Given that 70% of our brain’s energy comes from oxygen, the most foundational element to effective training is healthy oxygen intake.
Unfortunately, most of us develop an inefficient style of breathing early in life characterized by shallow, rapid breaths from the chest at a pace that averages more than eight breaths per minute. The resulting poor oxygen intake leads to less than optimal brain functionin and an unstable cardiovascular system. These two deficits work in concert to create a stress response throughout the body. For many of us this stress response is perpetual.
Forunately, improving our oxygen intake is as simple as learning the discipline of proper breathing. Proper breathing involves using our stomach muscles in a rhythmic, smooth manner rather than our chest muscles. By using our diaphragm to expand lung capacity, our oxygen intake can be significantly increased.
What Is My Cohesion Percentage?
As seen below, our heart rate and breating training screens have three bars in the upper left hand corner. The blue bar measures slow heart rate functioning (parasympathetic), the green bar measures optimal heart rate functioning (homeostasis) and the pink bar measures fast heart rate functioning (sympathetic). If oxygen is at the correct rate, volume, and rhythm the blue should be less than 5%. Your cohesion (LF% on the screen) is the cumulative average of your green bar over your entire session. The goal you should be setting for yourself is a cohesion percentage consistency over 80%.
Poorly Regulated Breathing vs. Optimal Breathing
Notice how the green bar is less than 80% and the heartrate and breathing are out of sync. This is the result of poorly regulated breathing.
Notice how the green bar is more than 80% and the heartrate and breathing are in sync. This is the result of optimal breathing.
Cohesion Up Practice
1. Abdominal muscle stretching and strengthening.
- Sit comfortably in a chair with your hand on your stomach.
- Push your stomach out as far as possible.
- Use your hand to pull your stomach in as far as possible.
- Perform 10 repetitions of this out and in stretching excercise to achieve 1 set.
- Perform 3-6 sets a day.
You should feel a slight stretching of the stomach muscles when pushing out and a pulling of the stomach muscles when pulling your stomach back into your spine. You do not need to pace your breathing during this excercise. The sole purpose of this excercise is muscle stretching and strengthening.
2. Breathing Pacer
During your breathing training at Neurocore you may have used a breathing bar to pace your breathing. It is strongly recommended that you use a similar pager at home, at school and/or at your office. The pacer we recommend is EZ-Air. This pacer can be downloaded to your home computer or laptop from www.BFE.org. Set the pacer speed between 6-8 breaths per minute and practice for 5 minutes at least 2 times a day. You should set your exhale slightly (.2-.3 seconds) longer than your inhale. Additionally, a 1-2 second pause at the end of your inhale and exhale will further enhance cohesion % by increasing oxygen exchange into your blood stream. It is recommended that you place your hand on your stomach during this excercise so you can feel your stomach stretching out when the pacer rises and pulling in when the pacer lowers.
3. Back Breathing
- Find a comfortable spot to lay on the floor with a pillow under your head
- Place a book or flat object on your stomach.
- Place your hand on your chest.
- As you inhale, cause the object to move upward.
- As you exhale, cause the object to move downward.
- Watch this up and down motion of the object and develop a steady rhythm of 6-8 breaths per minute.
- Observe hand on chest and try to keep your chest as still as possible.
- Engage in this “back breathing” for at least 5 minutes, 2 times a day.
This excercise is also very helpful to implement if you are having trouble falling asleep at night or find it difficult to fall back asleep if you awaken during the night. When you are implementing this during the night, you can use your hand on your stomach rather than a book or a flat object. This is also a very effective way to teach young children to breathe using their diaphragm.
Need More Help?
Developing a high cohesion percentage is vital to your Brain Training. If you do not see improvement after 3-4 weeks of daily implementation, please let us know by either talking directly to one of your technicians or contacting our clinical nurse, Amy Royer (firstname.lastname@example.org).