Breathing. There’s a good and better way to to it.
I’m not talking about the breathing you do for exercise, training, yoga, whatever. I’m talking about everyday, normal, unconscious breathing.
The “good” way to do is just to do it. And that’s just because you get your Oxygen-Carbon Dioxide exchange that you need. If you hold your breath a lot, you become hypoxic, meaning “not enough oxygen,” and that can cause all sorts of problems like chronic diseases (some research even says it can be a big contributing factor to developing cancer), aches and pains, and feed into anxiety issues. So please, by all means, breathing however you want to is better than not breathing.
But if you want better than just “good” breathing, you nose breathe. What do I mean by nose breathe? Breathe in and out through your nose. Close your mouth. That simple.
When you breathe through your mouth, your body sends your brain a signal that it’s in danger. Think about the most primal people….cavemen, aborigines, tribal members, jungle folk…people who don’t live in a modern-day tech society. They breathe through their noses most of the time. The only time they breathe through their mouths is when they have to catch their breath. The only time they have to catch their breath is if they’ve been exerting a lot of energy, more than they can handle (meaning, they have to recover from that exertion). This typically means running really fast. If they’re running really fast, it’s usually for 2 reasons:
- They’re chasing something so they can kill it and eat it.
- They’re BEING chased by something that wants to kill them and eat them.
So basically, mouth breathing signals a sympathetic response (fight or flight). You’re in danger. You’re not safe. This triggers the other sympathetic responses to happen as well: tightening of muscles, hyperawareness, worry/obsession, poor digestion, inability to recover and build muscle, inability to intentionally change body composition, stress.
Yep, just by breathing through your mouth, all that (and more!) happens.
On the other hand, when you breathe through your nose, your body sends your brain a signal that things are safe. Nothing to run away from. You can chill. Your body is in a parasympathetic mode. Digestion is better, fewer worries, able to handle life situations better, lessening of stress, able to intentionally change body composition, better sleep and recovery…
Have I sold you on it yet?
Nose-breathing is a free, simple, and readily available way to improve your overall health. It comes highly recommended, along with 360 degree breathing. For simple, quick, no-frustration ways to access ALL of your breathing muscles so you can accomplish 360 degree breathing almost effortlessly, check out my Breathing Optimization Program. If you do nose breathing with that Breathing Program, you’ll be feeling like you’re on Cloud 9!
Once you start nose breathing, there are some extra things you can do to gain more benefits from the breathing itself.
360 Degree Breathing. It allows you to get the maximum oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange capacity you can, and it loosens up a lot of your muscles (including your diaphragm) so you can feel physically more relaxed, and also relieve stress internally and externally. It also allows you to get your internal pressure system working, meaning your core will work super well as holding stable when you need it to be stable (if you’ve ever tweaked your back picking keys up, you know how important it is for your back to be stable when it should be!). When your core can be stable, your pelvic floor can start working better, and your other joints may also feel better at the same time. I mentioned my Breathing Optimization Program before. Get it. It’s so worth it. Have a goal to do this with EVERY breath you take (make it natural)
Box Breathing. Commonly known for it being taught in the Navy Seals for helping Seal recruits learn how to calm themselves during high crisis times so they can make better decisions. You can do the same (hopefully your crises are less “serious” than the ones Seals have to face!). 4-4-4-4. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds. This is a good beginner way to learn how to be in control of your breath. It’s a great way to start basic meditations, calm from anxiety, and end a training session with. Even better if you’re laying down and your knees are bent or calves are elevated (like, rest your calves on a couch or box). I like this one to get me in a calm, focused state if I’m a bit too ramped up for my own good. And instead of seconds, I like to count heartbeats. This helps me physiologically calm myself down with a brain-body connection, and also doesn’t stress me out as much if I’m trying to catch my breath from a workout. Try 5 minutes of this.
“Better than Sheep” Breathing. Just remember 7-8-9. This one’s nice to help you fall asleep. Start with a 7 second inhale, hold it at the top for 8 seconds, and exhale slowly for 9 seconds. If you can’t get to those numbers, try any other variation of 3 consecutive numbers, like 3-4-5 or 5-6-7. If 7-8-9 is too easy for you, go for higher consecutive numbers, you rockstar. Do this until you fall asleep.
The Control-Pause. This is where you inhale normally, then exhale normally, and then hold your breath (best if you pinch your nose during this part) for as long as you can. Inhale again upon the first inclination of wanting air. Don’t let your ego get in the way. A healthy system can hold for 22 seconds before wanting air. You can read more about this in the book Shut Your Mouth. Buteyko breathing introduces this Control-Pause technique with many benefits, including increasing your efficiency of utilizing oxygen in your body. Personally, I like it to help with anxiety and decision-making. Doing it first thing in the morning as soon as you’re awake (maybe even before your eyes open!) allows me to realize that I have a choice in my behavior (so I don’t just react), be egoless, and that I don’t have to be in a rush to do everything. Personally, I don’t keep track of the seconds most time, because I like to focus more on the meditative aspect than the physiological, as I know the physiological improvements will come if I focus on the meditation anyway. Plus, if you’ve ever trained with me, you know I don’t count. Do this until the snooze goes off (3-5 min), and then get out of bed and start your glorious day.
These are just some of the great things you can do with nasal breathing. If you want to feel the effects of these, make sure you can comfortably breathe through your nose on a normal basis first. Then after that, practice at least daily for a few weeks and you should be able to notice changes.
When you’re practicing these, please recognize that they are techniques to PRACTICE, not how you should breathe normally. And one thing to realize with breath practice, is that there’s the chance you might get dizzy. This is because your body is not yet efficient enough to know what to do with the oxygen load and timing you’re giving it. This needs to be learned and trained. So please be laying on the floor when you begin these practices, for safety, and make sure you take some normal breaths between your practiced breaths so you can safely regulate your oxygen intake. If you start to get a little light-headed, that’s when you take normal breaths until you feel, well, normal again.
Try these and comment below on your experience!
Best in Health and Happiness,
PS, If you’re having trouble accessing all your breathing muscles, or if you’d like to have an easier time taking nice, deep, full breaths, check out my Breathing Optimization Program for some simple, quick ways to easily access all of your breathing muscles, effortlessly!