It’s your body’s job to house and protect your brain, but did you know that you can also use your body to strengthen your mind? In this article, you’re going to learn how to use your body to ignite your day. This short morning ritual can be done in under 9 minutes (including showering), and will set you up to crush the day!
A strong mind-body connection helps you stay focused by synchronizing your thoughts with your body. When your brain and body are both on the same page, staying on task happens naturally. You’re also going to learn why your brain loves movement, and how to engage your body in a way that fuels your brain. The more movement you expose your body to, the more exercise your brain gets at processing information. In short, more movement and exercise equals a healthier brain. Let’s get after it.
Give Your Brain the Movement it Craves
The more practice your brain gets at processing incoming sensory input the better. Stick to this short 9-minute morning routine for just 5 days and feel the difference. Laser-sharp focus? Yes, please! You should notice that it’s easier to stay locked-in throughout the day when you snap your body to attention first thing in the morning.
Start taking action right now with this simple routine. You might not have the time in your schedule for a full-on workout, but we all have a few minutes to invest in ourselves. One of the best ways to jumpstart your brain is by getting an explosive start with movement. Since all healthy movement starts with quality breathing, we’ll start there first.
Here is the whole process which will take less than 9 minutes:
1. Take a Breather
This exercise borrows heavily from the Wim Hof method. An absolute force of nature, Wim Hof is a true explorer of the human condition. His personal development exploits have literally rewritten the science textbooks. Through breathing exercises and cold exposure, he’s proven in clinical settings that it’s possible to consciously control the autonomic nervous system.
How did Wim Hof prove this? He can maintain his core body temperature in freezing temperatures as well as avoid getting sick when injected with large amounts of harmful bacteria. Not only that but in one experiment, he was able to train a small group of students with no previous experience to do the same. All with breathing exercises and cold exposure therapy!
Deep breathing is a great tool for grounding yourself in moments of high stress. While you sleep, your breathing is shallow, as most sleeping positions restrict the expansion of the diaphragm, chest, and stomach. That’s why the first step in preparing for the day is to warm up your diaphragm and gain access to the full depth of your breathing.
This way, when you need to calm yourself with a deep breath, your body is ready for it. When your alarm goes off, hop right out of bed. Stand in front of the mirror, and take in thirty deep breathes, bringing as much air as you can each time, and emptying your lungs fully when you exhale. Do this at whatever pace feels comfortable.
On the final exhale, push all the air out of your lungs and hold for 10 seconds, then breathe in as fully as you can and hold for another 10 to 15 seconds. The final holding phase stretches your stomach outwards so you have better breathing mechanics throughout the day. If you find yourself having to pause to yawn, that’s a good sign; it means your brain is waking up.
Repeat 3 times. Breathing in this way improves brain chemistry by increasing the expression of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein critical to memory and learning.
“When you are at home, even if the chicken is a little burnt, what’s the big deal? Relax.” – Jacques Pepin
2. Test Your New and Improved Breathing with Movement
Follow-up your breathing exercise with 10 squats and 5 push-ups, all the while breathing as deeply as you can.
Now it’s time to make a quick and cold shower part of your morning routine. Tony Robbins used to do this religiously before getting cryogenic therapy installed in his homes. Fair warning, he hated taking cold showers but took them anyway because nothing was more effective at putting him in the moment, ready for the day.
I like to take a hot shower, then blast it on freezing-cold for 10-15 seconds before flipping it back to warm. I leave feeling refreshed. It’s not as hardcore as the way Tony used to do it, but it’s easier to tolerate and build into a habit.
“Everyone who has taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it that makes a difference.” – Nolan Bushnell
These are all ideas for how to quickly engage your body and brain to have a more productive day. You know yourself better than anyone else, so feel free to play around with different ways to invigorate your morning with movement (you can substitute any exercise you want for push-ups and squats).
Direct your attention to your breathing, and reap the rewards of a focused mind. The more comfortable you are physically, the more relaxed you’ll be mentally, and the more receptive people will be to what you have to say. So start off the day right by synchronizing your body and mind, and strap on your seatbelt for a productive day!
How do you tend to begin your mornings? Do you think it makes for a productive day? Let us know by commenting below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
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