Think of the last time you had a cold with congestion and ended up sleeping with your mouth open all night. Now think of how icky you felt the next morning. Not only did you a dry mouth and a scratchy throat, but you likely had a dull headache, lacked concentration and felt like you barely slept. You may have attributed this to the cold in general but most of those symptoms stemmed pretty much exclusively from the lack of breathing through your nose. Anyone with asthma or sleep apnea can attest to the inability to full nose breathe creating a cascade of troubling issues in the body. This information coupled with statistics that approximately 545 million people across the globe struggle with a chronic respiratory condition should send us all a strong message that breathing is a critically important component of your health & longevity practice.1
Breath work and meditation are often looked at as a “kooky” practices of the wellness world, but just a few moments a day of intentional breathing patterns can significantly improve important markers of health, such as reducing blood pressure, increasing heart rate variability, increasing blood flow and enhancing nervous system coordination. In fact, the practice of Coherent Breathing (taking less than 10 breaths per minute) has shown impressive effects in a wide variety of patient population, most notably those with chronic anxiety and depressive disorders.2
So how can you start to breathe better for your health? Start slowly so that better, more effective breathing becomes normal habit. Here are some of our favorite practices that fold seamlessly into everyday life:
- Baseline Check. simply assess how you breathe right now. Set a timer for one minute and count how many breaths you take when breathing at your normal rate. Now see if you can reduce that number by 5 in the next minute. How close to 10 breaths per minute can you get? Repeat this practice a few times per week at any time of the day.
- Breathe to Eat. Work breath work into your daily meals. Take 3 deep breaths before eating, 3 deep breaths throughout the meal (fork down) and 3 deep breaths after. Assess how this changed the entire meal experience.
- Breathe to Sleep. You’ve heart of counting sheep, now try counting breaths. Match every second of inhale with the same amount of time exhaling while laying in bed getting ready to sleep. Count the breaths until you doze off.
- Box Breath. This is a fantastic starter technique to practice slowing and pacing your breath. Join our Yoga & Breath Trainer Jenny in this easy tutorial!
- Lancet Respir Med.2020 Jun; 8(6): 585–596. doi: 1016/S2213-2600(20)30105-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7284317/
- Front Hum Neurosci.2018; 12: 353. Published online 2018 Sep 7. doi: 3389/fnhum.2018.00353. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137615/