Mindful

“In addition to keeping the body relaxed and tall (imagine your head being pulled gently aloft by a sky-high rope), and letting deep, controlled nasal breaths dictate the pace, the mechanics of mindful running are largely indistinguishable from running as we know it,” Alan Green writes in the June issue of Mindful. “What’s different is that this approach to navigating the trails and the tracks is done in a way that both approximates and complements seated meditation.”

Here are 3 different breathing techniques you can try during a mindful run:

1. Nasal Breathing

If you’ve done yoga, you’ve likely done diaphragmatic nasal breathing, where the diaphragm is engaged while breathing deeply and slowly only through your nose. The technique is used to focus the mind and trigger the relaxation response. The same thing happens when you breathe through your nose while running slowly, as in mindful running. Plus, nasal breathing warms and filters the air before it travels into your lungs, which is a boon for running in cold, low-humidity climates. But it’s difficult, if not impossible, to maintain nasal breathing as you increase your speed and your body requires greater levels of oxygen than your nose can handle.

Nasal breathing warms and filters the air before it travels into your lungs, which is a boon for running in cold, low-humidity climates.

2. Mouth Breathing

This is the most efficient way of getting the large amounts of oxygen needed under exertion. Runners usually naturally adopt a rhythmic breathing pattern focused on exhalation through the mouth.

3. Alternating Breathing

Whether you breathe through your nose or your mouth, alternating your exhale-to-footstrike pattern can wake you from the hypnosis of a repeated rhythm and according to one study, may help prevent running injury. Instead of a 2:2 pattern, where you inhale for two footstrikes and exhale for two, try a 3:2 pattern, inhaling for three strikes and exhaling for two. (If you’re naturally fast, you may want to adjust this to a 2:1 pattern.)

This article appeared in the June 2017 issue of Mindful magazine.

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Kelle Walsh

Kelle is a contributing editor for Mindful magazine. She writes and edits from Boulder, Colorado, where she loves running trails and doing yoga, and trying to learn to ski. In the past, she served as managing editor and executive digital editor for Yoga Journal. A longtime mindfulness practitioner, she specializes in health and lifestyle journalism for publications including Rodale’s Organic Life and Experience Life.

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