The breath.

On average the body can only last roughly 3 minutes without oxygen. It is obviously a necessity. Your body will alter & adapt your musculoskeletal system as it needs, to facilitate the requirements of breathing/getting enough oxygen etc.. Things like forward head posture can be a result of the body rearranging in order to better serve the breath.

The breath helps pump the body, giving our vital organs the gentle massage they need with every inhale & exhale. The breath can alter our state of fight & flight, changing whether we are in a stressed state or in a state of repair & recovery.

We have all heard or seen Wim Hof & his crazy feats in the ice, likewise in the severe heat. He has also used his breath practice to literally fight off pathogens introduced via drip in hospital. He used his breath to regulate his immune response. To me this is incredible, & as much as I find it fascinating, this is not foreign to any of us. Wim Hof is no different to you or me & these capabilities with the breath are at your very fingertips.

One of the first things I try & educate clients on is their own ability to down regulate or up regulate their Central Nervous System & in doing so their fight or flight response. When we breathe through the mouth, naturally this triggers a stress response in the body. This has a number of reactions like the release of cortisol, shutting down digestive function, slowing metabolism, it is basically preparing us to run or escape from immediate danger.

Imagine the impact this would then have on someone who is constantly breathing through the mouth? Literally walking around all day triggering this response… While the release of cortisol has many benefits, the prolonged exposure is actually catabolic, meaning it is destructive to tissue. It will also take its toll on your adrenal glands which will then flow over in to hormone production & regulation.

This is a serious chain of events, without even taking into consideration the other stressful occurrences in one’s day.

When we take control of our ability to breathe, with proper diaphragmatic technique we can actually reverse the above process. We can trigger the para sympathetic nervous system. In doing so allows for proper digestive function, boosts metabolism, creates an anabolic state of tissue repair & also gives us the ability to produce important hormones for sleep, repair & a place in which we can cultivate energy.

If you were to choose something as simple as tea break at work each day, & use this time just to check in & see how your relationship is to the breath… Is it fast paced? Shallow? Through the mouth? The nose? Use these little “check in’s” to reset the breath, to slow it down.

Maybe you would like to perform 5 rounds of box breathing… 4 seconds in through the nose, hold the breath in 4 seconds, exhale 4 seconds, hold breath out 4 seconds.

This easy little exercise has the ability to down regulate that sympathetic state we often find ourselves in through a busy, stressful day at work. No one even has to know you are doing it. It takes up no time & you may find it gives you a fresh kick for the next phase of your day, may improve your mental performance, tolerance to stress & difficulty

When we take all of this information into account, you can see why a proper breathing assessment is necessary when wanting to perform optimally, when rehabilitating injury or recover from illness.

The breath holds the key to an optimal life. It is the biggest life hack we could hope for & it sits right at our finger tips.