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Energise With These Breathing Techniques

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

Maybe you've decided to cut down on caffeine, or coffee isn't doing it for you anymore; whatever your reasons, just by changing your breath, you can energise for the day ahead.

So in the last month, we've covered why the breath is important, how to breathe well and using breathing to reduce pain. But we're not finished yet! We all know by now that slow, deep breaths help us feel calm and, in turn, can make up feel sleepy or relaxed. So surely there must be a breathing technique to energise and wake you up, so you can feel alert and ready to rule the world.


Let's start with some background information, to feel more 'alert' we must increase our sympathetic tone. This means rather than activate the 'rest and digest' (the parasympathetic) part of our nervous system (where we feel super chilled out), we want to activate the sympathetic nervous system - the part responsible for alertness, this usually activates when we're exercising, in danger or stressed.


Please note, BEFORE undertaking any of these drills, try them in a safe environment, not to the point of passing out, and seek guidance from a healthcare professional.


AIR HUNGER DRILLS


We experience air hunger when we hold our breath and feel slight discomfort as we have the urge to take our next breath - an obvious reaction, one may say, but it has many benefits! By holding the breath, we activate the midbrain (the top of the Brainstem) and, as mentioned before, this increases sympathetic tone, making us feel more alert, focused and energetic and increasing our ability to do flexion like forward folds, while also increasing endurance! So how can we do this?


1) Through Movement


Air hunger while doing a bodyweight movement while holding your breath is one of the most popular ways to re-energise - you can try this with squats, push-ups, or even walking.


Take an inhale and an exhale through the nose.


While holding your breath, do your bodyweight exercise of choice, doing as many reps as possible until you can feel mild air hunger (this can start as simply as 5 squats and then increase when you have more practice).


Take a breath to recover (up to three if needed) without panting.


Repeat 3 to 5 rounds in total.


Notice how you feel, you may only start with a few bodyweight exercises and build it up over time.


2) Breath Holds


How long can you hold your breath?


Take a breath in and out through the nose.


Hold your breath until you reach mild air hunger.


Take a breath to recover (up to three if needed) without panting.


Repeat as many rounds until you feel energised and alert! (I suggest no more than 6 rounds).


I recommend timing yourself and seeing if you can slowly increase your breath holds over time.


3) Nasal Holds


Firstly, check which of the nostrils is more stuffy/blocked by closing one nostril and breathing, then the other.


Take an inhale and an exhale through the nose.


Gently pinch your nostrils shut and hold your breath, either sway the head side to side or nod up and down until you reach mild air hunger.


Take a breath to recover (up to three if needed) without panting.


Repeat 6 rounds in total.


This is brilliant for those who have a cold or blocked sinus.



TOP TIP

Not only are these exercises brilliant to make you feel energised and alert, you can also use them in your yoga practice to help with poses that involve flexion such as forward folds, downward dog or chaturanga.


Try out these breathing techniques today and notice if you feel more awake, energised and alert.


We use these breathing drills and more in our yoga classes, try a two-week free trial today and effortlessly incorporate yoga into your weekly routine.

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