Episode 180: Breathing Power

Today we’re going to talk about breathing, stress relief, and inflammation.

Breathing is an incredibly complex topic, although, most of us seem to manage okay as we get through our days. Science is starting to point more and more to the power of using breath to fix a lot of different issues in the body.

Couple studies I was looking at recently.

One I found really interesting going into the holiday season, is they compared 20 minutes of breathing practices compared to 20 minutes of reading. What they were looking for is they were testing inflammatory markers in the saliva. What they found was that 20 minutes of breathing versus 20 minutes of relaxed reading actually decreased the level of inflammatory markers in the breathing group compared to the reading group.

That was fairly powerful for me.

One of the things we’ve talked a lot about in Z-Health for a long, long time, and obviously breathing has been a practice used around the world for thousands upon thousands of years, is how powerful breathing is in regulating the tone between sympathetic, which is your fight or flight nervous system, and your parasympathetic, which is your rest and digest nervous system.

One of the things we know is that exhalation based breathing tends to increase parasympathetic activity in the body which means it calms us down and helps us deal with stress.

We’re coming up on the holiday season and I don’t know about you guys but sometimes there is some stress around the holidays. I’m going to cover with you literally the most basic idea around breathing. What I want you to recognize is that when you do breathing, good, basic breathing exercises, it can have a powerful impact on you in many, many ways. It can lower you stress. Apparently decrease inflammatory markers in you body.

Another thing that I was looking at recently which was quite cool was that they tested a big group of people looking at their basic movement competency and what they found was that … They were also looking at breathing issues.

What they found was the people with breathing issues moved worse than those that didn’t. The whole point was that people that struggle with breathing tend to struggle with movement as well. It is the baseline for everything that we do.

In Z-Health we focus a lot on breathing. We have a ton of different exercises, but lets start off with just the most basic one. You go in the Holiday season of knowing what you have to think about a lot. What we’re going to do is we’re going to go to the floor and we’re going to focus on just basic abdominal breathing.

What we’re going to focus on is breathing in for 2 to 3 seconds, holding for 2 to 3 seconds, and then breathing out for 6 seconds. Nothing super complicated. What we want to focus on here is the action of the body. We’re going to go to the floor.

What I’m going to ask you to do is lay on your back and place one hand on your abdomen, one hand on your chest. Now you want your head to be relaxed, the rest of your body as loose as it can be. I would be here. Now, my primary focus is going to be breathing in and preferably out through my nose.

If you don’t feel comfortable breathing in through your nose, you can also focus on breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth if that’s more comfortable. Second thing is if you’re like this because you have some tension in your back go ahead and use a pillow or something so that you can be comfortably on the floor. We’re going to be here. I’ll focus on that 2 second in. Hold. 6 seconds out.

Breathe pause. Repeat.

Now, the idea here is as I am doing that cycle my primary focus needs to be on the hand that’s on my abdomen. As I inhale my abdominal hand should elevate toward the ceiling. As I exhale it should relax and move toward the floor.

That’s the basics. This is just called coherent breathing in some circles. It’s super simple. Deep diaphragmatic breathing. The goal here would be to set a timer for somewhere around 8 to 10 minutes and just work on that cycle.

If you’re one of those people that you can make it look like you’re breathing correctly, but you know that you’re using a lot of muscle tension, another option is to add some weight to your abdomen. For instance, I got a little 25 pound plate here. I’m going to lay down and I’ll just place this on my abdomen. It should be comfortable.

If you don’t have a weight plate you can put a heavy bag of rice or a cat or something else on your stomach. Again, I’m just going to lay here, relax, get comfortable and I’ll start my same processes. What we should be able to feel is that we’re pushing the weight away and letting the weight sink back in between the inhale and the exhale.

The timing really isn’t that important. I just like for people to exhale longer than they inhale. If you need to breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 1 second, out for 3. It doesn’t matter. The whole point, like I said, is to calm down, work on that deep diaphragmatic breathing, which is going to be exemplified by the movement of the abdomen.

Do that for about 10 minutes. If you can do that once or twice a day it can have a really profound impact on you. If 10 minutes sounds too long, this is something else in research, don’t stress out about it. Try 1 minutes. Try a minute and a half. Make it fit because if you lay down and you’re tense about getting your breathing practice in it will probably interfere with the good effects.

That’s it for now. Give this is a shot. If you have any questions about it please let us know. There’s tons of information out there about breathing. I wanted you going into the holidays to have one simple thing to focus on.

Let us know how this helps. Thanks.

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