Sports - Tai Chi

How Breathing Prepares You For Sports

By Tai Chi Master Instructor Rosann Argenti, BSW

We sometimes take for granted the life-giving force which sustains us- breathing. Deep respiration brings oxygenated blood to the cells, tissues, muscles and bones; this awakens the body and mind as carbon dioxide is released during exhalation. Proper lung ventilation keeps us alert, energetic and productive. By ‘focusing’ on the rhythmical pattern of our breath, we stabilize and calm our minds, which in turn helps to tranquillize our emotions. As well, deeper respiration may help alleviate headaches, anxiety, high blood pressure, and insomnia.

The vast majority of people breathe from the upper part of the lungs. This is due to shallow type breathing, which does not engage the lower sections of the lungs. Breathing in this manner does not allow for the most efficient exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The diaphragm is the major muscle which controls breathing. It is a dome-shaped muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity and forms a flexible, moving floor for the lungs. Infants and children use the most natural and beneficial way of breathing, with a gentle in-and-out movement of their abdomens (diaphragmatic breathing) and not just the chest).

The breathing technique can be practiced sitting, or lying down, and it can be used before, during and after sports to improve the functioning of your circulatory system and internal organs, as well as to maintain a calm focus and alertness. It can be applied during your movement to create a fluid, smooth connection and block out distractions.

Once you integrate conscious abdominal breathing into your lifestyle, it can be practiced throughout your daily round of affairs.