I’m sure you won’t disagree when I say that breathing = life :o) Blinking obvious.
What wasn’t so obvious to me (until I had my accident) was just how many nuances this seemingly simple activity encompasses.
We’ve already discussed 2 of my favorite breath T.L.A.s – the Hug Breath and the Q-Q-S Breath (or psychological sigh).
Why the Neuro-Reset Breath is Different
Today – allow me to share my very special combo breathing T.L.A.: I call it the Neuro-Reset Breathing method. As you’ll now know as customary, most things I end up adopting in my life for the long-term are a set of complementary tools combined into a M.E.D. (minimum effective dose) cocktail.
This not only deals with efficiency (we only have a limited amount of disposable time in our day). But it allows me to gain exponentially more for the same time and effort invested than from just one single-track technique.
So this breath cocktail is designed to:
- improve your H.R.V. (heart rate variability).
- To lower overall stress levels accumulated in the day – through the act of breathing.
- To reset your nervous system through the specific position of your body (more about this in a bit).
- To improve your neurological pathways – nerves, muscles, internal tissue flexibility, and distribution, so that all the organs involved in stress, digestion, relaxation, and thinking can communicate optimally with one another. I liken this to the main road of any city: if one or more of the lanes in any direction are closed, everything moves slower, maybe even stands still. Some cars don’t actually get to their destination at all.
- To trigger your body’s sleep time routine – so you sleep better and deeper.
- It teaches you to use one of the most overlooked but most broadly reaching organs in your body – your diaphragm.
- Which in turn helps you breathe better – getting a more efficient oxygen to carbon dioxide exchange relationship. Meaning your blood is better, your cells are better, and more alive with energy. AND your brain is more alert and optimistic and less likely to perpetuate the vicious cycle of stress through low energy.
- You can use it to calm yourself before or after a stressful situation – and your mind will respond immediately (if you’ve practiced).
ALL of this!
In 5 mins a day (although ideally, 2 times 5 mins is even better). I’ll share the exact method in a moment.
First – here’s a bit of perspective on why you should care about regular breath practice in your life right now.
Why breathe? Why now?
We’re ALL under stress. And it’s no longer the typical, predictable low-lull chronic stress we’re familiar with.
The changes and stress ripples COVID has directly and indirectly transposed on us are new, nuanced, and sub-conscious.
Doctors from all sorts of specialties are reporting increased physiological and psychological effects of supposed vague origin.
But let’s finally face reality – stress matters! It’s real.
I’ve personally seen the nuances of Covid-induced stress on dear friends, relatives and clients, AND myself. Hence why I fell deep into the breathing rabbit hole.
The emotional effects are the more obvious ones you’d associate with stress. But the physical manifestations are quite far-fetched sounding.
Things like lower, mid and upper back pain. Neck stiffness. Stomach cramps, I.B.S., indigestion, digestive disorders, jaw-related disorders. Headaches. Cracked teeth. Toothaches. Eye disorders and pain behind the eyes or ears. All the way down to pelvic, hamstrings, and knee issues. And finally, heart rhythm irregularities.
Some of you will just know (instinctively or through experience) that breathing to properly utilize your diaphragm is beneficial. If you’re ready to dive into the how-tos – skip to the next section.
If, however, you want to understand the way things link up, either because you’re curious or because having the visual allows you to motivate yourself through the practice, then here are some resources to go deeper:
1. Video explaining how breath affects the neurology through physiology from the neck down to your pelvis (you only need to watch from 17:35 min –> 31:50 min).
2. Video of how your neurology is “wired” through your diaphragm, affecting anxiety, digestion, and posture (watch only from 3:22 min –> 6:00 min).
The Neuro-Reset Breath TLA
This is a method that combines:
- a neurologically resetting position (proven in research studies to push you into the rest and relaxation side of your A.N.S.);
- the physiological sigh (or as I call it the Q-Q-Slooow breath) – to trigger your body’s calming response and to lower your resting heart rate (R.H.R.);
- a diaphragmatic breathing technique – to allow you all the benefits I already mentioned above, by re-activating the entire diaphragm surface and freeing the organs around and through it;
- an H.R.V. training cadence of inhale-hold-exhale that’s designed to calm your A.N.S. (as opposed to excite, maintain, or shut down).
- BONUS: if you’re a numbers-driven girl like me – you can also use a basic chest strap HR monitor (like the Polar H7 or above) and the free version of the Elite H.R.V. app. This will let you see your trending results from each practice, so you know if you’re getting better.
So what you do each night before you head off to bed is this:
- Assume the position shown in the video below (1:19 min. Thank you Dr’s. Beau & Sloan Beard :o)
- Take 3 consecutive Q-Q-S breaths to signal the start.
- Do the breath practice for 5 min. I prefer to close my eyes, but that’s up to you to adjust as it suits you. Now is also the time to put on your chest HR monitor and turn on your app’s counter (if you chose to add these to your setup).
- Maintain breath cadence of 4-1-6-1. Meaning: breathe in for 4 seconds: hold for 1 (or just a split moment): exhale for 6: hold for 1 (or just a split moment).
You can program this cadence into the free Elite H.R.V. app and follow the app’s prompting breathing flower (if you’re tracking with an HR monitor). Or use your Apple Watch’s breathe app.
Alternatively – just count slowly.
The point is to inhale for a shorter time than exhaling – THAT’s the calming trigger. After practicing for a few days, you’ll automatically know the cadence – it’ll become like a homing device for your brain – like coming back to a nice friendly hug.
Here’s how to do the diaphragmatic breath and the position to adopt each time.
BONUS #2: If you can spare the extra effort and 5 more minutes in the morning, you’d be getting double the benefits and twice as fast as just the once-a-day practice.
I’ve been doing this 2-ice a day for the past 5 months. Now both the Q-Q-S and 4-1-6-1 breaths have become so ingrained in my neurology that all I need to do is to remember to use them when I need to. My nervous system responds almost immediately, AND always (at least so far :o)
Your Call to Tiny Little Action
OK – this has been a lengthier post than I intended. But I wanted to share the massive benefits and the reasoning behind this Tiny Little Action.
It’s a powerhouse!
You don’t get this type of R.O.I. from many 5-min-a-day activities in life.
Over to you now.
Please focus on the simple method only. Implement it for a month and see the benefits for yourself. Make it a game – it’s a very tactile type of breath, so you get immediate feedback.
Then come back here and let us know about your experience. Did you amend our cocktail in any way, and how?
Did it work – or not – and why?
Summer and I are very keen to encourage our collective intelligence, so we can all benefit exponentially from what we learn and the energy we invest in trying these T.L.A.s.
Also – make sure you’re generous and send this info to anyone in your life you feel will try it out because they need it.
We can’t wait to hear what you come up with.
P.S. Stay curious. Never lose your colour & shine…