How To Use Breathwork To UP-Level Your Performance
Updated: Aug 26
There are one thousand and one health hacks out there, but their efficacy is limited if you don’t start with a healthy foundation. 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 magic 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, when you wake up or just before bed, there are simple strategies that afford you more control over your mind and body.
Below are the top ways that breathwork can up-level your performance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want to begin learning the ins and outs of your breath?
Check out my online breathwork course.