Just thinking about breathing exercises may make you feel sleepy, conjuring images of yogis and expert meditators in zen-like states. And yes, controlling your breath can absolutely calm you down but it can also energize you and/or help you to focus. So whether you’re about to go into a big pitch meeting and need a little extra sharpness or you just want an edge before diving into an intimidating work assignment, the following breathing exercises could help.
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Why: Developed by Mark Divine, a former Navy SEAL commander, this technique is known to help boost concentration and performance. How? According to Healthline, it works by allowing C02 to build up in your blood which stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system (AKA your “rest and digest” system).
How: Start by breathing in for four, holding for four, breathing out for four, then holding for four. You can increase the count as you master the exercise, but always keep all four “sides” of the box (inhale, hold, exhale, hold) the same duration. Try following along with this video.
Breath Of Fire
Why: This yoga technique is known to help with circulation and blood flow in the liver, spleen, and stomach and to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. In this way, it can leave you feeling alert, energized, and may even help with digestion.
How: A guided practice really helps with this one! Follow along with Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene here. Essentially, you’re going to take quick breaths in and out of your nose as you suck in our belly button.
The Step Up
Why: From Shift, this one is recommended to improve focus and reset your nervous system, getting it ready to “do some work.”
How: Follow the guided video here. Teaser: You’re going to inhale and exhale for two seconds each, then jump into “super-ventilation” for 20 breaths in and out of your nose. Then you’re going to exhale and hold for 30 seconds. Then repeat, but step the first part up to three seconds inhale, three seconds exhale.