Variability is defined as a lack of consistency or pattern. An environment of change. In certain aspects of performance variability is perceived as a negative, but with breathing the ability to call upon varied breathing patterns is a strength.
Breathing directly influences your Autonomic Nervous System involving the activation of the sympathetic branch (fight or flight) or the parasympathetic branch (rest, relaxation, digestion). The goal of an individual is to create relative balance between the two branches, and activate the desired branch for a specific environment. For example, if the individual desires a restful night’s sleep the parasympathetic branch should be activated. If one is preparing for an intense sporting event, the sympathetic might be the preferred choice.
Shorter, shallower breathing is synonymous with the sympathetic branch and slower, deeper breathing is related to the parasympathetic branch. Unfortunately, most findings have discovered in our fast paced world that most individuals are sympathetic dominant.
Creating a relative balance between parasympathetic and the sympathetic branch can help:
- Cognitive Abilities
- Ability To Self-Regulate
- Coordination / Agility
- Cardiovascular Health
Below you will find different techniques you can begin to practice to create variability and stimulate the appropriate branch for a given situation. Numbers are based on seconds (inhale – pause – exhale), x represents explosiveness. Begin to explore the different breathing techniques daily, and notice any subtle shifts or change in your state.
Anxious Moments: 6 – 4 – 10
Enhance Alertness: 3 – 0 – x
Create Ease: 5 – 0 – 5
Relaxation: 4 – 7 – 8
Meditation: 8 – 4 – 12
Bedtime: 6 – 4 -12