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Before you reach for that third cup of coffee or sugary energy drink: try a stimulating breathing exercise to increase your energy level and make you more alert and focused. This exercise called the Bellows Breath is noisy, so defining the right space in which to practice is important.
1- Keeping your mouth relaxed and closed, inhale and exhale quickly through your nose. The inhaled and exhaled breaths should be of equal length.
2- A single breath cycle is equivalent to one inhalation and one exhalation. Attempt to establish a breathing pattern of 3 cycles per second. This quick breath cycle causes your diaphragm (the breathing muscle) to move up and down during the respiratory cycle.
3- Initially attempt this breathing exercise for up to 15 seconds at a time. If you find yourself getting light headed stop, breath normally and resume your intrinsic cycle. With practice, you will discover that you are able to increase the amount of time during which you are engaged in the routine. You will become progressively less symptomatic with exercise repetition. Set a full minute at a time as your goal for the exercise. Always resume normal breathing when you are finished with either a portion of, or the full protocol.
Following completion of this routine, you may experience muscle fatigue in your chest, abdomen and posterior neck, as if you have pursued a vigorous workout. This breathing exercise may provide the equivalent of an energy boost or an endorphin release that will carry you forward throughout your day with renewed strength and clarity of focus.
Page Baker, DPT
Board Certified Pelvic Physical Therapist
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