Scan Magazine | Issue 73 | February 2015

Page 73

2_6_ScanMag_72_Feb_2014_Text_Q9_Scan Magazine 1 04/02/2015 10:59 Page 73

Scan Business Key Note 73 | Conferences of the Month 74 | Business Calendar 77 | Business Column 78




Take a breath By Paul Blackhurst, Client Director at Mannaz

As you read these words, do you notice yourself breathing? I assume that you are breathing; otherwise, you will not make it to the end of the article. (Or will you? – keep reading) Research suggests that we should pay more attention to something we do 25,000-35,000 times each day. Danish free-diving World Champion Stig Severinsen uses his own body as a laboratory and uses his medical knowledge to coach people in the benefits of conscious breathing. What gives Stig the right to advise others? Well, he spent 22 minutes under water without breathing, capturing the Guinness World Record in May 2012. Two years earlier, he swam 76 metres under ice wearing nothing but a bathing suit and goggles. The previous record was below 15 metres. Stig, and his 14-litre lung capacity, seems to know something. Stig estimates that most of us use around 60 per cent of the capacity of our lungs and yet the impact of the way we breathe on the way we feel and our general health is immense. For business people, breathing correctly holds the key to controlling stress, to building rapport and to creating a sense of positive wellbeing.

When stressed, we tend to breathe in a shallow, fast way using the top part of the lungs. This engages the sympathetic nervous system with its consequent adrenaline and cortisol production, increased heart rate and raised blood pressure. Our focus narrows and our ability to think diminishes. Good breathing, however, especially the focus on the outbreath, engages the parasympathetic nervous system and taps into the Vagus nerve (from Latin, meaning wandering, like a vagrant or a vagabond) which connects the brain to the lungs, heart, and most internal organs. The “ahhh� noise you make when you sit down after a long day is the outbreath that turns on the Vagus nerve and prepares the body to rest, digest and do our best thinking. Breath holding, as the pranayama yoga gurus have known for a very long time, also builds mental strength as we learn we can overcome the panic response that comes when we are short of breath. Wherever you are, you have the chance to focus on your breathing. Inhale through the nose, use your diaphragm to breathe into your belly, lower your shoulders, relax your jaw and relax your tongue (you will look strange but trust me). Breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a

count of four and exhale for a count of eight. Do that several times and you should feel more relaxed and in control because you are spending more time on the outbreath. If that feels a little weird, try singing. When we sing, we typically spend longer breathing out as we hold the note and this has the same physiological effect. So, depending on where you are right now, practice longer outbreaths or burst into song. And, remember, what happens in Vagus, stays in Vagus.

Paul Blackhurst

Issue 73 | February 2015 | 73

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