From the moment I wake up, my to-do list is already running through my mind in neon lights. It’s a lot for only having been conscious for five seconds, which is why finding out crafty ways to re-center myself before jumping out of bed can be a pretty invaluable tool. Enter the 5-3-3 breathing technique, an invention of basketball coach Dominique Williams that’s designed to focus your energy before your day truly begins.
“5-3-3 is a meditation designed in the spirit of Buddhist meditation and martial arts training,” says Coach D. “The method uses breath work as the concentration for mindfulness and insight, along with martial arts breathing techniques for rhythm and increased endurance.” Williams designed the 5-3-3 to motivate athletes, but it works for anyone whose mind feels unfocused and frenzied.
Quick, clipped inhales and long, drawn out exhales are both part of the practice. Meaning, on a physical level, the diaphragm (which Coach D calls the body’s “space maker”) is expanding, the brain is receiving in influx of oxygen, and the lungs are expanding while the core is contracting. Studies have shown that deep breathing techniques can calm the respiratory and cardiovascular system, while faster breathing (known as Kapalabhati in yoga), is said to create energy.
“Much like a team huddle and chant that keeps the motivation, focus, and morale up throughout the course, 5-3-3 relieves discomfort, anxiety, and creates a collective focus,” says Coach D.
Complete a a minimum of two rounds. Meditators are encouraged to stand, or if seated, place feet flat on the floor. Back is erect straight. Eyes can be open or closed. If open, focus and stare directly out in front of you at one focal point at eye level.
Take five “DEEP” breaths, inhaling through the nose out the mouth with an intention to completely fill and release the body of air.
Take three “FAST” breaths, inhaling through the nose and pushing the breath out on the exhale through the mouth.
Take three “LOUD” breaths, inhaling through the nose and releasing loudly with sound out the mouth. Repeat as many times as desired.