Earlier this week we talked about proper breathing mechanics and how it influences posture and assists in creating stability for our core/trunk.
Today, I’ll give you the tools to learn how to control your body's physiology.
Before that though, you need to understand how your Autonomic Nervous System operates. Think of your ANS like a light switch composed of a sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
Your Sympathetic Nervous System is your "Flight or Fight" Response.
Your Parasympathetic Nervous System is your "Rest & Digest" Response.
The sympathetic response varies in a multitude of different "stressors"; from exercise, work stress, over-training, sleep-deprivation, inflammation from foods, overeating, undereating, etc.
Parasympathetic is where our bodies can properly digest food, recover from training, sleep better, etc.
This is why the food we eat goes so much deeper than calories and macros. How you eat, where you eat, when you eat and who you eat with - all play a significant role.
Fun Fact: Eating in a stressed state predisposes you to leaky gut syndrome, inadequate digestive enzyme production, poor nutrient absorption and over-eating. (Ok, it wasn’t that fun – but it’s true!)
So, now you see the importance of being in a parasympathetic state! Now, this doesn't mean we want to avoid the sympathetic state. We just want to make sure that we have acute responses not just a chronic sympathetic tone.
Stress is good. If we can properly recover from it (this is how you get those big muscles inside the gym).
Now, let's talk about the tools and tactics you can use to facilitate a parasympathetic tone.
The number one tool we have is our BREATH!
With something as simple as a 4sec inhale where you pause at the top and take an 8 sec exhale. We can decrease sympathetic tone.
Don't believe me!? Next time you start to feel overwhelmed go through 10 cycles of that count and tell me how you feel.
If you never put conscious effort and practice to your breath, you will always have a hard time summoning this power.
Welcome to meditating! I personally started meditating about 18months ago and really consistently began in the past 5-6months.
Not going to lie, the first 12 weeks I thought it was some fairytale bullshit! How would sitting in one place to focus on my breath make a difference to anything?
*Now you all know why we do a 12 week commitment for our memberships. Nothing with your health can be healed inside of 90 days.
But then one day at work I was starting to feel a little irritable and frustrated. Then out of nowhere my practice came to use, I began to focus on my breath and immediately felt the benefits!
I am forever a believer now in the power of breathing and will keep this as part of my routine/lifestyle.
Start with 5 mins and work your way up on time. Start with an app like Calm or Headspace and then you can transition to unguided if you feel you are ready.
Your breath is your strongest tool in your toolbox to relieve stress. So, we need to train it like every other muscle in our body.
So, if you’re feeling like you’re having a hard time controlling stress - start meditating and commit to 90 days before you judge your results!