The main reason I think breathing often gets overlooked (even though we’re doing it 20,000 times a day) is that we don’t give credence or respect to our autonomic nervous system or limbic system.
The limbic system is always working for us whether we are working, sleeping, playing, or eating. We have failed to realize and understand the value and the power available to us through our limbic system.
We want the quick fix – the new parasite cleanse, the SIBO treatment, the hormone therapy for acne, the anti-anxiety medication, heartburn medication or blood pressure medication to just stop the symptoms so we can continue on with life.
Beyond Acute Breathing
People often only think of breathing when they want to achieve something. They may practice a certain breathing technique to help them relax, such as box breathing when they feel anxious or stressed. This is acute, short-term reactionary thinking.
Yes, breathing will help in acute situations, but what if you trained yourself to breathe in such a way that you no longer were using breathing as a band-aid for when life really turns up the heat?
What if you instead trained yourself to breathe in such a way that your body could live in a parasympathetic dominant state with ease, in fact, what if your breathing was so efficient and effortless that your body couldn’t help but enjoy parasympathetic dominance?
Anxiety and depression are the #1 disability in the industrial world. Isn’t that wild? Go, go, go has put us into a place of complete autonomic nervous system disarray. We’ve trained ourselves to react, react, react.
How about investing a small amount of time, so you can truly enjoy your day-to-day life – get better sleep, perform better at the gym, focus better in the office. It’s possible, it just requires consistency.
Benefits of Nasal Breathing
Alright, so how can you train yourself to breathe better?
For starters, let’s begin by doing everything we can to breathe through our nose instead of through our mouth. (If you literally cannot breathe through your nose, send us a message and I will send you a program on how to make this happen.)
If you can breathe through your nose make a point of keeping your mouth closed. Slowing down your breathing will help usher you into a parasympathetic response.
One of the many benefits of nasal breathing is that the increased natural resistance of the nasal airway slows down our breathing which invokes this parasympathetic response.
The parasympathetic response is the rest relaxation response of the body.
Not only that, but nasal breathing has been shown to improve gas exchange because of the forced utilization of the diaphragm and increased parasympathetic tone.
Now when it comes to sleep, it is imperative that you are nasal breathing. Mouth breathing dries out your airways and causes constriction of the blood vessels in your lungs. This turns on the sympathetic (fight or flight response) nervous system.
Sleep time is meant to be a time of rest, recovery and refurbishing the body, not a stressful state for our body.
If you have not already tried it, give mouth taping a go. 3M Micropore tape is a good affordable option or if you want something specifically made for mouth taping, try Somnifix.
Breathing Technique for Parasympathetic Dominance
Okay, so do you have 3-5 minutes in your day that you can dedicate to increasing your breathing performance? I hope so because breathing performance is directly correlated to the ease at which you can accumulate health.
- Lay down on your back or sit up tall or stand up straight with your head over your hips.
- For five minutes, focus all the sensory fibers of your being on your inhalation through your nose pulled in through nasal passage from your stomach.
- Once your inhale reaches its natural end, take 1-3 seconds to pause and then allow the air to exhale back out through your nasal passage.
- Once you have reached an unforced level of exhaling, repeat the process once again.
- Continue this for 3-5 minutes. Pick a time and do it daily.
This is a great place to start for anyone who wants to promote parasympathetic dominance with their breathing.
While doing the breathing try to trace the air with each inhale and exhale.
As you grow in your breathing, you’ll start to feel better which will make it all the easier to continue on with your newfound breathing habits.
Two great books I recommend on the subject of breathing are Breath by James Nestor and The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown. A word of caution: only read these books if you want to fully convince yourself that breathing and health abundance are directly connected.