One of the best warm ups no matter your choice of movement is crocodile breathing. It will help you “feel” what it is like to properly expand your belly through 360-degrees. Fully using our diaphragm when we breath in initiate its reflexive involvement in our core function and in turn the aesthetic abs of steel we all covet.
When you think about breathing you can change it, yet the minute you stop thinking about it it continues on it’s own. Thankfully! But that also means we can choose to improve the way we breathe, practice that, and it will carry over unconsciously. Yes please.
Stress of any kind – mental emotional postural anatomical illness exercise – can all effect its efficiency. But like any other movement pattern, it’s a motor skill that can be perfected with perfect carry over for perfect posture and perfect body functioning, namely Health. Miraculous no?!
- Start lying on your stomach on the floor. Start thinking crocodile thoughts
- Bring your fists together and rest your forehead on your hands. Starting to look like that croc now.
- Relax you body with legs straight and your toes pointed down. Rarrrrrr
Your hand and head position will feel a bit unnatural at first. But with your head straight, NOT turned to either side, you’ll clearly open up your airway. Secondly, with your hands and arms elevated, the muscles of your neck and the traps are more relaxed away from stretch and tension. They’re your secondary respiratory muscles so this croc thing relaxes you in more ways than one!You’re now making it as easy as possible to execute proper breathing. Simply focus on the quality of your breaths. Easy.
While the tempo is important, your focus needs to be first placed on the expansion of the belly. Lying face down, it’s the perfect setup for breathing into a 360-degree expansion, meaning that not only are we breathing into the belly against the floor, but expanding our breathe through the sides of the torso and letting it lift the sway in your lie back. Check your image in a mirror but take care to get your head back to neutral to relax your neck when you breathe or have a friend touch your sides and lower back to push against during each breath.
Also, make sure to pause and hold the breath for a split second at the top to experience the feeling of that 360-degree expansion. That’s the goal. When we breathe deeply we expel too much co2: but when we hold our breath at the end of an exhale you retain more. This in turn allows us to access more o2 releasing more of it to our mitochondria in our cells. They’re our energy storehouses: so slower more controlled breathing generates more energy from each cell. Now that’s core strength.
No reps or sets. Just focus on the quality of movement: we’re reminding our brain that there are options other than chest breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing uses the diaphragm of course, one of the main core muscles as well.
So often our focus is on working the muscles on top of our diaphragm into submission and hopefully flatness or washerboard status will eventuate. But activity, namely the reflexive rising and falling, protrusion and flattening if you will, of our diaphragm could do more for the aesthetics of your abs, let alone the initiation of their reflexive workings for functionality, to bring about that flat tummy in the first place! So you can lay smiling like a crocodile knowing you’re prepping your abs for the steel they’re only too soon to become.
Sure, we all hear too often that poor posture will lead to shallow and labored breaths, but the belly full, rib widening, back expanding breaths pretty much like a crocodile lying on its belly, will lead to better posture and let’s face it, our abs of croc like steel.
Note: no crocs were harmed in the filming of this demo