If you live in the city, constantly running against the clock in a frenetic race to get your to-do list checked, is strongly probable that you are breathing in between 15 to 22 breaths per minute.
What does that mean?
Well, that your nervous system is often working in override and that your body is not getting time to recover, and your cells to restore because they are working under abnormal full pressure.
When you breathe more than 10 breaths per minute you activate your sympathetic nervous system, known as the fight or flight response. Is the part of the autonomic nervous system that accelerates heart rate, decreases mobility of the digestive system, constricts blood vessels, causes pupil dilation, activates goose bumps, starts sweating and raises blood pressure. Plus it produces the massive secretion of stress hormones.
Psychologically it makes you less resilient (less capable of recovering fast from injuries and stressful situations), you also might feel that you easily loose patience or are much less intolerant to criticism. It increases your reactivity and reduces your capacity to feel gratitude. Increases your victim-bitter mindset and doesn’t give you the chemistry that will allow you to relate to others in a light friendly way.
In the other hand it drains your energy and vitality since it requires that your brain produces beta waves, they are the most energy expensive waves created by the brain. And yes, when in sympathetic mode you are full on beta.
So as you see, this state is not sustainable. It can rapidly break your systems and produce a burnout.
The good thing is that the solution is quite simple. It’s all in your breathing pattern.The less breaths you intake per minute the more you are able to activate your Parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest mode that will help you restore your cells, produce happy hormones, create Alpha waves, reverse all of the above; enhance your creativity, good humor, gratitude for life and sense of purpose and fulfilment.
Here is how you can start doing it now:
1- Take air normally through the nose feeling your lungs expand not only in front -like in the belly area- but also 360 degrees around your body.
2- Let the air slowly go in the exhalation, and exhale until you feel it’s enough air release. Don’t force the exhalation. Make it natural.
3- Make a pause after the exhalation before you take a breath again. Take air again ONLY when you feel your body is needing it. This pause can be of 1 or 2 seconds at the beginning, and little by little you can increase it. Some people stay a few minutes in this pause.
4- Take air again through the nose and start a new round.
Yogis cultivate this practice that helps calm the mind and all of the body systems.
In the long term this simple exercise will help you find inner calm of the body and the mind in a very natural effortless way. Practice, nurture it. All its power is in the practice.
Remember to share it with whoever you think might benefit from it.
If you are willing to introduce a regular breathing practice to promote physical and mental health at work to start the year, check my Breathwork for Resilience Corporate Program. I will be happy to answer any question.