Many people resort to caffeine in the morning to get their heart and head started. Several years ago I came up with an alternative that seems to work for me when employed as I will later describe.
I have no scientific research to back this up, only my personal experience. I do not advise anyone to follow the steps I outline here. Perhaps a physician can advise you properly.
The thinking goes like this: I always feel more alert, aware, and alive even after a brief amount of exercise in the morning. After only 10-15 minutes of moderate exercise I feel ready to start my day — at least as much as I ever will during that day.
What caused this change in attitude/disposition following a brief period of exercise? What physiological/psychological effects have occurred as a result of this period of exercise?
Aerobic exercise causes a near immediate increase in the following vital signs:
- heart rate,
- blood pressure,
- lung/diaphragm involvement,
- and lactic acid levels in the bloodstream.
Are these effects enough to cause a change in a person’s attitude when first waking up?
What if we were able to induce these same effects without the aid of exercise or stimulants?
It turns out you can accomplish these same effects by simply holding your breath while you lay there in your morning stupor. However, holding your breath is a skill that requires practice while you are fully awake so that you can still do it properly while semi-comatose. For me the best way is to take a few long, slow, and deep cleansing breaths followed by a very slow, prolonged exhale. Passing an almost imperceptible stream of air through my vocal cords. The exhale is less than a whisper’s worth of air sustained for a minute or more. Set your vocal cords initially as if you were about to enunciate the short “a” vowel sound but never vocalize it until the last remaining gasp of air is finally evacuated from your lungs. Then immediately inhale fully and repeat this same exhale one more and final time.
If panic sets in during your exhale try releasing a small burst of air into your closed mouth from your lungs and continue a slow exhale simultaneously from your lungs and out your mouth. This technique seems to delay the brain’s auto breathe takeover mechanism.
In two long purging breaths I can take my heart rate from 55 BPM to 85 BPM and I feel as alert as if I had run for 15 minutes. I have repurposed a phone application originally intended to measure BPM for songs to get a fast and accurate heart rate. By tapping the screen in unison with the pulse in your neck you can determine your heart rate in a few seconds, even while in a semi-comatose condition. See http://www.androidzoom.com/android_applications/lifestyle/bpm-counter_gcox.html
According to BPM Counter, this causes your heart rate to go from Largo to Andante in only a few minutes. no exertion or suit-up required.
Some may say this is only a poor description of a single Yoga technique — see Q2
In any case, this technique might be considered as the first stage of a multi-stage wakeup scenario. It might only help get you to the shower and then to your first “cup of joe”.