I’ve coached hundreds of leaders across the globe — and the same practice makes a huge difference.

I’ve coached hundreds of leaders across the globe — and there’s one practice that makes a huge difference in almost everyone’s performance.

When we think of productivity in business, we often think of people pushing themselves to past their limits — pulling all-nighters at work, eating lunch while responding to emails, zooming from one project or appointment to the next. But in my experience, this myth of productivity serves neither the employee nor the organization in the long term.

As CEO of TLEX Institute which teaches leaders tools for greater self mastery, social connection, and purpose, I’ve coached hundreds of leaders across the globe across a variety of sectors. I have found that leaders who create gaps in their busy schedules to restore and replenish are ultimately more effective and successful in the long run.

There’s one restorative practice in particular that makes a meaningful difference in leaders’ performance: conscious breathing.

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Conscious breathing is a powerful mechanism to stay calm and focused throughout the day, while anchoring our mind in the present moment. Our breath is the only part of the autonomic nervous system that we can control. It’s one of the few things we can easily access to shift the way that we’re thinking or feeling and calm and restore ourselves. In fact, research shows conscious breathing has a deep restorative impact on our physiology, and it is one of the simplest ways to reset and can have many other benefits. Even one deep, conscious breath can serve as the mini-meditation that we need to slow down and reduce tension. Pausing to take a few deep breaths can allow us to let go and restore, and enter the next activity or interaction with fresh eyes, energy, and enthusiasm.

Beyond using breath in moments throughout the day, the daily practice of formal breathing and meditation techniques allows us to reset and restore so that tension and stress doesn’t accumulate. Research suggests that the rhythmic breathing practice Sudharshan Kriya, for example, reduces anxiety, depression, and increases optimism on a physiological level. By practicing letting go every day, and using the rhythms of our breath, we can learn to observe and manage our thoughts and emotions. These skills translate when our eyes are open, allowing us to engage with the world and other people with clarity, centeredness and intentionality.

While Sudharshan Kriya is an advanced technique, there many effective beginner breaths like alternate nostril breathing. Explained below, alternate nostril breathing is a simple, effective technique for both calming and focusing your mind, and regulating your emotions.

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