Our Paced Breath Animations help you regulate your nervous system, lower your heart rate, and build your lung capacity over time (also referred to as increasing CO2 tolerance). Each video increases in exhale length. Start with the first video and use it for a week before moving on to the second video. It takes some practice to increase CO2 tolerance, so it’s best to work up to increasingly longer breaths. If you are interested in learning more about why we do paced breathing, make sure to read the text below.
Why Paced Breathing? When we are faced with due dates, assignments, meetings, and responsibilities, our autonomic nervous system can respond by going into “fight, flight, or freeze” (sympathetic response) which is the body’s way of responding to fear. When we know that we aren’t in real physical danger, we can employ Rebel Human practices to put our nervous system back into “rest and repair” (parasympathetic response) and face our responsibilities and emotions in a clear, calm, and steady state.
Anxiety runs rampant through our culture and is the most common mental health challenge in the United States. Anxiety and depression are often present together. Half of people diagnosed with depression also have an anxiety disorder. Oftentimes when we get anxious, we start taking more rapid and shallow breaths. This speeds up our heart rate and disrupts the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood leading to feeling even more anxious and distressed. It's a vicious cycle. Sometimes we can even bring on anxiety just by breathing improperly (or by drinking too much caffeine). The good news is that we can reverse engineer this physiological response and use our breath to hack our nervous system to reduce anxiety and bring about calm.
Our breath is a superpower! And manipulating our breath is a tool that everyone should know and use.
These animations train you in how to manipulate your breath in order to lower your heart rate, activate the calming arm of your nervous system, and neutralize the physiological state of anxiety.
Slowing down the exhale to double the length of the inhale stimulates the vagus nerve, which has a calming effect on the mind/body organism. Every time you do this practice, you create new neural connections in your brain. Over time your brain learns that you can be calm when challenged and that you have control over stress and anxiety. You learn a new way of being and showing up in the world.
Achieving 4-6 breaths per minute has been studied and shown to not only decrease stress and anxiety, but also increase focus and cognitive functions. These animations systematically build lung capacity (also known as CO2 tolerance), working up to 4-breaths per minute in the third video (10 second exhale). The fourth video (12 second exhale) is an advanced practice that might take you months to build up to.
The animations will help you become proficient in this practice and make it progressively easier to do proper diaphragmatic breaths and lengthen your breath cycle. Once you know this well, you won’t be dependent on the animations and can use this technique anytime, and anywhere. You can do it during class, during an exam, during competition, even during difficult conversations. You can practice while walking down the hall between classes, while cooking, doing homework, while at home with family, and while hanging out with friends.
We want you to have autonomy over your nervous system, internal dialogue, emotional state, and self-concept, and being able to manipulate your breath is the first step.