Use breath to restore energy and boost your mood.
You may have noticed that breath training (along with regeneration techniques such as cold therapy and meditation) is the newest in an arsenal of high performance tools designed to get you results while maintaining health and a commitment to wellness and longevity. It’s obviously not a new tool—we have (thankfully) been breathing since the beginning of time, and humans have studied and experimented with breathing techniques across all cultures and disciplines. While the purpose of these studies may vary and the yogis, physiologists and embodiment practitioners all have their own distinct approach to and reasoning for manipulating breath, all agree that breath contains a master key to our mindset and physiology. We can use conscious breathing to increase our awareness, manage our heart rate and response to stimulus, improve our relationships (and our sex lives), manipulate our vocal quality and ability to speak, impact our posture and even alter our metabolism.
Here are three simple breath techniques for you to try. Instead of your later afternoon coffee, give them a whirl, and observe the discernible difference that they create in your energy level, your body and in your mood.
This breath is an incredible way to fully wake up and oxygenate your physiology. Practice it and build up to twenty breaths a few times a day, and you will change your life, feel smarter and be more energized and ready to meet your fitness goals.
- Start standing in neutral posture. Observe your normal breathing.
- Repeat a positive statement about yourself that you wish to be reinforced. Such as I rock, I can do this, I am loved.
- Take a long, slow breath, counting slowly as you breathe in through your nose, allowing your belly to move. (For example, try an eight count inhale.)
- Retain the breath in your lungs for four times the count it took to bring the air into your lungs (32 count hold).
- Now double the inhale count, and exhale slowly and with control through your mouth, controlling the pace (16 count exhale).
Return to your normal breath pattern and notice your expanded sense of self.
Breath is one of the fastest ways to increase your energy and connect consciously to your heart rate. In doing so, you have more control over your performance, your clarity and your ability to up-regulate your energy on a dime. Find some space, get comfortable and give this one a try.
- Start lying on your back. Observe your normal breathing and scan your body for an energy level check.
- Take a few expanded deep belly breaths, allowing breath to fill the diaphragm, and force the belly to rise and fall with each inhale and exhale.
- Breathe in fully through your nose until your belly is completely full. Hold the breath, and tense around the air in your abdomen.
- Maintain the air, contract your core, flatten your back and force the air to move towards the chest, building in pressure. Maintain a seal in your nose and mouth.
- Consciously move the air back into the abdomen and arch your back off the floor.
- Continue pumping the breath between your abdomen and chest in a wavelike motion for a couple repetitions without strain.
- Release the air and allow breath to return to normal, native breath.
Notice the sensation and increase of energy throughout the core and the sensation buzzing in your body.
This is your everyday breath and is best done outside with the sun on your face and wind on your skin. (Barefoot is a bonus!) Connecting with nature connects us to ourselves, and when we do that we align with our inner strength and can meet the world fully. Give this breath a go, and enjoy the radiance of your inner glow.
- Start standing (outside if possible) in neutral posture. Observe your normal breathing and listen to your breath moving in and out of your body. Sense and listen to your heart beat. Notice how natural and instantly glowing you feel when in connection with the sounds and sensations of your environment
- Take an expanded deep belly breath in through your nose, and imagine you are rooting through your feet down to the center of the earth and through your head up to the sky.
- Imagine this alignment as a core connection for you and the power of life itself.
- Exhale completely with an audible sigh, releasing all tension and any considerations or concerns that you might have on your mind.
Practice being completely present and allow the silence and the stillness to charge your body through the power of your breath as one part of a magical, moving world.
Photo credit: SIphotography, Thinkstock