Updated: Sep 29, 2020
"....Everything that has the breath of life...." Genesis 1:30
Breath has created and sustained all things. The phrase 'breath of life' in the creation story, God illustrates the power and beauty of breath. He breathed all living things into existence, this is emphasized in the Hebrew root word for breath here which means: to take breath, refresh oneself.
How to do:
In through the nose
Bring air down low in belly, fill your lungs.
Out through the mouth
Relax and repeat
Tighten and force breath
Pant through mouth or nose only
Shallow breath/fast breath
Shorten the neck/raise shoulders
You can learn to make your breath 'muscle memory', where you don't have to think about the technique that makes it efficient to facilitate moving oxygen. In addition to making it 'second nature' you should also rehearse scanning your body for tension and pain. With each breath inhale and scan in your awareness, breath "into" the tension a full breath, and then let the breath and tension/pain ease away as you breath out through the nose.
Ride and Apply:
The more we practice, have stable and rhythmic breath, the more we will be able to unconsciously access that pattern in a high pressure run. When we breathe this way, we keep our bodies from becoming like a tight predator (IE hilariously accurate meme below). Not only will steady breath help us keep injury free, as we are more likely to strain and stress when our brain and muscles are deprived - but it will translate positively to our horse.
Next time you ride...be aware of your breath. Do you ever get a side-cramp when you go above a walk? Do you ever wait your turn to exhibition or run and feel unusually nervous? It's because you need to remember to breathe! It's nothing fancy other than telling yourself to keep breathing and facilitating how deep and frequent you need to breathe according to what you are doing with your horse.