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The Importance of a Stress Breath

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Paradox breathing: This is a type of breath that is used when we need the abdominals contracted for stabilization. It is no longer ideal to use the abdominals in the aid of breathing. The breath now will be more expansive at the rib cage and the diaphragm moves higher up into the chest. Chest breathing is a normal response in these situations to protect the spine but you are still breathing.

This is commonly referring to as a stress breath. We make the mistake that a stress breath is bad because we relate it to stresses we experience during the day. This is not the only stress that the body takes on. There are emotional, physical, thermic and chemical stresses that the body takes on and any of them will elicit a chest/stress breathing response from the body. This is normal. It is when it is prolonged that it becomes a problem

In a workout or yoga practice we are increasing the stress on the body in certain poses, lifts or techniques as these will require the paradoxically breath in response to the stress. An example would be plank, arm balances, any pose where it is requiring us to engage the abdominals for stabilization. It is to what degree based off the difficulty of the pose, lift of technique. An example would be warrior requires less abdominal contraction than a plank. Therefore, the stress/ chest or paradoxical breath would be different for each because one is clearly harder than the other.

If you have any questions feel free to message me. If you missed the previous video/blog on Relaxed breathing please refer to that to get a background of the basic biomechanics of the diaphragm when it comes to relaxed breathing.

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