In one of my previous blog posts (TWEAK 2 MYC #6), I talked about how you can use your breath to achieve a state of deep relaxation. I will now discuss how you can use your breath as a way to “psych” yourself up.
Everyone feels slightly tired at some point during the day, whether it be after sitting down and working for several hours in your office or between heavy sets in the gym. Although this is normal, it’s far from ideal!
Since we live in a very competitive environment, we need to have the ability to perform at an optimal level even when we’re tired. However, drinking too much coffee (or energy drinks) is unhealthy and sometimes we don’t have the luxury to find a quiet place to nap for 20 minutes. Therefore, we need to find a healthy and quick alternative to boost our energy levels.
“Power breaths” is an effective strategy that you can use anywhere and at any time to “psych” yourself up and increase your overall alertness. “Power breaths” are a controlled and voluntary form of hyperventilation.
Taking short, hard, deep breaths will create respiratory alkalosis. Respiratory alkalosis is characterized by an increase in blood pH level (more alkaline). Sakamoto and colleagues (2013) found that participants who used “power breaths” during recovery intervals of repeated sprint pedaling improved their performance because it decreased their levels of metabolic acidosis.
Moreover, these types of powerful breaths will trick your body into activating your sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight response). Your pupils, lungs, and blood vessels will dilate and your heart rate will increase so you can better deal with the situation that you find yourself in.
Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight. Place your hands on your hips. Open your mouth as wide as possible. Take 10 short, hard, deep breaths. Make sure that when you inhale, you push your abdomen out fully so you can get in as much air as possible. When you exhale, simply allow your abdomen and chest to naturally relax. Do not exhale forcefully!
You may feel slightly dizzy and have a tingling sensation in your limbs. This is normal. However, if you do not enjoy this feeling or do not feel comfortable, then stop immediately. In addition, do not do this breathing exercise if you have an anxiety disorder or a respiratory problem.
Once you feel comfortable with 10 breaths, then you can increase the number of “power breaths” that you take during each session. Make sure that you constantly monitor how well you feel after doing this breathing exercise.
Use “power breaths” to increase your alertness at work, school, or when you are doing physical activity (before or during training/competition).
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.
Sakamoto, A., Naito, H., & Chow, C.-M. (2014). Hyperventilation as a strategy for improved repeated sprint performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28, 1119-1126.