Breathing is one of the most overlooked tools to control our body’s physiology and psychology. According to experts, breathing exercises hold the potential to improve decision-making, immune response, stress, and more! In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of practicing breathwork, particularly coherent breathing.
Breathing is an essential process for all living things. We take between 17,000 and 23,000 breaths per day to pump and deliver oxygen throughout our organs.  Thanks to this process, we can supply oxygen to each one of our cells and provide them with the energy needed to complete everyday metabolic tasks. 
Yet, regardless of the evident crucial role that breathing has on people’s health and performance, the surprising number of us who do not use the power of our breath is alarming. Through breathing exercises alone, people gain the ability to control their physiology and psychology during stressful events. 
According to researchers, using breathing techniques improves our ability to switch from our sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system (and vice versa) with ease.  This allows people to either enter a state of rest and relaxation where the oxygen is directed to the gut, brain and immune system or enter a state of alertness where the oxygen is directed to our muscles.  By mastering this ability, energy is used efficiently, thus, allowing people to achieve peak performance. 
Moreover, research shows breathwork can prevent and treat numerous diseases such as:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 
Lung cancer 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 
Chronic back pain 
High blood pressure 
Type 2 diabetes 
Motion sickness 
People looking to excel should master their ability to control their cardiovascular system since it’s one of the best indicators for optimal performance. After all, the heart, blood vessels, and blood modulate the flow of oxygen through the body, therefore, its energy expenditure.
Although there are different ways of gaining control over the cardiovascular system, people have successfully hacked it with ease through breathwork alone. Scientific literature shows that certain breathing exercises can influence key biomarkers for peak performance. Some of these include:
Heart rate variability or HRV 
Heart rate 
Blood pressure 
Moreover, some of the most popular breathing exercises practice by experts to modulate their cardiovascular system include:
Holotropic breathing 
Coherent breathing 
Pranayama breathing 
Wim Hof breathing 
Box breathing 
But which is the best breathing exercise for optimal performance?
Coherent breathing has gained a lot of popularity in the past decades due to its ability to increase HRV. Raising your HRV results in a "coherent" state where a person’s blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration are all in sync. This state is known as the resonance frequency. 
A high HRV also translates to mastery of switching from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system (and vice versa). As aforementioned, this mastery results in optimal energy expenditure. 
Furthermore, studies suggest that the ideal breathing pace that creates "coherence" and raises one’s HRV the greatest varies from person to person. However, on average, the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation to increase one’s HRV is about 5.5 seconds in and 5.5 seconds out. 
Researchers also revealed that a high HRV can: 
Facilitate flow state
Improve emotional regulation
Increase stress management
Boost the brain’s executive function
Learning the secrets of breathing exercises can increase your health and overall performance. By mastering a few breathing patterns, a person can gain control over their autonomic responses and choose an adequate physiological response to whatever challenge they are facing.
In particular, breathwork targeted to modulate the cardiovascular system such as coherent breathing shows the most promising benefits among elite performers. Thus, individuals looking to get ahead of their competition should implement this exercise into their routine.
Have you tried coherent breathing already? Join us today and learn more about how to unleash your true potential from our panel of experts at Athena InsideOut Education.
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