Breath of Life
The phrase breath of life originally comes from a verse in Genesis describing the creation of man. The emotions we feel and the thoughts of the mind link to the breath. It’s the universal law of correspondence at work. The quality and quantity of life force and the way it flows through us can enhance or inhibit our wellbeing.
Maximize Your Breathing Potential
When you control your breath, you can control your mind and emotions. Scientific research at Stanford University Medical Center shows how slow breathing induces tranquility and confirms the link between breath and states of being. You may have also heard of the iceman Wim Hoff method of breathing techniques backed by scientific research which demonstrates that, through practicing techniques learned in a short-term training program, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can be voluntarily influenced. (2014, Knox et. al.)
Neuroscientists have found that every inhale you take prods your sympathetic nervous system (the classic “fight or flight” response, when faced with a threat.) increasing your heart rate and dilating the pupils slightly. Exhaling activates the parasympathetic system, slows down your heart rate, constricting the pupils, and has a calming and relaxing effect.
"The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings." - TKV Desikachar
There are numerous styles of breathing techniques you can learn to keep your stress levels down. Start now by practicing slow deep breaths for a few minutes and think about setting aside some time to practice the style of breathing exercise that is right for you every day. Try any of the following:
Slow In / Slow Out
Breathe in for 4-5 steps and breathe out for 4-5 steps - This helps balance the O2 you breathe in and the CO2 you breathe out
Fast in / Slow Out
Breathe in for 2 steps and breathe out for 4 steps -This breathing pattern is good for use on medium efforts and at the end of training as you begin to fatigue. Great breathing technique for tempo work, race pace work and race day.
Fast in / Fast Out
Breathe in for 2 steps and breathe out for 2 steps -This breathing pattern is great for shorter intervals, and the end of a race.
Pursed Lip Breathing Benefits for Better Lung Function
Pursed lip breathing is a technique that allows you to control your oxygenation and ventilation. It gets rid of stale air and improves oxygen saturation in your lungs. It is done by breathing air in through the nose and exhaling through the mouth (pursed lips as if you are going to whistle) with a slow, controlled flow.
When your lips are pursed and exhalation is drawn out, it stimulates the autonomic nervous system and promotes relaxation. This has been shown to optimize lung mechanics and exercise tolerance for those with asthma, dyspnea, and other lung conditions. It is a popular technique that’s part of lung rehab programs as well as helping to reduce stress. Breathing in this manner is low-risk and allows people suffering from breathing issues to engage in physical activity more easily.