Respiration for Restoration
Updated: Mar 10
Breathing allows us to hack into our nervous system, control our immune reaction and restores health. Ever heard of the breathing practices in Yoga, which are cleansing and strengthening? Or about Wim Hof, the Iceman and his Wim Hof Method?
Breathing alone has the ability to improve our energy levels, detox our bodies, reduce stress levels, rebalance the nervous system and strengthen our immune system.
A typical adult engages as little as 10 percent of the range of the diaphragm when breathing, which overburdens the heart, elevates blood pressure and causes a rash of circulatory problems. Extending those breaths to 50+ percent of the diaphragm's capacity will ease cardiovascular stress and allow the body to work more efficiently. For this reason, the diaphragm is sometimes referred to as "the second heart".
Science has begun exploring this field and started measuring on two decades of data from 5.200 individuals, and discovered that the most significant indicator of life span is the lung capacity.
The respiratory system, and therefore every single breath we take impacts hormones and chemicals that lower blood pressure and ease digestion, it also regulates our heart rate and influences our muscle health and growth. Intentional breathing can prevent and loosen muscle tightness. To sum this up, all our physical structures need oxygen. Once absorbed by the lungs, the oxygen is sent via blood circulation to the bodies tissues.
Breathing, and that probably doesn't come as a surprise, keeps us alive.
The right way is through the nose The nose is the silent warrior; gatekeeper of our bodies, pharmacist to our minds, and weather vane to our emotions. It is a genius structure and defence mechanism. The mucosa (skin inside the nose) moistures the air drawn into the throat and regulates the air's temperature, and the tiny little hair catch particles, and prevents inhaling polluted air. Through nasal breathing, we can absorb about 18 percent more oxygen than by breathing through the mouth. This is down to a molecule called nitric oxide, which is released by the sinuses, and that plays an essential role in increasing circulation and delivering oxygen into cells. For runners, this will be a piece of exciting information; By merely breathing through the nose, you could cut total exertion in half and offer considerable gains in endurance, John Douillard said.
Chest breathing is just half a breath you could say. When the belly isn't lifting during the inhalation, only a part of the lungs is being used, and the other one is doomed to stunt. On top of that, the carbon-dioxide-rich air builds up and sits stagnant. The diaphragm, the muscle drawing air in and out the lungs, doesn't find itself in a much better position. If wrong conditioned over time the diaphragm will keep working on every cost because if it doesn't, we'll run out of air. This chest breathing becomes a dangerous habit, as prolonged shallow breathing will limit the range of our diaphragm and lung capacity.
Why is that? Why don't we breathe naturally, just fine? Isn't evolution smarter? Well, this has to be pointed out; evolution indeed is very clever and would not have had created obstacles on the way to the next stage of development. Would be pretty unconducive, isn't it? We human beings and our history is not a great example of the evolutionary process, as we took things into our own hands, and developed into a new direction. When it comes to breathing, the significant change had brought the ability to process food. With the ability to make tools and light a fire, we were able to eat foods, that haven't been meant for us to be eaten. The more we processed food and made broad nutrition easier available, the more our brains grew and the tighter our mouth and nose became, inclusive all airways. This physical change brought some trouble for our natural ability to breathe correctly as the brain inhabited the areas once used for enlarged airways. Our nose adapted along with the changing conditions inside and outside the body. The nose defence mechanism is more important than ever since the air pollution is worse, then it's ever been before. Looking into the past, this is the explanation why in colder climates, our noses would grow narrower and longer to more efficiently heat the air before it entered into the lungs. Originally it was meant to look like this, breathing through the nose, eating through the mouth.
Breathing techniques Breathing techniques are a powerful tool, and science is exploring more and more details. However, at this point it would be reckless to offer a general solution. Like everything else concerning our body and mind, and how to influence them, is highly individual and should be treated like that. It can be said that intentional breathing is great for everyone, and this is why breathing techniques are a fantastic tool to make use of. The unique technique and timing that works for you, has to be figured out by yourself. It really isn't much more than 5 minutes a day deep breathing and undivided attention. I would recommend preparing yourself and making time in advance for your breathing time. Preparation is key to pick up a new habit. Directly schedule your 5 minutes breathing a day into your calendar. Whatever you decide to try, please be committed and give it a real chance. It is a process and not a quick solution. It will always be a process, even though you decide for quick solutions, and this is the reason why it will not/did not work out on the long-term. The focus of the process is the attention towards yourself. You want to observe and gain understanding to be able to implement practices into your life sustainably.
There are a variety of breathing techniques out there. They all have in common the inhale through the nose, the exhalation either through the nose or mouth.
This works well for me; Morning breathing practice 5 mins: deep belly breathing, really inhale into your belly and feel how it expands. Hold on here and keep your breath inside for a moment. Extend the inhale, breath-holding and exhale times as you go on. Holding the inhale will send oxygen through all of your physical structures and energize your body and mind and. Evening breathing practice 5 mins: deep belly breathing, really inhale into your belly and feel how it expands and exhale, hold on here on the exhalation. Let the moment be and become quiet. Holding the exhalation will relax your mind and calm down your body.
The knowledge shared in my articles is a mix of content from educational courses, scientific researches and a ton of books. My greatest inspiration for this article was the book Breath - The science of a lost art, by James Nestor, 2020.
This article is also available on; wellbeingmagazine.com/health/respiration-for-restoration