Would you like to up your cycling game? Or perhaps you’re wondering how breathwork tools can be integrated amidst day-to-day challenges no matter what your choice of movement for health and wellness?
This may trigger your curiosity to experiment with your own workouts.
Last year I shared a personal breakthrough online. It was the first time I overcame a fear of road cycling through busy inner-city streets and steep hills while experimenting with super-boosting energy prior to mounting my treadly using gamma meditation and ajna light treatment.
This year something switched gears again, shifting the feeling of pushing uphill into a new level of expanding uphill. It’s not a coincidence that I’ve been working with some new breathwork techniques these past months.
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If all roads lead to Rome, which tools lead to Eden?
Over the past few years, my daily breathwork routine has primarily included:
Breath of fire to start my day energised and focussed (a form of cleansing breath rooted in Kundalini yoga);
4-4-4-4 box breathing for nervous system regulation and resilience (widely recognised globally over recent years as a powerful technique); and
4-4-8 for calming, focus, reducing anxiety and inducing deep rest for sleep (a favourite way to drop into a state of deep calm).
Recently, whilst on a Wellness Force call with my fellow ambassadors, Josh Trent guided us through a short breath exercise, where we ended by holding an extended outbreath after expelling all air from our lungs for 30 seconds – a technique he’d embraced at the Soma Breath training in Koh Panghan at the time.
Extended out breath induces hypoxia – and the resultant feeling is pure bliss. It reminded me of a feeling I loved experiencing since a kid…holding my breath underwater in the bath for as long as comfortable (and safe), re-emerging in blissed-out euphoria.
The Soma Breathwork Experience
Founder of Soma Breath, Niraj Naik describes this process on the Renegade Pharmacist, “It is the pranayama technique, Kumbhaka, that creates hypoxia, the fastest breatholding experience, and is one of the most revered techniques for controlling energy in your body….True yogis speak of the importance of slowing down your breath in order to experience optimum health and mental clarity.”
Benefits of Mouth Taping During Sleep
Another breathing technique I’ve been experimenting with over the past few months is mouth taping. That’s lightly taping the mouth during sleep to encourage a natural habit of breathing with your mouth closed. Why? Breathing through the nostrils with our mouth closed increases nitric oxide which can increase oxygen supply to the vital organs, muscles, and cells, lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, improve oral microbiome, filter airborne toxins while encouraging deep breathing – which stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in deeper quality sleep. It’s worth the odd feeling of doing this the first few times.
So what can happen to our energy when we have greater quality sleep and take quality breathes – two of the foundations of life that the majority of people have long underestimated and are now beginning to wake up to?
Integrating Breathwork Into Your Life
What I discovered in the gifts of learning these tools has been the experience of integration revealing itself in the most unexpected moments – which to my delight came when upping the ante on my cycling commutes. Picking up the pace, consciously relaxing muscle tension for greater resilience, staying in higher gear longer, smashing my fear of hills and staying calm while navigating the city’s most busy roads all came through automatically integrating a number of tools. If there’s something I know to be true it’s this – take the time to learn your tools, add them to your toolbox with respect and they’ll present themselves in wonderful ways in perfect timing as if my magic.
So here’s what sprung to mind at the top of a long hill in fifth gear – a hill that less than a few months ago I would have been lucky to get to the top in first. The more I practiced nasal breathing held deep as I’m riding, the more energised I felt on these hills.
Nasal Breathing For Greater Vitality
creates greater vitality, while at the same time deep lung breathing creates a greater sense of flow and calm. So under higher intensity and stress, my energy felt completely different – my nervous system wasn’t in fight or flight mode (which has felt real for me in the past while road cycling hills) and I was instead experiencing the calm feeling of rest and digest (which was also a likely contributor to my newfound courage on the roads, exploring new paths, and generally wanting to continue upping the ante).
Nasal breathing also counters excessive CO2 release into the bloodstream that rapid mouth breathing does, so greater oxygen is made available for muscles, vital organs and cells to feel energised. And when we feel more energised, we’re more inclined to notch up the gears and push ourselves a little harder.
Experience Calmness Through Extended Outbreath
There was an interesting twist in the switch between two seemingly opposing techniques. Nasal breathing and extended outbreath. I discovered that at the right moments, it felt beneficial for me to maintain a (brief) extended outbreath on the downhill or on a straight (around 8 seconds, definitely not 30 seconds!). Whilst extended outbreath reduces oxygen intake, it provides that sense of calm, which is heightened with joy after the satisfying feeling of having just conquered a hill or zooming along a long straight – there’s nothing like that feeling of freedom flying on two wheels.
Regulating Adrenaline & Reducing Nausea
One final hack for when going strong: that feeling when you’re pushing your physical edge, and you feel a little nauseous but really want to keep up the pace of the challenge…that’s where the magic of pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth toward your front teeth comes in to save the day (nasal breathing helps place your tongue there naturally). By pressing the tip of your tongue toward the front of the top of your mouth, it regulates adrenaline by dropping you into deep breathing mode, which will drop the feeling of nausea pronto and return your focus on the road ahead.
Join The WF Breathwork Challenge
These a just a few seemingly small yet expansive ways to experience greater energy, resilience, and joy by integrating powerful tools in the day-to-day. If you’re looking for guidance on where to start with breathwork, Wellness Force has the perfect Breathwork Challenge to get you going.
About The Author | Amber Ward
Amber Ward is an international wellness expert whose super-power is matching people's energy with their mission. As a High-Performance Mentor and Credentialed Practitioner in Coaching, she guides visionaries, entrepreneurs and high achievers to fully optimize themselves using neuroscience, quantum physics, ancient wisdom and new technologies.
Having practiced meditation since her teens, ultimately it was her own experiences with PTSD and post-viral adrenal fatigue that led her to extensive research and practice in the areas of biohacking, neurohacking and expanding consciousness. She used these tools to overcome trauma, rebuild her immunity and energy, and rewire her nervous system and neural pathways. Using the Life UnLtd framework of Energetic Intelligence, she shares these tools with the world through her Optimized Self program.