You gotta breath to survive. But there’s a right way and then there’s a wrong way to breath, especially if you’re under stress. I practice Power Yoga on a regular basis and I find the deep focused breathing to be just as challenging, if not more so, than the physical side. The most effective breath is the one that is deep from your stomach and diaphragm and through your nose—not shallow through your upper chest and mouth. This exercise helps illustrate the proper technique for breathing under stress courtesy of ex-Special Forces Operator and the Founder of Elite Training Programs, Wes Kennedy:
Sometimes called ‘tactical’ or ‘combat’ breathing, it’s more widely known as ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ it was popularized in the military by Ranger Lieutenant General David Grossman in his book “On Combat: The Psychology And Physiology Of Deadly Conflict In War And Peace.”
In essence, the key to diaphragmatic breathing is to breathe from your ‘belly’. To learn this technique try the exercise below:
- Lie flat on your back with your feet up on a chair/wall
- Place a small book (or object) on your belly and another on your chest
- Inhale slowly and imagine filling your belly with air like a balloon, the goal is to lift the book on your belly, not your chest.
- Exhale slowly in a controlled manner and repeat
Over time, aim to increase to 10 minute cycles of this breathing pattern. As this increases, notice what happens to your mood, stress and heart rate. Once you get familiar with this method of breathing, you can use this technique while doing almost anything – from rucking and running, to improving your accuracy on the range.
In the final part of this series, we’ll look at building and developing the anaerobic energy systems in line with the demands of the tactical athlete.
Some more tips on tactical breathing from Sig Sauer Academy: