What do belly breathing, alternate nostril breathing, singing, chanting, deep slow breathing and other forms of resistance breathing all have in common?
Interestingly, incorporating one or more of these types of breathing at first signs of pain can greatly help with providing relief. As a fitness guru, yoga instructor and Certified Nutritional Practitioner, I often come across clients who experience some degree of chronic pain every day.
Correlations now exist between maladaptive biological memories to changes in the tissue and nervous system, and chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, PTSD and joint pain. The connection between breathing techniques and healing mechanisms are becoming more widely accepted.
Medical doctors, neuroscientists and health professionals everywhere are discovering the immeasurable healing effects that deep breathing practices can have on clinical and ongoing chronic pain.
– Contributor: Jenna Mangan, Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, RNPA, Athletic Recovery, YOGA Trainer, 200RYT
Deep breathing results in greater oxygen and nutrient delivery because air is drawn deep into the pockets of the lungs. This is where the greatest amount of blood flow occurs. As a rest, there may be an increase in energy levels and an improvement in stamina during physical activity.
There are also times when severe pain can bring on fatigue. Short chest breaths from living in an anxious state can lead to the fatigue of ischemic tissue.
When the breath is slowed and blood supply may be restored, the tissue becomes less acidic nutrients and more accessible. Energy levels increase and the stress response system becomes more resilient. This leaves the sufferer with less wear and tear on the body and overall more flexible cardiovascular system.
Revisiting the ancient art of deep breathing to manage pain
Throughout history, many great healers focused on breathing techniques and realized the power that the respiratory system has on our health. Any dedicated yogi or yogini will point out the great difference between breathing and conscious deep breathing.
Breathing deeply and consciously offers us a change to seek clarity, be present, steady the mind, and sway our perception. It also heals by means of changing tissue pH at a cellular level. Therefore it decreases inflammation and restoring balance to our nervous systems.
Did you know? Babies whose brains and emotional and cognitive abilities haven’t yet fully developed, breathe more deeply than adults. They’ve got the hang of deep breathing, naturally!
It’s not just our lungs that can benefit from deep breathing
Researchers are now seeing proof of how deep breathing practices can have a restorative effect on a damaged or diseased nervous system. Also, it shows how certain breathing techniques can kickstart the parasympathetic nervous system.
Many ancient traditional forms of movement and meditative practices show to restore the nervous system by stimulating the vagus nerve through the breath. Identified as form of resistance breathing, these methods act to slow the heart rate and lengthen the exhale, in turn stimulating the nervous system.
Since the nervous system has a synergy with breathing patterns, and hormonal and glandular functionally, it is likely that pain and other symptoms may appear and disappear according to one’s breathing practices.
You may feel relief from the release of muscle tension alone, even if the perception of pain may still represent.
A simple deep breathing exercise for you
An extremely simple breathing technique that can be done almost anywhere:
Take a large, exaggerated breath from deep in the belly. Count to five again on the exhale, blowing out through the mouth. Try to lie in a supine position, if possible. Complete five sets, five to 10 times a day for best pain relief results.
Experiment with different breathing techniques alongside a qualified healthcare professional. There are a wide range of practices offered, so find one that’s comfortable and make it a daily ritual.
Deep breathing brings relief from mental, emotional and physical pain, improves mental and physical performance, increases blood flow and reduces tension in the body and mind.