When it comes to our physical state at any given point in time, it is a direct result of the interplay between our internal and external environment. Our mental and physical conditions are complexly intertwined however, by implementing certain practices, we have the ability to manipulate our internal environment in order to influence how the external environment impacts both our overall mental and physical well-being.
I was listening to a podcast recently and the speaker was suggesting that we are designed to breathe through our noses. Now, you may be thinking that you do breathe through your nose but I bet you do not do it as often as you think. Consider this, when we breathe through our nose it actually signals the body to dilate blood vessels which allows for enhanced blood flow and therefore increased exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. In addition, by breathing through our noses, we are able to slow the rate of breath in order to influence our tolerance to CO2, influence our autonomic nervous system activity (related fight or flight state), and ultimately use breath work to enhance physical and mental performance as well as improve overall health and wellness. Now, I am not breath work expert however over the past year or so I have spent more time focusing on the power of breathing with intent. Using a few different techniques which I have come across I have developed an enhanced ability to control my emotions, focus on tasks, increase my energy levels, and feel my best. Here are just a few simple techniques that I use in order to keep my mind and body feeling well.
1. Wim Hof technique. This one I simply picked up a couple of years ago from a Youtube video. I have been implementing it ever since in order to work my ability to breath diaphragmatically (which is a very important but not performed properly by many), boost my state of wakefulness, and oxygenate my body to a greater degree than I might be doing typically. The way that I execute this drill is by simply inhaling fully and exhaling fully 20 times in succession. When I fully exhale the 20th breath, I try to keep that breath out for 30-60 seconds. Once I have reached my breaking point I inhale fully and hold the breath in for 30-60 seconds. Once I can no longer hold my breath I immediately go into my next round of 20 breaths. I repeat the drill for 3-5 rounds!
2. Box breathing technique. I love to use box breathing for calming myself down, relaxing, clearing my mind, falling asleep, and even enhancing my mood. Box breathing seems to have an ability to shift the nervous systems activity from fight or flight (stress) to relaxation and calm. Simply inhale through the nose for 5-7 seconds, hold in for 5-7 seconds, exhale through the nose or mouth for 5-7 seconds, hold the breath out for 5-7 seconds, and repeat. This is an awesome drill and probably the one that I use most frequently to maintain positive mood and productivity.
3. 30 in 30 out. This is exactly what it sounds like. Slowly take a breath in through your nose. Try to extend the duration of your inhale to 30 seconds, it is tough to do at first. Once you have reached to peak of your inhale, try you exhale slowly and extend your breath out to 30 seconds, also tough to do at first. This is an excellent drill for centering yourself and lowering stress levels. When I perform this drill I find that after a couple of minutes my heart rate starts to reduce drastically, especially if it was elevated in the first place. I also find that if I feel as though my blood pressure is elevated, a few cycles of this drill seems to relieve the symptoms.
The take away point here is that we should all be focusing on controlling our breath and the way that it impacts our minds and our bodies from second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour, and day to day!
Health is our greatest wealth, let’s find fortune together!