Dr. Avanti Kumar-Singh is the author of The Health Catalyst and an Ayurvedic wellness expert on a mission to show that Ayurveda can be a catalyst to achieve optimal wellness in modern life…
The Fatigue Solution: 3 Ways to Lengthen Your Breath
to Instantly Increase Your Energy
The weather has turned, the days are getting shorter and suddenly we want to make soups and stews. Summer is gone… and Fall is here. For many people, this season brings with it feelings of fatigue after a season filled with activity and warmer temperatures.
According to Ayurveda, what is outside of us also shows up inside of us. And the heat in nature combined with the heat from increased activity — social and physical — causes internal heat to rise. Just as a fire burning strong for many hours will eventually “burn out”, by the beginning of fall it’s common for many of us to do the same. If I told you that you could instantly decrease your fatigue and increase your energy by breathing differently, would you do it? Of course you would. Because all of us need to increase our energy at some point over the course of a day. Instead of drinking another cup of coffee or grabbing a sugary snack, try this breath technique.
Your breath can control your nervous system. The breath and the nervous system are connected at many levels. In high school biology, you probably heard the example of a caveman running from a lion which would activate the “flight-or-fight” or acute stress response, which prepares the body to defend and protect itself. This response is activated by the sympathetic nervous system and causes the pupils to dilate, the heart to pump faster, the blood pressure to increase and the breath to become shallow and rapid. When the threat is gone, the parasympathetic nervous system gets activated and creates the “rest-and-digest” or relaxation response. The breath and heart rate slow down and the body begins to repair and rejuvenate itself. So the nervous system has a direct affect on the breath.
Well, it turns out that the reverse is also true. The breath has a direct affect on the nervous system. And if you know how to affect your breath, you can also affect your nervous system.
Your inhale can increase your energy.
There are two parts of the breath — the inhale and the exhale. The inhale revs you up and the exhale brings you down. So anytime you’re low on energy, feeling tired, or you’re feeling blue or down, focus on your inhale. Specifically, lengthen your inhale.
3 ways to lengthen your breath for energy:
1. Count: Count your natural inhale and increase the count by 1 or 2. For example, if it’s a natural count of 2, increase it to 3.
2. Link to a movement– Coordinate your breath with a simple movement. Then to lengthen the inhale, add a second movement. For example, start by coordinating your inhale with raising your arms from your sides all the way up to the sky. Then add a pause halfway up before continuing to the sky.
3. Say an affirmation– In your mind, repeat an affirmation as you inhale. Then to lengthen the inhale, add a few words onto the affirmation. For example, say “I am strong.” Then add on and say “I am strong and energized.”
The next time you need an extra boost of energy to get going in the morning or during the day, skip the sugar and caffeine and try breathing differently.