Foundational Breathing Exercises For Improved Vitality

In this article, we're going over a foundational breathing exercise that you're going to use with every single vitality exercise you do.

Before we begin, watch this video for an introduction and in-depth overview of the practices in the program, and this specific exercise. It will cover, in depth, the breathing mechanics you'll need to know for every exercise in the program.

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The first week of the program is all about establishing functional breathing as your most fundamental movement pattern. In the program, we'll focus on a couple of daily exercises that you'll gradually build on week after week. Having a solid understanding of foundational breathing will help with every training you do. 

But first, it's important to note that some parts of these exercises will require physical exertion and might not be easy or entirely comfortable at first. However, they should never be painful. If you experience pain or cautionary symptoms like dizziness or blurred vision during any of these exercises, you should stop doing them immediately and consult with a doctor before beginning them again. 

Now that we've gotten that out of the way let's go over the one foundational breathing exercise that you will use for every other vitality training that we do. 


Foundational Breathing Exercise

You will achieve better results and build more resilience from this workout when you perform it for five consecutive days. This exercise will lay the ground work for how you should breathe when doing the rest of the vitality practices that are covered in Steffon Vitality program. 

Here's the exercise:

Bridge At The Wall

Starting today, and over the next five days, you'll perform this exercise, or a variation of it, to manage your breath. Once you've watched the video in the introduction of this article, assume the position directed in the video. Do two sets of bridges at the wall, help for five breaths. Ideally, you should do this exercise twice per day (morning and night) and at least one time before working out. 

As instructed in the video, set up at the wall with a foam block between your legs and a folded towel under your head for added comfort. Until you're comfortable following the rhythm in the video, find a breathing count that works best for you. You don't need to immediately go for the longest breaths possible if you are not comfortable doing so. Find a pace that is comfortable and allows you to feel your rib cage moving correctly. 

Start with a 5-count inhale, then a 7-count exhale, and 3-count pause. If that count works for you, try a 7-count inhale, 9-count exhale and follow it with a 3-count pause. If this feels comfortable, try adding a 5-count pause before inhaling. But remember, don't be in a rush to progress - it's your first day! Find a rhythm that feels right for you and then gradually work your way up day by day. 

As we mentioned in the video, only pause if you have entirely finished exhaling. Otherwise, continue exhaling during the pause count.

After you get the hang of the breathing exercise, it's time to do an FMS (functional movement system) rib pull rotation and integrate a T-spine rotation into your program. The spine rotation will help leverage your rib kinetics to increase the mobility of your spine. The video above demonstrates how to use the external rotation of the ribs on your inhale and internal rotation of the ribs on your exhale to facilitate the twist. Practice five breaths, while rotating to each side. If you notice that you're having more difficulty turning to one side, do an additional set on that side.

When done correctly, this exercise restores diaphragm function and inhibits compensatory accessory breathing muscles in the neck, chest, shoulders, and upper back. You should see a noticeable improvement in shoulder mobility (especially in your internal rotation) after only two sets of this breathing exercise. If possible, have someone test your shoulder rotation on both sides immediately before and immediately after performing this exercise to track your progress. 

Sarah Aboulhosn