10 Reasons for Making Functional Breathing Your Priority in 2021:
1/Larger Lungs Equal Longer Life.
In the 1980s, researchers with the Framingham Study, a 70-year research program focused on heart disease, gathered two decades of data from 5,200 subjects, crunched the numbers and discovered that the greatest indicator of life span wasn’t genetics, diet, smoking or the amount of daily exercise. It was lung capacity.
Larger lungs equals longer life. People with reduced lung function demonstrated a greater risk for all-cause mortality.
2/Better Mental Health.
Breath and mind are two sides of the same coin. If you are concerned about your mental health, what better place to start than with the breath. When your mind is agitated, your breath follows suit. When you’re depressed, you develop a matching breathing pattern.
But it works the other way – when you calm the breath, your mind follows. When you charge the breath, the mind comes alive. Your breath and your knowledge of your breath is your best friend when it comes to your mental health.
3/Boost Your Immune Health.
If this year has taught us anything, it is the importance of having a robust immune system. The nose is your body’s first line of defence against bacteria and viruses. If you have a tendency to breathe through your mouth, you lose the protection of the cilia and mucus, as well as the anti-bacterial nitric oxide produced in the nasal cavities. (Nose breathing also helps the body stay hydrated, a vital part of immune function).
Research into breaths such as Tummo are also showing remarkable results in terms of activating the immune system with subjects able to resist viruses and bacteria such as e coli.
4/Maintain Your Body’s Vital pH Level
Your breathing, along with your kidneys, maintains the body’s vital pH level which allows healthy functioning of all organs and systems. When you don’t breathe properly, the body struggles to maintain the correct pH level and eats into its pH buffer by dumping bicarbonate via the kidneys. Not only does this tax the kidneys, it also means you will struggle to deal with more acidic foods and drinks.
5/ Optimise your energy levels
Optimise energy by ensuring maximum oxygen gets absorbed by your body. You can take in as much oxygen as you like but if your carbon dioxide levels are low, the cells won’t see any of it. Cue brain fog, fatigue, and anaerobic fermentation of sugar for energy leading to high levels of inflammation and an internal environment well suited to cancers.
Carbon dioxide levels and tolerance can be lowered by prolonged periods of stress, habitual dysfunctional breathing, illness, and medication among other things. It can be subconscious and happen very easily. The result is over-breathing. If you yawn or sigh a lot, you might want to take a look at your breathing pattern.
6/Regulate Your Emotions.
The heart and brain communicate. When we breathe in a “coherent” way (about 5.5 breaths a minute) we can self-regulate our emotions, and bring about more elevated emotions like compassion, love and forgiveness. These self-induced positive emotions increase the coherence in bodily processes, which is again reflected in the pattern of the heart’s rhythm. This shift in the heart’s rhythm in turn plays an important role in developing higher cognitive functions, creating emotional stability & states of calm. Over time, this establishes a new inner-baseline reference, changing our habitual perception, feelings, and behaviour.
Heart coherence is also a precursor to the highly sought after flow state, that sense of fluidity between your body and mind where you are totally absorbed by and deeply focused on something, beyond the point of distraction. You are at one with the task at hand, as action and awareness create an effortless momentum. Some people describe this feeling as being “in the zone.”
There isn’t an illness or condition out there that isn’t caused by or made worse by dysfunctional breathing. From heart disease to back pain, chronic fatigue to allergies. For more on this check out my previous article.
8/ Improve your sex life…
…and your digestion, lung and mental functions. Carbon dioxide is a vasodilator – it causes the blood vessels to dilate. If your carbon dioxide levels are healthy, blood will flow easily to where it needs to go.
Carbon dioxide in this way is also a sedative – when the blood flows freely, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard and the internal organs are happier. The body feeds this back to the brain as the absence of threat. Happy body, happy mind.
9/Maintain Your Posture.
Dysfunctional breathing can have a detrimental affect on your posture. Mouth breathers are much more likely to develop the no neck forward head position that puts pressure on the spine, lungs and heart.
Shallow breathing is not only inefficient but it also involves using the accessory muscles of breathing such as the shoulders, upper back and upper chest. The accessory muscles should only be used in the case of heavy exercise. Stiff shoulders and neck pain can be an indicator of dysfunctional breathing.
The body also exhibits a gentle wave like movement as you breathe correctly, that moves the lymph, spinal fluid, and massages the internal organs. Dysfunctional breathing removes this function, meaning your body has to work harder to maintain balance. It also eats into core strength, adjusts the position of the rib cage in relation to the pelvis, and over time can lead to back problems.
10/ It’s free
Just a small investment of time and a whole toolbox of health hacks is yours. Breath is the fundamental building block of your health. You do it over 17,000 times a day. Get it right and it will pay unlimited dividends.