In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I look at how your internal chemistry affects your consciousness and how you can use breathing to affect both. You‌ ‌can‌ ‌stream‌ ‌or‌ ‌download‌ this episode ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌link‌ ‌below‌ ‌or‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌on‌ ‌‌Itunes‌,‌‌ ‌Podbean‌,‌‌ ‌‌Spotify‌‌ ‌‌and‌ ‌all‌ ‌other‌ ‌major‌ ‌podcasting‌ ‌platforms.‌ ‌

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As much as we hate to admit it, our internal chemistry will affect your consciousness – which affects your performance on the bike and in life – and without having an understanding of this and a plan for how to control it then you are leaving it to chance.

Getting a better understanding of this and the tools to do something had made a big impact on my performance and mindset and while I know that it isn’t something that everyone will connect with, I know that some of you need this type of info more than you need another core training exercise or workout routine.

I hope this podcast is the spark that you need to start paying more attention to this forgotten aspect of living a healthy and happy life. You can find more info at my website or let me know if you have any questions or comments, I’m always happy to help.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

p.s. I feel that this is such an important part of a holistic approach to your performance that I’m including breathwork in the new 40+ MTB Rider Training Program that I’ll be releasing in a few weeks. Breathing is a foundation for your performance and mindset and something the older rider really needs to focus on to get the most out of what they have. I’ll also be doing some remote classes and workshops in the coming year to share more about this with my fellow MTB riders.

PODCAST NOTES

Controlling your consciousness is one of the biggest questions faced by mankind. Your consciousness is how you are experiencing the world and it plays a direct role in your performance and happiness.

While most people would recognize how changing your blood chemistry through a strong drug like LSD or mushrooms will affect your consciousness, most people fail to realize how small things on a daily basis do the same thing.

Another example is treatments for depression – the whole point of antidepressants is to change your internal chemistry into one that helps change your consciousness and perception of the world.

Looking at natural chemistry, a good example would be a spike of adrenaline from getting startled or scared. Your consciousness and perception of the world changed as a result and no matter how much you didn’t want it to happen, it will have an effect.

On a performance level, rising levels of CO2 are what trigger that panicky “I Can’t breathe” feeling – no matter how fit you are this change in blood chemistry will impact your consciousness and force you to slow down.

As much as we hate to admit it, our internal chemistry will affect your consciousness – which affects your performance on the bike and in life – and without having an understanding of this and a plan for how to control it then you are leaving it to chance.

So if your internal chemistry is so important then how can we influence it without drugs?

The answer is through breathing.

How you breath and the rate you breath at will directly influence your chemistry in some pretty profound ways.

First, the muscles you use to breath will have an effect.

Your body is designed to use the diaphragm to drive your breathing but, since breathing is so important, it will develop dysfunctional breathing patterns if this is not reinforced.

The most common and problematic breathing dysfunction is the use of the chest to drive your breathing. 

When you do this it is not only less efficient from a performance standpoint but it also creates a stress response in the body. 

Since chest breathing is only supposed to be used during periods of high exertion – like running for your life – it signals to your body that you are under stress. 

This increases the amount of stress hormones you have in your bloodstream. This less efficient breathing pattern also results in less efficient gas exchange in the lungs, which leads to higher CO2 levels.

All of this affects your chemistry, which also affects your consciousness. You’ll have a tendency to feel more stressed and have less control of your emotions under these conditions.

Second, what hole you use to breathe has an effect.

Breathing through the nose makes it easier to engage the diaphragm, which helps with the first problem. 

Breathing through your nose also mixes Nitrous Oxide (NO2) into the air. NO2 is a vasodilator which opens up the blood vessels and makes it easier for blood to flow.

The improved blood flow makes it easier to get oxygen to working muscles and to take up waste products like CO2. 

And since rising levels of CO2 are what trigger the panicky “I can’t breathe” feeling it is important to control this for performance and anxiety.

Which leads us to the third point, which is how much you breathe has an effect.

Most people tend to over breathe, which means they are breathing more than is needed for what they are doing.

One of the problems with this is that it leads to chronically lowered levels of CO2 since you are not only taking in more oxygen than you need but you are also breathing out more CO2 as well.

Chronically lowered levels of CO2 create a new baseline for the body, which means that it takes less of a rise in CO2 in your blood to trigger the “I can’t breathe” feeling we have all experienced at some point.

This has a direct effect on your consciousness while performing – if you are riding your bike and every hard effort triggers that feeling then you are not going to have a fun ride and you will not be able to push as hard and ride as fast.

This is also a contributing factor to anxiety and panic attacks – since you need CO2 to release oxygen from red blood cells (known as the Bohr Effect) then blowing off too much CO2 will make it harder for your body to actually use the oxygen it has in it.

So when something triggers a stress response that includes accelerated breathing with someone who is already over-breathing you can blow off so much CO2 that your brain starts to panic from not getting enough oxygen released into the bloodstream.

This is why breathing into a paper bag can help someone who is having a panic attack and feels like they can’t breathe – they intake some of the exhaled CO2, which raises the CO2 levels high enough to get the oxygen to release into the bloodstream.

If you want to be able to control your consciousness you have to control your breathing.

Breathing with the diaphragm, using the nose as much as possible and being aware of overbreathing are all ways that you can have a big impact on your chemistry and consciousness.

 

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