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The In and Out of Breathing

Albuquerque Journal Article with Bryan & Aline Alexander discussing the impact of Breathwork

Coordinating movement, breath manages stress on biochemical level, expert says
by Donna Olmstead

Read the following excerpts or download the full article below:

Aline Alexander, co-owner of Momentum Studio on Menaul Boulevard NE, says she incorporates breathing exercises to help all of her clients, from those training to run a marathon to those who want to improve their backhand. According to breathing.com, even professional football teams hire breathing coaches to improve players’ performances.
“Any good movement style — dancing, swimming, yoga and the martial arts — practices some kind of breath control,” Alexander says.
In general, resistance training calls for exhalation on the exertion part of the exercise.
Pilates encourages breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, coordinated with exercise movements, Alexander says.
A long inhalation through the nose and exhale through the mouth is intended to lengthen the spine and flush the body of toxins. “Joseph (Pilates, creator of the exercise system) said the breath was like an internal shower,” Alexander says.
She says Pilates favored exhaling through the mouth, instead of the nose, as is taught in yoga, because he believed it was more effective in emptying the lungs. Take a breath
Breathing techniques, both stimulating and relaxing, are even more important for people with physical limitations, says Alexander, who has taught movement for more than 20 years.
A stimulating breath “brings a vibrational quality to the breath. With rhythm and tempo we are stimulating the diaphragm and abdominals and building the strength we need in our lungs to be able to go for a run.”
Alexander says toning breath is more crucial for people who can’t participate in vigorous activity because without the physical exertion that requires the body to breathe more deeply, people tend to breath shallowly in the upper lungs.
Deeper breathing fosters more oxygen uptake in the blood, improving circulation, digestion and metabolism, and energizing the lymph system and most other bodily process, she says.

Bryan Alexander, co-owner of Momentum who holds a doctorate in biomedical sciences from UNM, says the reason the breath work of mind-body exercises is so important is because it interprets the body’s fight-orflight response that gets agitated quite often in today’s daily routines.
“My fascination lies with its relationship to the autonomic nervous system and its ability to mediate the struggle between the highly inflammatory fight and flight state and the more relaxed rest and digest state,” Alexander says. “This relationship is why the mindbody disciplines like yoga, Pilates and Gyrotonic have
such great health benefits, far beyond just increased flexibility and brute strength. In a nutshell, this equates to stress management on a biochemical level, whether people know it or not.”
He explains that when the body perceives a lifethreatening event — whether from a mountain lion or an aggressive driver — it shuts down most processes and dumps adrenalin and other stress hormones into the bloodstream. That may be great for running or fighting, but not so great for getting through the next board of directors meeting or driving home from work.
Beyond that, the shallow breathing many people routinely do can bring on panic and more of the body’s stress response, he says. Most clients arrive a little distressed and frazzled, he says, but five minutes of breathing exercises change their dispositions. “Five minutes of breath or meditation at the end of the day can change your body’s physiology,” he says.

Filed Under: Momentum in the News

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