Practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.
– Andrew Weil, M.D., Integrative Medicine Physician & Author
Do you find yourself struggling to get through the day, or maybe experiencing the dreaded afternoon slump too often?
Next time you feel like turning towards an extra cup of coffee, turn inwards to your breath instead.
It turns out your breath is the most natural ‘pick-me-up’ there is… No caffeine required.
How breathing impacts energy levels
If you’re not breathing optimally, you’re robbing yourself of energy.
The way you breath may be causing you to feel tired, fatigued, foggy, and uninspired.
This is because proper, controlled breathing ensures an optimal oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange.
This is vital for high energy and mental alertness levels.
Since oxygen is the breath of life, it’s rocket fuel for the body and mind.
In fact, it’s been found that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients have an irregular breathing rhythm, which compromises their oxygen levels. (1)
A study by Vrije Universiteit in Belgium found that training and educating CFS patients to breath properly may help improve their breathing rhythm thereby possibly improving their condition. (2)
This is important because:
Most of your +/- 30 trillion cells need oxygen in order to produce the energy necessary to carry out the body’s essential processes and functions like digestion, immune function, and cognition.
How Your Cells Create Energy: Cellular Respiration
Virtually all of the oxygen we breathe is used to produce energy in our cells…
– Dave Asprey, author of ‘Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster”
Cells are literally little powerhouse engines responsible for producing a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Biologists refer to ATP as the ‘energy currency of life.’
Cells take energy from oxygen and nutrients in your food (ie: sugar/glucose) and convert it into ATP via a process called cellular respiration. (3)
Improving oxygen intake, such as what happens when we breathe in a controlled and intentional way, helps our cells function optimally, and therefore, ensures optimal ATP levels which translates to higher energy levels.
This translates to improved mental, emotional, physical health AND performance, all of which need to be strong to manage our stress levels.
Stress, anxiety, anger, overwhelm, and fear all zap us of our energy.
Breathing optimally helps us to replenish our reserves.
Believe it or not, how well we breathe can directly impact how much we can:
– focus on what matters most to us
– be more present with our family and loved ones
– think more clearly
– solve problems more creatively
– increase productivity
– improve our physical workouts
– fight off disease and infections
– approach conflicts from a more grounded position
A Simple 1-Minute Energy-Boosting Hack
Before jumping into the breathing exercise, here are some things to keep in mind:
With this exercise, we’re focusing on deep, diaphragmatic breathing.
This means we’re not using out chest or upper body to breathe.
This means we are engaging our lower belly as we inhale and exhale.
On the inhale, your lower belly should rise outwardly.
On the exhale, the lower belly moves inwardly, towards the navel.
Balancing Breath Technique
Balancing Breath is an ultra-simple, evidence-based breathing technique that can be effectively completed in just a minute. Literally.
Though the body responds positively to this technique in 60 seconds, the longer you practice it, the more benefits you’ll gain from it.
This technique is based on breathing at a 10-second rhythm, 5 seconds inhaling followed by 5 seconds exhaling.
The Balancing Breath Technique helps the body function more efficiently and optimally, which ensures your body optimally converting oxygen into energy fuel.
Complete at minimum x6 rounds of 10-second rhythm cycles (Remember: each full cycle = 1 inhale + 1 exhale)
Step 1 – begin to focus on your breathing, connect with the inflow and outflow as it is naturally, right now
Step 2 – Intentionally slow your breath and deepen it slightly by belly breathing
Step 3 – Inhale for 5 counts
Step 4 – Exhale for 5 counts
Step 5 – Repeat Steps 3 and 4 a minimum 6 cycles, although 30 cycles is ideal and optimal. (6 cycles = 60 seconds, 30 cycles = 5 minutes )
Follow along with the emblem as you inhale and exhale.
Imagine your lungs expanding with air as you breath in for 5 and then contracting as you breathe out for 5: