Benefits of Slow Breathing

1. Breathing detoxifies and releases toxins.

2. Breathing releases tension.

3. Breathing relaxes the mind/body and brings clarity.

4. Breathing relieves emotional problems.

5. Breathing relieves pain.

6. Breathing massages your organs.

7. Breathing increases muscle.

8. Breathing strengthens the immune system.

9. Breathing improves posture.

10. Breathing improves quality of the blood.

11. Breathing increases digestion and assimilation of food.

12. Breathing improves the nervous system.

13. Breathing strengthens the lungs.

14. Proper breathing makes the heart stronger.

15. Proper breathing assists in weight control.

16. Breathing boosts energy levels and improves stamina.

17. Breathing improves cellular regeneration.

18. Breathing elevates moods.

Even Readers Digest got into writing about breathing saying, “What could be more basic than breathing? Inhale, exhale, repeat… right? Not exactly. While western science and medicine focus on breathing as a bodily function integral to survival, eastern health sciences approach it as nourishment for both body and spirit. The Chinese believe that mindful breathing, or “breath work,” has numerous benefits, including improved focus and efficiency, increased positivity, and greater physical and mental energy.”

“The body can store many of the things it needs to function such as vitamins and food in the form of fat. Oxygen is one item that cannot be stored in sufficient quantities for more than a few minutes. At rest, the blood holds about a quart of dissolved oxygen, but it is continually being used by the cells to produce energy. The lungs need to be constantly working to furnish a sufficient supply for various activities.”

Your breathing or respiratory rate is defined as the number of breaths a person takes during a one-minute period while at rest. Recent studies suggest that an accurate recording of respiratory rate is very important in predicting serious medical events. Since many factors can affect the results, understanding how to take an accurate measurement is important. While watching a clock, count the number of times you breathe in two minutes. Make three trials, and find the average. Divide by two to find the average number of breaths per minute.

The rate should be measured at rest, not after someone has been up and walking about. Being aware that your breaths are being counted can make the results inaccurate, as people often alter the way they breathe if they know it is being monitored. Nurses are skilled at overcoming this problem by discretely counting respiration, watching the number of times your chest rises and falls — often while pretending to take your pulse.

Lung expert Dr. Lynne Eldridge says that, “In general, children have faster respiratory rates than adults, and women breathe more often than men. The normal ranges for different age groups are listed below:

Newborn: 30-60 breaths per minute

Infant (1 to 12 months): 30-60 breaths per minute

Toddler (1-2 years): 24-40 breaths per minute

Preschooler (3-5 years): 22-34 breaths per minute

School-age child (6-12 years): 18-30 breaths per minute

Adolescent (13-17 years): 12-16 breaths per minute

Adult: 12-18 breaths per minute (Fast breathing is the ‘new’ normal)

Dr. Sheldon Saul Hendler writes, “Breathing is unquestionably the single most important thing you do in your life. And breathing right is the single most important thing you can do to improve your life.” So what is the actual difference to our lives and health when we breathe less? You will be astounded by the information that Michael White has put together. 85,000 people filled out his questionnaire on his site yielding the following vital information:

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Courtesy breathing.com

You should stare at this chart for a while and really let its information sink in. You can clearly see that slow breathers have health and fast breathers are just having the toughest time with their bodies and life. Fast breathers suffer from much higher levels of anxiety, depression, sleeping disorders and high blood pressure than slow breathers.

Dr. Fred Muench, says, “Once you go below 10 breaths a minute you start to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body relax when it has been injured. Slow breathing activates the vagus nerve, the primary cranial nerve, which is associated with a recuperative state." Perhaps more important, slow breathing tends to increase heart-rate variability, a measurement of the fluctuation in heartbeat during an activity. "If your heart rate fluctuates 60 to 80 beats per minute, cardiac-wise that's healthier than someone whose heart rate varies between only 70 and 75 beats per minute," says Muench. "It means your system is not so rigid. Someone like Lance Armstrong has a massive swing in heart-rate variability, whereas an unhealthy or older person has a much smaller one. The way to increase variability is to breathe slowly."

A person who is breathing at four breaths a minute will only breathe about 5,760 times a day. At the “normal” breathing rate of eight breaths a minute that count doubles to 11,520 breaths a day. At 16, which is still slow for many ill people that rate reaches to 23,000 breaths a day. At 25 breaths a minute, we are clipping along at 36,000 breaths a day, which is a far cry above a normal rate.

Dr. Buteyko found that virtually all sick people (asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.) have accelerated respiratory patterns. During rapid breathing carbon dioxide becomes deficient, oxygen delivery to the cells is reduced, breath-holding time is reduced, and the natural automatic pause is absent in each breath.

After thirty years of studying over 5,000 patients in what was called the Framingham studies, doctors from the Boston University School of Medicine said they could predict both long-term and short-term mortality based on peoples’ breathing capacity. Dr. William Kannel said a person’s vital breathing capacity can, “Pick out people who are going to die 10, 20 or 30 years from now.”

Al Lee and Don Campbell in their book Perfect Breathing say, “The impact of the breath extends into every aspect of life and shows itself at the root of human function. Ancient teachers, sages, yogis, and martial artists discovered its power and developed disciplines around it with yoga and Qigong and karate, among so many other practices. Understanding the breath means understanding the human machine and how each breath can be used to develop and control the body. Breathing forms the foundations of meditation, contemplative thought and prayer, but it is also informing science and medicine, as conscious breathing proves its mettle as a tool to fight stress, build up immunity to disease, and heal the body in many ways. What is a perfect breath? Far from being some noble yet unreachable goal that takes years of rigorous practice to master, a perfect breath is any breath you take for which you are completely mindful and aware. In the space of that one simple breath, great things can be accomplished. Perfect breathing is absolutely attainable, and within easy reach. In fact, your very next breath can be a perfect breath.”

Most modern people suffer from breathing problems. The common problems include chest breathing (as opposed to abdominal diaphragmatic), mouth breathing, and hyperventilation (breathing too fast), all of which reduce oxygen levels in body cells and promote chronic diseases. Bottom line is the quicker we breathe the sicker we become. Breathing too fast will end one in a casket if one is not careful, and certainly life will be lived with pain and disease unless one gets control.

Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan writes, “I noticed that over 75% of the clients (not patients - these were 'well' corporate employees) were breathing sub-optimally in ways that would make them stressed, chronically exhausted, overweight and insomniac. It is very important to our health to get our breathing right. My advice is simple - just for 21 days become even slightly obsessed with your breathing. Notice it five times a day: first thing in the morning before you get out of bed, last thing at night as you drift off to sleep, and then find three other times during the day. Put your feet on the ground, drop your breathing into your belly, exhale long and inhale fat. Breathe well consciously so you can breathe well unconsciously.”

Warning: Depending on the severity and type of the condition, patients can worsen their health if they go into intensive breathing sessions too aggressively. Some critically ill patients can develop even higher blood pressure, panic attacks, and migraine headaches from aggressive and rapid changes in breathing.