There are one thousand and one health hacks out there, but their efficacy is limited if you haven’t created a healthy foundation to build from. Just as putting high performance tires on a car with a broken engine will not yield much result, biohacking a system that doesn’t have the basics covered will similarly not give you large improvements. In such a fast paced world it is paramount we understand simple techniques to influence our health and well-being.
Get the simple things right, and you might not need all the other additions to see results. There is nothing more fundamental than the breath. How we breathe influences how we feel, and how we feel influences the decisions we wake. In the way shallow, rapid breaths can make us feel anxious and overwhelmed, long, deep, gentle breaths can make us feel calm, centered and balanced.
We are able to consciously direct our nervous system to a place of quiet and calm, to mitigate the stress response. We can also ramp it up to meet the demands of our tasks. How? The easiest and fastest way is our breath. By investing a little bit of time into learning about your breath, you provide yourself with the tools and know-how to better manage and direct the ‘automatic’ functions of the body. You teach yourself how to calm the nervous system down or ramp it up. You give yourself the tools to boost your performance (physical, emotional, mental).
The beauty of breathwork lies in the fact that it doesn’t require any equipment. It is free, effective and almost instantaneous in its effect, and once you become comfortable with it, no one even needs to know you are doing it. At your desk or in a meeting, or before bed, there are simple strategies that afford you more control over your mind and body.
Below you will find 10 reasons breathwork may be the missing piece in the optimization puzzle. If you want to experience the powerful and far-reaching benefits of breathwork, join a Frequency class.
1. Breathwork can improve focus and concentration
The parts of our breath are linked to the branches of our nervous system. By balancing the breath, we balance the brain, and we are able to engage consciously with what we are doing. When the Navy seals use a technique – you know it must be good. Box Breathing or Tactical Breathing is an effective way to bring you to the present moment, to keep your focus anchored to your task.
2. Improved Oxygenation = Improved Energy.
Oxygen = energy. It’s that simple. Our ability to deliver oxygen to the tissues that need it most is dependent on our tolerance to Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Our tolerance to CO2 can be improved with breathwork. By learning how to increase and decrease the levels of CO2 in our body, we gain direct control over blood oxygenation and delivery to tissues.
3. Helps us to WAKE UP
Need to get up and go? Don’t reach for that second cup of coffee with it’s impending crash. Induce wakeful states naturally with the breath. Breathing actively with intention can shift the nervous system into the ‘GO’ state almost instantaneously, at the same time delivering oxygen to where it is needed (the brain!). No more slow starts or feeling over caffeinated.
4. Enhances sleep
Ever wake up feeling tired? Oftentimes there is a disconnect between the mind and the nervous system. Perhaps you are exhausted (mentally and physically) but you haven’t shifted the nervous system to a sleep state. You may fall asleep, but your nervous system will still be humming away in the background, limiting the full restorative capacities of sleep. We can shift our nervous system state using our breath, ensuring that the mind, body and nervous system are all on the same level.
5. Breathwork helps to reset the nervous system
Email after email, phone call after phone call, meeting after meeting – we slowly push the nervous system into a heightened state of arousal. Our nervous system is designed to be in a dynamic state of equilibrium, shifting in response to stimuli in our environment. Constant stimulation can become an energetic drain on the nervous system. Using breathwork we can consciously shift from ‘GO’ to ‘SLOW’ throughout the day, allowing ourselves the opportunity to press pause and reset.
6. It improves efficiency (not breathing too much)
Did you know the majority of people are over-breathing? Breathing more than our required energetic demands can actually create oxidative stress in the body. Taking an extra 3-4 breaths per minute adds up (an extra 4,000 to 5,000 breaths per day!). There is a continuous dance between oxygen and carbon dioxide occurring with every breath. On a biochemical level we can improve our oxygen exchange and delivery. Learning how to breathe efficiently (~10 breaths per minute for most people) based on the energetic demands of the body allows us to stay in a more relaxed state at rest and not waste energy.
7. Breathwork helps to reduce stress (lessen reactivity)
Our ability to tolerate a physiological stress directly influences our ability to tolerate a psychological or emotional stressor. How? Cross-Stress Adaptation. So when you learn to feel a physiological stressor (high CO2 levels) and not react .. then you are learning to feel an emotional or psychological trigger without reacting. Long bouts of low grade ‘stress’ can be corrosive to the body. However short periods of acute stress brings with it a host of adaptive benefits.
8. Improves situational awareness
When you are aware of your breath, you are aware of your situation. Whether that be people’s body language, a presentation, an interaction with a loved one. You will be more present. Too often we can become distracted or disconnected to what we are actually doing. By learning to become aware of our breath, we also become more aware of our surroundings. We can use our breath to fully engage with our tasks.
9. Improves creative and lateral thinking
When we are in a stressed or overly sympathetic state, we shut down the creative part of the brain. A relative ‘tunnel vision’ occurs where we become so focused on the problem or task we begin to shut down alternative solutions. By shifting the nervous system to a more parasympathetic, right-side brain dominant state, we access our more intuitive, creative capabilities. Conscious breathing can be instrumental in problem solving.
10. Redirects our attention
Ever caught your mind wandering? Not focused on what it is you should be focused on? Notice your breath and your mind will stop. We can use our breath to redirect our attention back to the task, person or situation at hand. During breathwork we become more aware of the physical sensations of the body, of our senses, and of when our mind is not connected. Breathwork shows us when our mind is wandering, and shows us how to bring it back to the present moment.
The beautiful thing about breathwork is it doesn’t have to be complicated. It is about you, your breath, your mind and your body. Learning to breathe properly is like learning to speak the language of your nervous system. You will be much more connected, aware and engaged with your present moment.