Breathing – Yep, got it sussed; do it every day, even in my sleep; in-out, in-out; it’s a doddle.
You may be surprised to know, though, that you might not be doing it right. Yes, all these years you just might have got it totally wrong.
I’m only kidding, of course, but how cool would it be to know that you can dramatically improve your health just by regularly doing specific breathing exercises to improve lung function, change your physiology, your body chemistry and lots, lots more.
Your lungs’ lifeblood
The amount of oxygen we inhale directly affects the amount of energy released into our cells, controlling chemical and physiological body systems.
The possible benefits of improved breathing techniques are as follows:-
- More energy
- Immune system boosting
- Stress relief
- Clarity of mind
- Blood pressure control
- Cell detoxification
- Relief from emotional problems such as panic attacks and anxiety
- Pain relief
- Mood elevation
- Sleep improvement
- Concentration improvement
- Relief from headaches
- Chronic fatigue
- Improves function of the glands, giving your body the necessary chemicals for good health
- Reduces heart load and helps the heart to function longer
- Controls weight
- Regulates body temperature
- Massages internal organs
- Beats common respiratory illnesses such as Asthma and COPD
Here are a few breathing exercises to get you going.
Wim Hoff – The Ice Man
Wim Hoff is a crazy Dutchman (his words) who has devised a regime of breathing exercises, exposure to cold and commitment to certain ideas.
Using his techniques, he has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, ran a half-marathon above the arctic circle barefoot and stood in a container covered in ice cubes for 112 minutes. He can control his breathing, heart rate and blood circulation, and he rarely gets ill, even though he is in his 60’s.
Now, although all the above are to do with his relationship with cold temperatures and their beneficial effect on the body’s systems, he also has a specific regime of breathing exercises.
I describe them below, but if you would like to be taken through this by Wim himself, he has a lovely free guided breathing session on the landing page of his website www.wimhoffmethod.com/breathingexercises. His voice is hypnotic, so I do recommend you do this.
Here is what you will hear.
- 30 deep, rhythmic deep breaths in and out, quickly taken, without pause between inhalation and exhalation, into the belly and chest. On the last one, breathe out and hold.
- Hold the empty lung for one minute, whilst Wim gives you instructions of how to let go of your stress.
- Deep breath in and hold for 15 seconds.
- 30 more deep, rhythmic breaths, without pause between inhalation and exhalation – then, as before hold your last breath on an empty lung
- One and a half minutes breath hold with empty lung (OK to breathe in if you can’t manage this)
- Fully breathe in and hold for 15 seconds
- 30 more deep breaths as before
- One and a half minutes breath hold with empty lung
- Become aware of the way your body feels
- Breathe in and hold for 15 seconds
- Let your breath return to normal
On the website, you will find a free app, free mini classes, video courses, activities, products and an academy.
If you want to know even more about this amazing man, he is featured on The Gloop Lab, which you can find on Netflix, where he takes a group of people and puts them through all the features of his breathing methods in the comfort of the indoors and then takes them outdoors in winter in their bathing costumes. They do exercises in the snow and finish off by diving into an ice-cold lake.
Now you might say “No way Jose”, but maybe stop to think for a minute. Wim’s methods are extreme in the least, but every single person on that day said their bodies were tingling and they felt incredible.
Not only that, but one lady, who suffered from panic attacks and general anxiety, was able to control those feelings. Jumping into the lake triggered the feelings she normally had when an attack was coming on, but she was able to use the breathing techniques to stave off a full-blown attack. Once back home in USA, she was interviewed and confirmed that she had not had a panic attack since she returned.
The Renegade Pharmacist
This site is run by Niraj Naik, a Pharmacist with a Master’s Degree. He advocates many natural therapies, so hence his title as the Renegade Pharmacist. His website, should you be curious is www.renegadepharmacist.com/breathhold.
One of the things on his website is something called Rechaka Pranayama, which is the yogic practice of holding the breath on an empty lung, which is said to have an effect on the sympathetic nervous system and immune system.
Another name for this practice is Hypoxia, which Niraj explores, and the claimed benefits are as follows:-
- Increased number of red blood cells through the production of EPO.
- Development of new blood vessels
- Induces Nitric Oxide Synthase, which has a positive effect on cells
- Induces tumor Protein P53, known as the Guardian of the Genome, to protect cells and prevent them from turning cancerous.
- The stem cells in our bone marrow may be stimulated to migrate to other cells during Hypoxia and stimulate repair and growth.
- Stimulates neurogenesis in rats which helps memory, cognitive function and even depression. Who knows, maybe it could do the same for us humans.
One commenter on the site said that using this method helped with their Ulcerative Colitis.
The practice is very simple, and it does help if you do a few deep breaths first before you try it.
After your round of deep breathing, on an empty lung, hold for one minute at first and then gradually build up to one and a half minutes.
Sit in a safe place and, if you feel dizzy or unwell at all during this practice, stop, take a rest with normal breathing and then try again later.
There has also been a massive study of this on the following site www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034215.
A wealth of resources
If you look on any of my other articles on this site, you will see that I am a massive fan of YouTube and this is no exception. I didn’t want to make this post too long, just in case your attention wandered, but I really would encourage you to go onto YouTube and explore this Aladdin’s cave of jewels for your health and wellbeing.
There are lots and lots of fabulous videos which will guide you gently through the many different kinds of yogic breathing.
They will introduce you to another world where you will discover the natural health benefits of controlled breathing exercises; they are enjoyable, calming and will leave you with the best feeling ever; that of fabulous good health and vitality.
Your guide to health and happiness.