We’re all feeling it, there’s a heightened state of anxiety in the air as our health and finances are being challenged every day. In this rapidly changing world, as we learn to adapt, there will always be one thing we can count on – our breath.
Controlling your breath doesn’t just calm you down, it also allows you to tap into your emotions on another level. By learning how to hold the reins of your breath you can reach a state of optimal performance to get through these difficult times.
Why control your breathing?
I’m sure you’ve all probably, knowingly or unknowingly, manipulated your breath at some point in your life: in yoga, at the gym or even as a kid holding your breath underwater.
First, you feel light-headed as your veins and arteries begin to constrict, slowing oxygen to the brain. This is followed by a tingling feeling in your limbs as the level of calcium in your blood lowers. Then, you will experience short term Hypoxia (low oxygen in your blood). This body state creates positive stress at a cellular level as it teaches the body to react by strengthening its pathways necessary for delivering oxygen to the cells. Basically, you are forcing your body to stop being lazy and try harder to strengthen its internal processes.
Experts suggest that breathing manipulations can enable your mind relief at a cellular level by changing the vibrations internally, allowing you to physically confront your emotions more independently.
Breathing through your emotions
Besides the physiological impact of controlling and training our breath, ‘rhythm rate’ and ‘depth of breath’ constantly send signals to the brain to explain situations. For example; rapid breath creates stress which can be interpreted emotionally.
Think about the last time you saw a child crying uncontrollably. You may have noticed that they were also struggling to control their breath. In this situation, the breath is a response to a heightened emotional state but it is also a vicious cycle as the rapid breathing causes the emotional state to remain elevated.
Crying is only one example of how humans manipulate their breath during heightened emotional states. We also hold our breath when we are afraid in an attempt to stop ourselves from screaming and we hold our breath when we think the situation is inappropriate to laugh. These are safety mechanisms that we consciously make yet they can also occur subconsciously to suppress emotional trauma.
The Navy Seal way
We can increase our breath to create stress or slow it down to produce a sense of calm. Our ‘in’ breath switches on our sympathetic nervous system (making us alert) and our ‘out’ breath turns off the sympathetic and triggers the parasympathetic (which is our recovery mode – a sense of calm). We can also work our breath to create a state of balance between these two for optimal performance where we are alert, yet calm.
Breathing exercises only take a few minutes so why not give the Box Breathing Technique used by the Navy Seals a go right now:
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds
- Breathe your through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds
- Repeat 4 times
For more interesting breathing gurus, check out: