We’ve all had moments like this, where we feel low in energy and you know it’s not fun.
It can really be limiting…
Maybe you need to be more productive in your work, or have the energy for your family and friends.
Whatever your needs from life, having more energy can definitely make things better.
Today you’re going to learn how something as simple as breathing exercises can help you get more lasting energy, the natural way.
Energy and External Stimulus
You may be thinking… Can’t I just have a coffee, or an energy drink? That’ll perk me up!
Plus, it’s almost instant, and really easy!
Sure you can get energy fast with this approach, but what about after the effects wear off? How are your energy levels then?
Chasing a caffeine high isn’t the answer to sustained energy levels.
Fast forward even a year of getting your energy from external vices and your body can quickly forget how to naturally build your energy levels from the inside.
After studying the human body in daily life and working with many people around the world I’ve learned that developing ones energy levels is not as simple as constant external stimulus from the outside, to affect your inside.
Energy levels must also be balanced from the inside, to affect your outside. Breathing exercises are a great place to start building energy internally.
Why Are Breathing Exercises Important to You?
Each and every day we take thousands of breaths, but are you aware of the way you perform each breath?
How well are you breathing, right now?
The way you breathe affects every physiological function in your body.
Just 10-20 minutes of breathing exercises each day can help:
- Harmonise your nervous system – a key system that’s important for strength training and flexibility, and much, much more,
- Switch the autonomous nervous system from stressful sympathetic over to restorative para-sympathetic mode,
- Enrich your entire body and all its tissues with oxygen-enriched blood and invigorating vital energy and circulation,
- Improve your level of connection between your body and mind,
- Reduce stress levels significantly,
- Improve your energy levels and mental clarity,
- And much, much more…
In understanding this you may be starting to get the importance of enhancing your breathing skills with some exercises.
There are many different types of breathing exercises derived from practices like meditation, Qigong, martial arts, Yoga, etc, but regardless of which type(s) you practice the important point is to practice.
Even if you only practiced your breathing exercises for 10-20 minutes each day; imagine how much time that would be over the course of a few years… and the positive effects this could have on your well-being… and what you’re here to do in this life.
Are You Shallow Breathing?
After working with many people to improve their health, well-being and the way they move their bodies I’ve noticed something many have in common with regards to the way they breathe.
- Short – during each breath cycle of inhale and exhale,
- Shallow – mainly into the lungs,
- Front Focused – mainly into the front of the torso.
Breathing shallow breaths in your daily life can dramatically limit the amount of oxygen your body can take in, and can effect many other functions that affect your physical training and life; from sleep, to metabolism, to recovery, etc.
Imagine for a moment that your body was a seesaw, with your upper torso on one side and your lower torso on the other side. It’s common for many to only fill the top half of their body with short, shallow and front focused breathing, for most of their lives!
What do you think this does to the metaphorical see saw, indicating body balance and well-being?
If you’ve been habitually shallow breathing, or simply haven’t been aware of your breath for most of your adult life, all is not lost.
There’s many ways to improve your breathing, which we’ll dive into below.
How to Overcome Shallow Breathing Habits
I’ve observed a major contributing factor to shallow breathing; leading to reduced energy potential, is often about where you put your focus.
If you’re always putting your focus on the external and what’s going on around you. You can lose sensitivity of what’s going on inside of you.
The more we get drawn into all that is not us, the more we shall become it.
So think to yourself for a moment… Do you spend a lot of time in stressful environments, in challenging conversations, sitting at a desk in front of a screen?
- Where is this putting your focus most of the time (inside your body, or outside it)?
- What is this doing to your breathing?
- Who and what are you becoming as a result?
Improving Your Breathing is as Easy as A, C, B
You can re-balance your focus and connect back to your breathing at any time.
Here’s 3 steps that will help:
- Become Aware of the moment,
- Connect to your body,
- Through your Breathing.
In any given moment you can ask yourself questions like this to re-inforce your A, C, B practice…
- How’s my body feeling in this moment?
- Where is my focus currently?
- How am I breathing?
- How is my breathing affecting my body right now?
- What’s the experience I would like to create in my body?
- How can I adjust my breathing to encourage this experience?
Listen to what your body is telling you, and respond accordingly.
6 Principles To Improve Your Daily Breathing and Get More Energy
With consistent practice of these guidelines you’re on the right track to experiencing more energy in your daily life.
Focus on the following simple, powerful breathing principles.
- Aim to keep your breaths smooth, rhythmic and as silent as possible.
- To do this focus on breathing slowly, smoothly, while keeping your attention on your breath.
- The air you breathe in and out of your nose and throat should be an even and fine stream.
- Imagine it’s like a calm and gentle breeze.
- Practice each and every breath you take to be slow and intentional.
- There’s no need to rush your breathing.
- Take your time.
- Bring your attention away from the clock and just focus on slowing your breath.
- Focus on drawing your breath deep down into your abdomen,
- Imagine you’re breathing into your spine,
- Fill your abdomen with 70% of your breath,
- Allow the next 20% of your breath to flow up your spine to your lungs,
- Leave the other 10% so as to not fill up completely (this just tenses you up),
- Hold for a moment that feels good for you at the top and bottom of your breaths.
- Aim to allow your inhale and exhales to be even in length and intensity,
- This will require you to slow your mind and to find balance in your emotions in the moment.
6. Moment Specific
- The depth, speed and rhythm of your breathing will change a lot depending on what you’re doing in any given moment,
- Depending on if your training, walking, sitting, etc different types of breathing will be most appropriate for that given moment,
- The important thing is to remain as mindful as you can and simply pay attention to your breath,
- Your body knows how it wants you to breathe, just ask it.
The main point to take away here is – simply focus on your breathing, relax and the rest will work itself out. The above principles are simply some points to guide you towards a path that’s best for your individual needs.
Experiment and adapt these principles to your individual body and find a style of breathing to suit your needs in the moment.
4 Tips To Bring Better Breathing Practice Into Your Life
Now you understand how to improve your breathing habits, it’s time learn some practical ways to integrate it into your life.
- Get a mindfulness alarm app that reminds you to take some deep breaths every hour,
- Set a daily time that you focus on deep breathing for 15-30 minutes, while walking, sitting or laying down,
- Ask your friends to keep reminding you to take a deep breath if they notice you shallow breathing. You can do the same for them as well. This can be a great way to build friendships and improve your health and well-being together.
- Practice Qigong each morning. At a very basic level Qigong involves deep breathing, movement and becoming aware of your internal energy flows. It’s a powerful health and well-being practice indeed.
Here’s a quick recap of the breathing exercises mentioned above.
To sum it all up, you can get more energy flowing through your body the natural way using breathing exercises.
Simply bring your attention to your breathing and make it a priority in your life. Amazing things flow from practicing quality breathing every day.
Imagine for a moment… What if this was your last breath? How would you take it?
Better Breathing = Better Body
You now know the power of breathing exercises to improve the way your body functions both inside and out. The next step is to learn a step by step breathing practice, so you can experience more energy and get your body performing better for longer.
Images courtesy of stock images and Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net