Basic Breathing Practices

By Hayley Parlen

In Coaching, Videos

November 26, 2010

Video Article

“Don’t be alarmed if a little bit of discomfort creeps in,” CrossFit trainer Hayley Parlen says. “That’s where the breath comes in to help calm the mind when you do feel some discomfort.”

In addition to being a CrossFit trainer, Parlen is a yoga corp coordinator for the Niroga Institute in Berkeley, Calif. In this video, she leads the athletes assembled at the Rogue Vs. Again Faster Throwdown in breathing exercises designed to calm and focus them.

Parlen starts the athletes out with belly-breathing technique, then transitions to timed breathing practice, creating a breathing pattern that “mimics our most relaxed state in sleep.” The next step is “conscious breathing” to focus on the exhaled breath.

“This emphasizes a sense of letting go,” Parlen says.

Among the athletes is 2010 CrossFit Games champion, Graham Holmberg, who is no stranger to yoga. He extolled the benefits of yoga on his flexibility, concentration and intensity in the CrossFit Journal video Om and Holmberg. The champ says that after a workout, all you hear is your own breathing.

“Obviously if you’re not breathing, you’re not going to be able to do any work,” he says.

Parlen emphasizes the usefulness of the breathing techniques she teaches during workouts and whenever you might need them. The point of learning these breathing techniques is to add “another tool for your toolbox,” she explains.

Parlen will offer a more in-depth look at breathing techniques and CrossFit in an upcoming Journal article.

12min 44sec

Additional reading: Inside-Out Breathing by Terry Laughlin, published Dec. 1, 2005.

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8 Comments on “Basic Breathing Practices”


wrote …

I'm no expert, but I believe breathing through the nose prevents loss of moisture compared to breathing through the mouth. Which may not affect your Fran time, but for long distance runners it could be significant.


wrote …

Interesting how for the longest time yoga and anything yoga"ish" was seemingly mocked by much of the CrossFit community. If I'm not mistaken the snickering stopped right around the time Graham Holmberg revealed yoga was part of his armoury.... There's a reason this practice has been around for thousands of years.....


wrote …

great video!! it is nice to see the athletes from a different perspective. i found myself doing the practice while i was watching the video.

i really like hayley's bracelet too!


wrote …

This is an awesome video. It reminded me of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's seminar on "Combat Breathing" for Military and LEO's. If the techniques work entering in high stress gun fire situations, I'm sure it translates into different areas of Crossfit whether it be the games, competitions, or PR'ing.


wrote …

The presentation doesn't hold up to scientific examination. It was a presentation of how a practitioner feels about yoga. I enjoy yoga and have included it in my own training but I had hoped it would fall under Crossfit's scalpel here. Perhaps in future releases. Thank you as always for your excellent content and one more morsel from Tahoe!


wrote …

Why inhalations take half the time of exhalations.

Is it because inhaling is an active function, i.e. contraction of the diaphragm and intercostals, and exhaling is a passive act where the muscles that expand our lungs relax?

Please consider reading Trungpa's Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior to cultivate breath awareness and alignment with the present moment.


wrote …

Exhaling is superior to inhaling for promoting muscular relaxation all around the body. This is an old trick from Judo - and elsewhere. It redirects one's effort to their center of gravity, that lower abdominal region where everyone in the video had placed their hands.

Think of this the next time you're tense, tired, trembling, or out of balance. In fact, you can try this while trying to stay up on a balance beam. When you draw a breath and make a conscious effort to push it out with the muscles below your belly button, your mental and physical effort goes out of all the spots in your arms and shoulders that are pulling you in different directions.

Stable balance and whole-bodied movement form the essence of Judo, and this focal point is what is (or what was; it's a bit of a lost art) known as developing one's 'saika tanden.' It's no different from swinging a tennis racket from the hips or swinging a kettlebell or nailing good core-to-extremity Olympic lifts in CrossFit.


replied to comment from Harrison Meelker

Pretty sure it's the other way around

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