Try them during your workout warm-up or even before bed to chill out.

By Mary Anderson
October 09, 2020
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Recovery and regeneration are a key pillar in the Wright Fit’s approach to training. Lucy Fernandez, a group fitness instructor at the Performance Lab by the Wright Fit in New York, can personally attest to the power of that R&R.

“Doing respiratory drills transformed my training by helping me manage the alignment between my rib cage and pelvis,” she says. (Mastering this alignment can help you learn to properly engage your core and glutes, among other things.)

The two movements she samples here are a hook-lying tilt (with a forward reach) and an all-fours belly lift. They’re subtle but mighty. With both, you’ll tuck your pelvis to get into position — though one is lying on your back face-up and one is on all fours — breathe in through the nose, and exhale through your mouth long and slow to really empty your lungs.

“Even more challenging is to hold that exhale for three to five seconds — that’s where the magic happens,” says Fernandez. Try the combo before bedtime, as Fernandez does. “Although these drills are an essential part of my training warm-up, I also find them relaxing,” she says. (If you love how these make you feel, also try these other breathing techniques to benefit your workouts, and breathing exercises for stress.)

Before you give them a try, a few form tips:

For the hook-lying tilt, you want to have a slight reach with your arms; extend them with energy toward the ceiling or sky. To tuck your pelvis, think about bringing your belt buckle to your belly button. The goal is to tuck your pelvis under without changing your upper spine position. Take a silent inhale through your nose and a deep exhale through your mouth, as if blowing out candles. If you do it correctly, you’ll feel your obliques engaged the entire time.

For the all-fours belly lift, make sure to push your hands into the ground and pull your rib cage back toward the ceiling. A common mistake to avoid is dropping your sternum (your chest).

Watch Fernandez demonstrate these drills above to get a visual, or try them with the cues below.

Core Alignment Breathing Drills

How it works: "Do a set of five breaths of the first drill, then walk around for a few seconds to reset," she says. Do a second set, then repeat with the next drill.

You'll need: A yoga mat or a comfortable, flat place to lie down.

Hook Lying Tilt with Forward Reach

Illustrated by Paul Oakley

A. Start lying face-up with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, with a pillow under head and a pillow, towel, or yoga block between knees. Extend arms directly over shoulders, reaching toward the ceiling. Tuck pelvis, imagining bringing belt buckle to belly button to start.

B. Exhale through mouth, trying to get rid of all the air in the body. Feel the internal obliques turn on.

C. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Then slowly inhale through nose, feeling expansion across the chest and back.

Do 2 to 3 sets of 5 breaths.

All-Fours Belly Lift

Illustrated by Paul Oakley

A. Start on hands and knees. Tuck pelvis and lean forward slightly, to feel the internal obliques turn on.

B. Exhale through mouth, trying to get rid of all the air in the body.

C. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Then slowly inhale through nose, feeling expansion across the chest and back.

Do  2 to 3 sets of 5 breaths.

Shape Magazine, November 2020 Issue

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