we were impressed both by how frequently new classes were added to the platform and the variety of classes. Among the newest options is a series of sessions focused entirely on the way you breathe – because, we’re afraid to say, the likelihood is that you’re getting breathing wrong.
The Breathwork classes on Fiit are led by Richie Bostock, who leads breathing sessions in various studios around London. We spoke to Bostock to find out what the classes involve and the benefits the practice can bring.
What is Breathwork?
Everyone takes breathing for granted but the way we breathe is closely linked to every system in the body and it affects the way we function in a very significant way. If you can become more aware of how you breathe, you can learn how to use your breathing to improve the quality of your physical, mental and emotional health.
On one end of the spectrum you have simple two- or three-minute techniques so if you’re feeling stressed you can relax, or if you’re tired you can energise. Then you can use breathing as a form of therapy to work on emotional issues and past trauma. And in between there’s breathing for athletic performance or to create meditative states of flow.
What happens in the Fiit classes?
You’ll either be sitting or lying down and you’ll be guided through a sequence of different breathing flows. The classes are designed to help you either energise or wind down.
The classes are also designed to improve your breathing patterns, breathing more into the belly and using the right breathing muscles – I would say 99% of people don’t breathe correctly. This way you’re using the right muscles to breathe without even thinking about it and that itself will have the potential to really improve your health and happiness.
If 99% of people are breathing incorrectly, how should they do it?
When we’re stressed we breathe fast and shallow into the upper chest using secondary muscles that get tired quickly. When we’re relaxed we breathe slowly and deeply into our bellies using our primary muscles that can keep going forever. So for day-to-day breathing, focus on breathing low into your belly and slow – eight to 12 breaths per minute. You should breathe through your nose and relax on the exhale.
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Do you have a quick breathing exercise that can help people relax when stressed?
Inhale for three seconds, exhale for six seconds, pause for three seconds and repeat.
Would you say that some of the good feeling that arises from exercise is due to breathing?
Absolutely. I guarantee part of the reason that people enjoy exercise so much, aside from the endorphins, is the fact that you’re breathing deeper than you would normally.
Many fitness trackers have basic breathing exercise apps on them. Are these worth doing?
Anything that is bringing awareness to someone’s breathing is good. Those basic meditation apps and fitness trackers with breathing techniques are all about trying to relax. The techniques they use are on the simple end of the Breathworks spectrum – and they work – but these 20-minute classes on Fiit are taking it to the next level.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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