A great way to change your internal state and prime yourself for metaphysical activities, such as visualizations or expressions of gratitude, is to perform controlled breathing practices. These exercises can bring about both energetic or relaxative states, as well as enhance cognitive functions. Many successful businessmen/women, celebrities, and coaches, such as Tony Robbins, perform this ritual every morning as one of the ways to prime their minds for the day. Yoga practitioners and monks have used breathing practices for centuries to relax their minds and control their emotions.
Typical/subconscious breathing patterns have shallow inhalations to the upper chest and rely on relaxed chest/rib area to exhale. A more effective way to breathe and increase oxygenation of the blood is to consciously inhale deeply into the belly, which fills the lungs in their entirety. This may not be feasible for every breath of the day, but should be consciously attempted multiple times throughout the day to relax the mind/body. It is also a great way to relax the body before sleep.
Here is a breathing technique for relaxation (through the nostrils):
– 4 second inhale
– 2 second hold
– 8 second exhale
– 2 second pause before next inhalation
THIS article illustrates why the longer exhalation is important:
“A great, simple breathing exercise for calming both the nervous system and the overworked mind is a timed breath where the exhale is longer than the inhale. When your exhale is even a few counts longer than your inhale, the vagus nerve (running from the neck down through the diaphragm) sends a signal to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system and turn down your sympathetic nervous system”
Your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for sending the “rest and digest” signals to the body and putting you into a relaxing state. Alternatively, purposeful vigorous breathing can increase heart rate and actually facilitate a boost of energy. Here are two examples:
Breathing Techniques for Energy (through the mouth)
- 10-20 seconds of vigorous inhalation and exhalation
- Exhale forcefully and allow inhalation to occur naturally for 1 minute
Breathing techniques also have memory retention benefits, as THIS study illustrates:
“Our results thus uncover for the first time the remarkable facilitatory effects of simple breathing practices on complex functions such as motor memory, and have important implications for sports training and neuromotor rehabilitation in which better retention of learned motor skills is highly desirable.”
A great way to incorporate breathing techniques into your daily life is to start and end your day with just a few minutes. Taking control of your breathing facilitates the ability to take control of your thoughts, emotions and physical state throughout the day. It is a simple, yet very effective way to change your internal state in less than a minute!
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