"Am I breathing properly?"
We hardly ask ourselves this simple question because breathing is something we do unconsciously every day. However, research is showing that breathing properly may not be as straightforward as it seems on the surface.
Breathing can impact your whole body, and how it regulates important functions including your heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, it can reinforce proper body mechanics placing less stress on your body as you move. Today we'll be taking an overview on the importance of breathing as well as provide a breathing technique you can try at home!
We hope to offer more value to our community both online and in person! Breathe is a series of articles we'll be making once a month going forwards to look at the importance of breathing and how it impacts your health.
We're going to be giving our Health Wise community awesome tips and exercises for breathing practice that you can try at home! If you're looking for more general health tips be sure to check out the Healthy Living section of our blog!
Led by Dr. Troy Sing who was recently voted one of the best TCM practitioners in Hong Kong, Health Wise has over thirty years of clinical experience. Our clinic aims to deliver the best Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments in Hong Kong. If you want to learn more about our clinic or make an appointment, feel free to contact us.
Let's dive into the article!
Breathing is central to life. Early humankind noted the value of breathing to the proper functioning of the body and mind. As early as 1000 B.C., Taoism in China placed importance on the idea of an internal breath that flowed through the body, and they viewed respiration as one of its key manifestations.
Different ancient cultures came to similar conclusions about the importance of breathing; the Chinese called it qi, Hindus called it prana, the Greeks termed it pneuma, and the Hebrews termed it rûah. The consensus was that controlling breath was vital towards improving health and well-being. Today, this practice has come full circle as scientific studies are finding the same conclusion for the importance of breathing on our health.
The power of breath is evident in those who are suffering from breathing difficulties.
Sporadic and acute instances where breathing is difficult can create further adverse reactions. For example, rapid breathing can cause panic attacks through a vicious circle whereby the fear triggers faster breathing, and faster breathing causes more fear.
When breathing conditions are chronic, anxiety is often induced. Anxiety and Depressive disorders are often found in people who have difficulty breathing due to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), with some estimates placing the occurrence rate as high as 60 percent.
Difficulty in breathing amongst COPD patients results in faster breathing. It can aggravate their physical discomfort and anxiety without improving the quality of their oxygen supply.
Deeper breathing can bring many health benefits.
Today let's take a look at a popular technique called cardiac coherence. This method of breathing aims to promote relaxation. It attempts to coordinate breathing with heart rate, by slowing and steadying the breath we can slow and stabilize the heartbeat.
The cardiac coherence breathing was developed upon the understanding that slow, deep breathing increases the activity of the vagus nerve which controls and measures the activity of many internal organs.
When the vagus nerve is stimulated, calmness can be created within the body. Our heart rate slows and becomes regular; blood pressure decreases and our muscles relax. This can lead to increased feelings of internal peace and well-being. Through stabilizing our breath and heartbeat we have the power within ourselves to dampen our anxiety.
Cardiac Coherence Breathing Technique
Let's jump into the Cardiac Coherence Breathing Technique.
A typical cycle involves inhaling for five seconds, then exhaling for the same amount of time. This creates a 10-second respiratory cycle.
This deep, regular breathing slows and stabilizes the heartbeats. Studies have confirmed the anxiety-diminishing effect of these techniques, applying slow breathing with conviction and rigor produces a positive result.
Different versions of cardiac coherence breathing recommend spending more time on exhaling than on inhaling. For example, inhale for four seconds and exhale for six seconds. Drawing out the second phase of the exhale can create a quieting effect on the heart.
Practice At Home
If you are interested in practicing coherent breathing, the following steps will show you how to get started:
Focus on your natural breathing.
Find a comfortable position to practice.
Place one hand on your stomach.
Breath in for five seconds and then out for five seconds.
Do this for one minute and work your way to five minutes.
Keep your hand on your stomach to make sure that you are breathing deeply. If you find yourself becoming distracted just bring yourself back to focusing on your breathing and counting the length of your breaths.
We encourage you to try this breathing technique whenever you can in your day-to-day life. Ideally, try to do these exercises three times a day.
Health Wise Chinese Medicine Clinic
We can try to manage conditions ourselves, however, sometimes you may want to seek professional help for the best results. At HealthWise, our professional team of practitioners will work together with you to create a custom solution to suit your condition and your body's needs. Come and see us today!
Learn More About Chinese Medicine
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