Taking a moment for yourself is sometimes the hardest thing we do all day, but in all reality it is also one of the most needed things we can do. Over the past month I have made it my priority to allow myself more time when breathing to actually be present with myself. As is the case for all of us, when life picks up, we search for the areas in which we can cut corners and find more time so that we don’t feel “rushed”. In my experience (and this tends to happen a few times a year) cutting short the time I set aside for myself does not yield any extra productivity. In fact the exact opposite happens; I get caught up things that take away from my daily goals and never actually feel like I accomplished anything.
So I want to take this opportunity today to let you in on my before bed routine that I began in April. If you are consistent with this routine every day you be able to push the intervals a bit more, which will allow you to understand on a deeper level how breathing can benefit you (disclaimer: this also might send you down the rabbit hole, but sometimes that is the best place to find yourself).
Wim Hof method of Breathing:
By now most of you have heard about Wim Hof. Whether it has been in conversation with one of the coaches at Kingfield, a blog I have written in the past, or the interwebs; Wim Hof has become more and more mainstream with his method. In my opinion, this is due in part to the fact that we as a society are drawn to things that are new and exciting. Superventialtion and cold water immersion are now becoming common place as people are finding out how they can benefit from taking time to understand their physiology deeper (I found that spending the better part of 6 months practicing with Wim’s method exclusively gave me a much better understanding of my own breath practice and what it is that I am truly looking for). So what is the Wim Hof method of breathing? It is simply a hyperventilating technique in which you want to complete a full inhale into your diaphragm and relax the exhale, completing this 30 to 40 time in fairly rapid succession. Upon the conclusion of your last inhale simply relax your exhale and hold your breath without any air in your lungs. You will find that you are calm and can sit for an extended period of time without air. When you feel yourself starting to need a breath, simply breathe in fully and hold your breath with air in your lungs for 15 seconds. After that slowly exhale and repeat the cycle (generally 3 to 4 times).
Why down regulate before bed?
When utilizing the Wim Hof method we are raising the oxygen levels in our tissues. This will allow you to hold your breath longer without air in your lungs. As a byproduct, using this style of breathing helps us to to get deeper in the 1.4.2 apnea cycles, inevitably causing us to down regulate and become much more calm.
At the conclusion of my day I have found it most helpful to take 35 to 40 minutes to start winding down and getting myself ready to sleep. This generally happens about 60 to 90 minutes before bed. Starting with nasal breathing in a calm and focused position I reflect back on my day and start putting aside anything that got me worked up. If I had a pretty easy day than I begin shifting my focus to how my body feels, and begin releasing tension via my breathing. After about 5 minutes of focused breathing, I begin 5 cycles of a nasal inhale/mouth exhale apnea protocol. This helps calm my mood and bring some focus to my breathing mechanics and how my mind is handling stress. I follow this with two rounds of Wim Hof breathing with short breath holds. My focus here is a medium pace cadence with full diaphragmatic tidal volume. I repeat this cycle of apnea and Wim Hof one more time, before ending with one last round of apnea breathing. Take some time this week for yourself, try and detach from your day and be okay with the effort you put in. There comes a time in each day when we begin working against ourselves, rather than for our self. I believe that finding where that line is for you will make all the difference in the world.
Down regulating breathing protocol: 35 minutes
- 5 minutes of focused and calm nasal breathing sitting cross-legged or in half lotus
- 5 cycles of a 1.4.2 apnea protocol with 5/20/10 (inhale/hold/exhale)
- 2 full cycles of 30 medium pace Wim Hof breaths with :60 breath hold without air in the lungs
- 5 cycles of a 1.4.2 apnea protocol with 6/24/12 (inhale/hold/exhale)
- 2 full cycles of 20 medium pace Wim Hof breaths with :60 breath hold without air in the lungs
- 5 cycles of a 1.4.2 apnea protocol with 7/28/14 (inhale/hold/exhale)
Give these a try and good luck!