“Most people breathe enough to not die.” – Esther Gokhale
Here are Dr. T’s Top 10 things you may have never known about your breath:
- You can touch your diaphragm– the most important breathing muscle there is!
By there, I mean your diaphragm…yes you can touch it. Why is your diaphragm so important?“The diaphragm is the “heart” of your respiratory system- It is the non-sexy abdominal muscle, but the most essential of them. It is probably one of the most important muscles in your body other than the smooth muscle that comprises your heart. If it ceases to function you are done. It is a voluntary muscle and an involuntary type muscle. The autonomic and somatic nerves regulate it. Many Yoga and many Eastern arts, like Qigong and other martial forms have developed strategies to play around with breath techniques in order to access the nervous system and control states of mind. These special breath exercises deeply condition the diaphragm, along with all associated respiratory muscles. The persistent controlled activity will undoubtedly alter your consciousness and affect your alertness or sedation. Deep breathing also improves your lung capacity and blood chemistry (Jill Miller, author of Roll Model).”
- Your breath is the central pump in the body.It is the distribution vessel for oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of your body. “Fun fact, breathe has very little to with oxygen. The air makes up 21% oxygen and your body only needs 5% of that oxygen to live.”-Dave Asprey
- Your breath controls your ability to smell. When you hold your breath it is very difficult, if not impossible, to smell. Sniffing allows you to experience smell. I highly recommend holding your breath when heading into a stinky bathroom or honey bucket.
- Your breath helps to mobilize the spinal column as well as your guts (or abdominal cavity). YOU WILL EXPERIENCE THIS WITH ME THURSDAY!
- Your breath helps promote body balance.Do you have a hard time standing on one leg eyes open or eyes closed? Knowing where you are in space (proprioception) is essential for survival and staying injury free. Your breath works directly with your nervous system, specifically the autonomic nervous system which affects all 5 senses to include the touch and sight which are two key components in your body’s ability to balance. WE WILL TEST THIS THURSDAY NIGHT!
- Your breath can improve your ability to run longer and faster. By synchronizing your breath with your running cadence you increase your running efficiency, which translates into faster or longer. I like Alison McConnell’s thoughts on breathing especially during longer running days. “While there’s no golden rule, many runners find it more comfortable to take one breath for every two foot strikes. This means taking two steps (one left, one right) while breathing in, and two steps while breathing out- also known as a 2:2 rhythm (Alison McConnell, a breathing expert and author of “Breathe Strong Perform Better).”
- Breathing in through your nose and or mouth has its own benefits: “Breathing in through your nose is beneficial in many circumstances: Some experts say that nose breathing has its own benefits, including increased CO2 saturation in the blood, which creates a more calming effect. Breathing in through the nose can also help warm the air entering the lungs and might minimize allergen intake. Breathing in through your mouth is great for exercising because it takes on the path of least resistance. It allows you to take in more oxygen quickly which is necessary when moving heavy loads quickly (Dr. Roy Sugarman, Director of Applied Neuroscience for Athletes’ Performance and the U.S. National Men’s Soccer Team).”
- Your breath allows you to properly stabilize your spine, under loads.At the start of the lift holding your breath in a neutral spine position increases pressure inside the chest (which is good for stability), but holding it too long can affect the blood flow back to the heart and essentially raise blood pressure. Exhaling on the exertion phase of the exercise is equally important. The contracting muscles will help brace your spine under the load. So on both the re-set and exertion phase of the lift what you do with your breath is important in stabilizing your spine.
- Your breath helps create a calm state of mind. The diaphragm is being closely connected to your autonomic nervous system, which is the ruler of the sympathetic (fight/flight) and parasympathetic state (rest/digest). The more time you spend in an anxious, distressed state the more weakened your body can become, and your sympathetic nervous system takes over. The ability to achieve a parasympathetic state in your body then becomes a challenge over time. Deep abdominal breathing can be a ticket to helping you retrain your body and your mind to reach a parasympathetic state more quickly during each day.
- There are different types of breathing: Abdominal Breathing, otherwise known as belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, is the best way to relax and find your calm state. Thoracic Breathing, or chest breathing, is what most people do during their day. Finally, there is clavicular Breathing, otherwise known as stress breathing. We do not want this and THIS THURSDAY WE WILL LEARN WAYS TO BECOME AWARE AS WELL AS MITIGATE THIS TYPE OF BREATHING PATTERN.
What we will be doing Thursday:
- Mobilizing the muscles that help us breathe
- Mobilizing our spine (thoracic, cervical, ribs) incorporating breathing techniques
- Practicing clavicular, thoracic, and abdominal breathing
- End with a 10 minute breathing meditation
- 2 Yoga Tune Up® Balls ☺ or Lacrosse Balls