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Breathing for Energy – A Biohack for More Vitality

Breathing for Energy – A Biohack for More Vitality

We’ve all had that one day when we feel completely drained of energy, sometimes even without an explicit cause. Luckily, there is an ever-available and clever way to outsmart your body to gain back and boost vitality: “breathing for energy.” Specific breathing exercises for energy can indeed influence your autonomous nervous system, specifically the parasympathetic branch, and provide you with newfound and instant vigor and liveliness. In this article, CARE will introduce you to these essential self-care tools to biohack your body by learning about breathwork for energy.

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE
Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach

Published in General Health
7 min read · Feb 12, 2024

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How Can Breathing Boost Your Energy?

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Breathing for energy may sound like hocus-pocus or a spiritual approach, but certain breathing techniques are indeed scientifically proven to increase your energy levels by increasing oxygen and blood flow to your brain. [1]

Breathing, often a subconscious act, can significantly boost your energy, transforming how you feel and function if you consciously adjust it. If you pay attention to it, you typically practice shallow breathing or rapid breathing without being conscious of this. Taking shallow breaths is not ideal for your physical health since the amount of oxygen you breathe in is limited.

Conversely, engaging in deep, mindful breathing increases oxygen transportation to your brain and muscles, invigorating your body and enhancing mental clarity. [2]

By taking deep and conscious breaths, you increase the amount of oxygen that enters your lungs. This oxygen is then transferred to your bloodstream, where it is delivered to your cells. Cells use oxygen in a process called cellular respiration, which is how they generate most of the energy (in the form of ATP) your body needs for various functions.

This oxygenation process recharges your physical state and stimulates the release of endorphins, nature's feel-good chemicals, elevating your mood and energy levels. [3]

Furthermore, the right breathing technique for energy can help regulate your body's response to stress, reducing your stress hormones (cortisol levels) and promoting a sense of calmness, thereby conserving energy that might otherwise be drained by anxiety and tension. [1] [3]

Regular practice of deep breathing exercises for instant energy, such as diaphragmatic breathing or controlled breathwork, can improve your lung capacity and efficiency, ensuring a more effective and energizing oxygen exchange throughout the day. [4]

By consciously incorporating breathing techniques for energy into your daily routine, you can biohack your energy levels and establish a natural, sustainable source of vitality, enhancing both your physical and mental well-being.

But what are the best breathing techniques for energy, and how do you practice them correctly?

What Are the Best Breathing Techniques to Improve Energy Levels?

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1. Deep Breathing – Basic Technique for Beginners

  • Description: Deep breathing involves taking slow, deep breaths to engage your lungs fully. Unlike other specific and more advanced techniques like pranayama, deep breathing is quite easy and can be a great starter technique for beginners. Deep breathing is often the basic foundation for other forms of breathwork exercises.
  • How to Do It: Sit or lie comfortably. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, filling your lungs, then exhale slowly through your mouth or nose. Each breath should be deep enough to expand your abdomen.
  • Benefits: Increases oxygen and blood flow, reduces stress, and improves cognitive function and energy levels. [1] [5]

2. Pranayama Breathing – Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • Description: Pranayama breathing, often referred to as yoga breathing since it is a key component of yoga, involves various techniques, with alternate nostril breathing being one popular form. Pranayama is more structured and rhythmic compared to basic deep breathing since it involves alternate breathing through your left and right nostrils to balance energy channels.
  • How to Do It: Sit comfortably. Use your thumb to close your right nostril and inhale deeply through the left. Close the left nostril with your fingers, open the right, and exhale deeply through your right nostril. Now, inhale through the right nostril, then switch and exhale through the left.
  • Benefits: Balances the nervous system, improves lung function, and enhances mental focus. [3] [5]

3. Diaphragmatic Breathing

  • Description: This breathing technique for energy focuses on engaging the diaphragm, a major muscle in your respiratory system. Your diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle located just below your lungs and above your stomach, and you can feel it contracting and moving downwards when you take a deep breath in, pushing your abdomen outward. Diaphragmatic breathing is similar to deep breathing but specifically focuses on your diaphragm. It's more targeted compared to the general approach of deep breathing.
  • How to Do It: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, feeling your diaphragm move upwards, then exhale slowly.
  • Benefits: Increases lung capacity, reduces stress, and improves stamina. [4] [5]

4. Box Breathing – A Technique From The Navy SEALs

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  • Description: Box breathing, also known as square breathing, is a technique used by the Navy SEALs to stay focused and energized in even the most demanding situations. It involves equal parts inhalation, holding the breath, exhalation, and holding again. This technique is more structured with pauses compared to other techniques. Unlike pranayama, it doesn’t involve nostril alternation, and it has a distinct rhythm.

  • How to Do It: Imagine a box pattern for your breathing rhythm with 4 boxes. Inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for four, exhale for four, and then hold again for four seconds. Repeat this cycle.

  • Benefits: Helps in stress management, improves concentration and energy, and regulates the autonomic nervous system. [2] [5]

How Does Breathwork Compare to Meditation?

Do you find similarities between breathing for energy and meditation? While both breathing for energy and meditation share a fundamental similarity in their use of focused breath to enhance cognitive function and mental clarity, they are still distinctively different.

Breathwork, with its focused approach to controlled breathing techniques, offers a dynamic pathway to energy enhancement, distinct from meditation's emphasis on mental tranquility and mindfulness. Breathing for energy leverages the power of varied breathing techniques and patterns to directly and rapidly stimulate the body’s autonomic nervous system and, consequently, energy levels, diverging from meditation's more passive engagement with breath as a tool for mental grounding. [1] [3] [5] [6]

The deliberate modulation of breathing in energy breathwork can swiftly influence the autonomic nervous system, leading to an immediate surge in oxygenation and energy. This process is typically more gradual in meditation. This active involvement with breath dynamics facilitates notable physiological changes, such as heightened alertness and decreased stress hormones, fostering an instant boost in vitality.  [5]

While meditation gently nudges your mind towards a state of deep relaxation and heightened awareness, often with a nuanced impact on energy levels, breathwork stands out for its pronounced and immediate influence on physical and mental vigor. Hence, energy breathwork is a distinct, more immediate avenue for energizing your body and clarifying the mind. [6]

Scientific Studies on the Impact of Breathwork

Multiple studies on breathwork and breathing for energy have demonstrated various health benefits, including enhanced respiratory efficiency, improved stress management, improvements in autonomic functions, and increased mental clarity. [1] [3] [4] [5]

Research has consistently shown that regular practice of specific breathing techniques, such as pranayama, can significantly improve autonomic functions like heart rate and blood pressure, thereby boosting energy and overall well-being. Scientific studies underline the positive impact of breathwork on cognitive functions, including improved focus and faster reaction times, making it a valuable tool for both your physical and mental rejuvenation. [1] [5]

In the following chapter, CARE will outline one important study and a significant review and their conclusions on breathing for energy.

Study #1

A 2004 study from the National Library of Medicine investigated the impact of breathwork, particularly pranayama, on young adults aged 17-19. After three months of regular practice, the participants showed significant improvements in autonomic functions, including lowered blood pressure and heart rate, indicating enhanced physiological regulation. [5]

Review #2

A comprehensive review in the Journal of Ayurvedic and Integrative Medicine analyzed the effects of various styles of pranayama on physical and psychological functions over several weeks. It found that pranayama breathing positively influences cognitive function, reaction time, blood pressure, and stress levels, highlighting its multifaceted benefits on overall health and well-being. [3]

Take a Deep Breath With CARE

As we've navigated the intricate pathways of breathwork and its numerous health benefits, it's become evident that breathing for energy isn't just a new wellness trend; it's a powerful tool in preventive healthcare to optimize your health.

The studies and techniques discussed in this article highlight how regular, mindful breathing can significantly enhance autonomic functions and cognitive abilities, contributing to long-term health and vitality. This proactive approach to your health, focusing on preventing issues before they arise, is a cornerstone of what CARE, as your preventive healthcare provider, stands for. It is crucial to reduce your risk of chronic diseases, minimize healthcare costs, and improve your overall quality of life. By integrating breathwork into your daily routines, you not only empower yourself with a natural, accessible method for maintaining health but also contribute to a broader culture of wellness and prevention.

As you embrace the power of breath, let it be a reminder of the simple yet profound ways we can nurture our health, paving the way for a healthier, more vibrant life. Happy breathing, and here's to a journey filled with wellness and health!

List of References

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE

Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach at CARE Zurich

About the author

Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!