Straw breathing techniques are used in yoga and also as an aid to help singers learn breath control. I discovered this technique during my deadlift training as it was recommended by Andy Bolton in his book Deadlift Dynamite.
A big component to heavy lifting is breath control. You must learn to breath into your groin or pelvis, but it’s a hard concept to grasp. We often take shallow breaths throughout our day, so straw breathing is a great way to really grasp what is diaphragmatic breathing and how to breath into your pelvis.
I prefer straw breathing lying down as your spine is elongated and your diaphragm isn’t squished due to poor posture. Plus its easier to activate your pelvic floor muscles when you first start implementing this technique.
Begin by lying on your back in a relaxed postion. Breathe normally for 30 seconds to one minutes so you can gauge the natural rhythm of your breath. Note if your breath seems short, erratic, or trapped in your ribs.
Take a straw, preferably a skinnier one, and place it between your lips. You can begin by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through the straw. Take long, deep breathes. Focus on filling your abdomen all the way through your groin with air.
Do this for 5-10 breaths. Then plug your nose with your fingers and repeat the process. This time as you exhale, focus on breathing into the belly and the pelvic floor. You should feel your pelvic floor muscles expand as though the air is pushing into your perineum.
When you inhale, draw the pelvic floor muscles up toward your heart, soften the belly, and push all of the air out and up through the straw. Do so slowly and deliberately.
Repeat the process for ten full breathes, focusing your mind on the moving within your pelvis. Imagine filling it with air and pushing the air upward toward your heart each time.
When you get really good at this you can use two straws for this technique. Straw breathing not only helps you learn to strengthen and engage the pelvic floor, but also works as a relaxation technique. It is often used to calm anxiety and stress. You may feel a bit light-headed when finished so take your time getting up from the floor.
If at any moment during the practice you feel panicked, you can always release your nose.