“Breathing in… breathing out…”
We, humans, breathe over 20,000 times during the day. We do not pay this mostly automatic process much attention unless our air supply is cut off.
But, we should.
Every breath that we take supplies every one of our trillions of cells in our body with life. Breathing removes toxic carbon dioxide (CO2) so that it keeps us alive.
Controlled breathing is regarded as a fundamental element in a lot of ancient traditions, including meditation and yoga.
Ancient yogis, for instance, believed in the healing power of the breath. Both Buddhists and Yogis taught their students the precise methodology with which they were to inhale, as well as exhale – along with the rationale behind international breathing.
The Yogis and Buddhists in the history were way beyond their time. As it turns out, proper breathing counteracts the adverse clinical effects of stress in disorders which also include hypertension, as well as anxiety, sleeplessness, and aging.
Fast-forward thousands of years, and some scientists are just now proving a lot of the benefits espoused by Buddha and the Yogis. It is pretty fascinating stuff, right?
In today’s article, we will talk about controlled breathing, what science has uncovered, as well as how to perform three different methods of controlled breathing. All three methods are easy, as well as quick and life-changing.
Let’s get to it.
What happens when you practice deep breathing?
Dr. Joseph Mercola explains:
“Controlled breathing is one of the ways of triggering your relaxation response because it activates your parasympathetic nervous system that in turn may slow down your heart rate and digestion that helps you to feel calm. Breathe, Exhale and Repeat: What are the benefits of controlled breathing?”
As you probably already know, breathing is both, a voluntary, as well as involuntary response. Provided that the heart is pumping blood and the brain is functions, we are going to breathe automatically.
However, a lot of us do not breathe ‘correctly.’ Most of the people have the innate tendency to chest breathe or breathe shallowly.
Instead, we have to breathe with the belly – something which is called “diaphragmic breathing.” When we consciously engage in a diaphragmic breathing practice, this is called controlled breathing.
What is controlled breathing?
Controlled breathing is to be consciously aware, as well as control one’s breathing patterns. Controlled breathing is also a practice with some extraordinary potential health benefits which include healthier organs, as well as a better brain, increased energy, cellular health and much more.
Most of the health gains from controlled breathing are direct results of curbing the fight-or-flight response of the body.
As you already know, your body has a “fight-or-flight” (FoF) mechanism which activates when it is under stress. Our distant forefathers had to contend with many-a-threat: wild animals, starvation, disease and so on.
Naturally, as the human kind evolved, we became more of a “thinking” creature. This fact is also evident in the development of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of the brain, which has the responsibility for decision-making, as well as attention, and resource management.
Of course, we still have the FoF response as well. But, we can overrule many of the FoF annoyances by using our PFC.
This, of course, includes controlled breathing.
Controlled breathing and the ‘Relaxation Response.’
The Relaxation Response is a term which is coined by Harvard professor, as well as a pioneer in Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School, named Dr. Herbert Benson.
In simple terms, the Relaxation Response is the opposite of FoF. The fact that such a response exists should get us super excited. There is no need that we are being controlled by stress, as well as by fear and anxiety. The Relaxation Response, accomplished through controlled breathing, can help mitigate FoF.
In science terms, the Relaxation Response also activates the parasympathetic nervous system or PNS.
The PNS is the opposite of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The PNS is the thing that enables the Relaxation Response. While the ANS is referred to as the FoF system, the PNS is sometimes referred to as the “rest-and-digest” system.
Controlled breathing = PNS activation = Relaxation Response (= Bliss!)
Here, we are going to present you the three ways in which you can activate the PNS of the body through controlled breathing.
1. The first one is called COHERENT BREATHING, and here is how to do it:
- Sitting upright or lying down, you should place your hands on your belly;
- Slowly breathe in, expanding your belly, to the count of five;
- Pause briefly;
- Then, slowly breathe out until the count of six;
- Try and work your way up to 10 to 20 minutes every day.
2. The second is called CORE BREATHING, and here is how to do it:
- You should sit straight on at the edge of your chair or on the floor;
- Then, place your hands on your belly;
- As you inhale, lean forward and expand your belly;
- As you exhale, squeeze the breath out, curling forward. Exhale until you are out of breath;
- You should repeat this for about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. The third and last method is called THE ‘HA!’ TECHNIQUE, and here is how to do it:
- First of all, stand up straight, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, and palms up;
- While you inhale fully, draw your elbows back behind you, keeping your palms still up;
- Then, exhale quickly, thrusting your palms forward, as well as turning them downward; say or mouth the word ‘HA!’;
- You should quickly repeat this for about 15 to 20 times.
After all, enjoy your inner peace!