Take a deep breath. Hold it…5…4…3…2…1… now exhale. Doesn’t that feel good? Breathing is simple. And yet, breathing is also quite remarkable. Breathing is one of the many bodily functions that occur completely involuntary. Just imagine if you and I were required to consciously expand our chest and diaphragm while drawing new air into our lungs and then expiring old air from our body for every cycle of breath. How exhausting! Breathing is so easy, its automatic. You won’t need to consciously remind yourself to continue breathing while you read this article. You and I can even breathe while we sleep! However, unlike any other major organ in our body, we can voluntarily decide to slow our breathing, speed it up, and even stop breathing altogether! In His infinite wisdom, God has graciously provided us with this ability to voluntarily control our breathing.

We are often sensitive to poor air quality, we panic if we don’t get enough air, and we relish that first gulp of air as we remove our masks – ahhhh breathe it in. Breathing is good for your health. And if you don’t breathe, you’ll die. Thats how important breathing is to your life. Breathing truly is fascinating. Breathing is a gift from God.

Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. – Genesis 2:7

God gave you two lungs with an incredible air capacity. Unfortunately, most of us have grown to develop a poor habit of breathing from only a small fraction of our lungs, and we suffer for it tremendously. We know this in part, from the work of German physiologist Otto H. Warburg, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1931 for discovering that low oxygen is a characteristic of cancer cells,1 and also happens to be one of the causes of inflammation.2 Proper breathing, however, has been shown to relieve stress and lower blood pressure. Thus the importance of not only breathing, but breathing with purpose.

Breathe Deeply

Research has revealed a correlation between our respiratory rate and our overall lifespan. In other words, the higher your respiratory rate, the shorter your life.3 Just to give you an idea, the average respiratory rate for American adults is roughly 11-20 breaths per minute. This means most of us are actually breathing too much and not deep enough. We are living on shallow breaths. And thats a problem. But a problem we can fix!

Deep breathing offers benefits that make a major difference in your health. Deep breathing literally massages and moves the soft internal organs inside your rib cage, allowing your lymph system to rid itself of collected toxins.4 If your chest is the only thing that moves or expands, then you are still living on a shallow percentage of breathing. You can start by breathing from the abdomen or belly instead of the chest. If your stomach moves outward when you take a deep breath then you have learned the secret of breathing fully from the diaphragm.5

Stop Breathing Through Your Mouth!

We all know mouth breathers. You might even be one. Stop it! Mouth breathing changes the physical body and transforms your airways for the worse! Mouth breathing decreases pressure, causing the soft tissues in the back of your mouth to become loose and flexed inward, creating less space and making breathing more difficult. Astonishingly, mouth breathing causes the body to lose 40% more water.6 Nearly half of adults snore, and roughly 25% of adults over thirty years are victims of sleep apnea; with an additional 80% estimated moderate or severe cases that are undiagnosed.7 Mouth breathing contributes to periodontal disease and bad breath, and was the number one cause of cavities.8

Inhaling from the nose has the opposite effect. The nose is crucial because it clears air, heats it, and moistens it for easier absorption.9 In a single breath, more molecules of air will pass through your nose than all the grains of sand on all the worlds beaches.10 Nasal breathing alone can boost nitric oxide, which is one of the reasons we can absorb about 18% more oxygen than by just breathing through the mouth.11

Tape Your Mouth! One easy solution is to begin training yourself to breathe more regularly through your nose while you sleep by taping your mouth shut. How to apply mouth tape is a matter of personal preference. I personally find that a small piece of tape placed vertically over the lips is enough to do the trick.


Breathing Methods

Various breathing methods may significantly reduce respiratory rate, improve respiratory minute volume, and reduce oxidative stress in the body.12 Some breathing exercises are especially effective in reducing stress and tension. Extended exhalation effectively activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is linked to increased relaxation and recovery as well as lowered heart rate and blood pressure.13 Here are a few methods you should consider:

Box Breathing

Box breathing is a technique used when taking slow, deep breaths. It can improve performance and concentration while also serving as a calming stress reliever. The reason for the name is because of the helpful way the box (or square) helps you move through the four phases of breathing (inhale, hold, exhale, hold). Just follow along the box and keep pace as you move through the cycle. 

Wim Hof Method

Wim Hof (Definitely look this guy up!) has developed a method that utilizes a breathing technique known as Pranayama (which means “extended breathing”). A controlled study on humans was published on this method and the test subjects were able to regulate their sympathetic nervous system and immune system.14 The breathing ignites the body into an alert state, awakening the nervous system and preparing the body for performance.15 The best time to perform the breathing is before breakfast because when your stomach is full all the metabolic activity and all the oxygen are directed to the stomach and block the way.16

Begin by choosing a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Take 30 deep breaths. If possible breathe through the nose. The movement of each breath should feel like a wave. Its normal to feel lightheaded with a tingling sensation in your arms and hands, and a looseness in your body. This is a result of carbon dioxide exiting your body, and oxygen replacing it, making your body more alkaline in the process.17 At the end of 30 breaths, exhale, leaving about a quarter of the air in the lungs. Hold that breath for as long as possible. Don’t worry too much about how long you can hold your breath. If you are dealing with a lot of inflammation, you may need to breath sooner.18 Once you’ve reached your absolute limit, take one huge inhale and hold for another 15 seconds. Gently move that breath around your chest and to the shoulders, then exhale and start the circular breathing again. Repeat the entire pattern at least 3-5 times.

When performing the breathing method it is important to find your own rhythm and follow it. Once you feel the urge to breathe again, go ahead. Don’t hold your breath so long that you pass out. Just breathe in as soon as you feel the need.19 As you progress to round two and beyond, you will notice that you are able to go longer without breathing because your body has become more alkaline.20

Intermittent Hypoxia 

Hypoxia means the reduced oxygen supply of the body. This method may be implemented anywhere by holding your breath for a specific interval. Properly practicing this method is likely to improve the oxygen uptake of tissues, improve the function of the immune system, boost the production of antioxidants in the body,21 and increase the plasticity of the respiratory system.22

There are few different ways to approach this method. First, practice holding your breath while keeping your face in cold water for as long as possible. Repeat this five times with three stabilizing breaths between the exercise. Second, breathe rapidly and then hold your breath for as long as possible. Repeat five times. Hyperventilating increases the time you can spend holding your breath as it removes carbon dioxide from your blood. And third, hold your breath while swimming a length of 25 meters in cold water; stabilize your breath and then repeat the swimming interval for a total of 10 times.

Crocodile

This is an appropriately named method that trains your body’s main respiratory muscle, the diaphragm. The objective is to focus on deep abdominal breathing which may activate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce stress. Abdominal breathing may also reduce post-workout oxidative stress and accelerate the recovery process.23

Begin by laying face down on the floor with your hands beneath your forehead. Breathe deeply through your nose into your abdomen using a ratio of 2:1 where the exhale takes twice as long as the inhale. You will know when you are breathing correctly when your lower back rises up and your sides expand while inhaling, like a crocodile. Begin with 20 breaths and gradually increase the number.

Alternate Nostril

When you practice this method regularly common results include lower blood pressure, improved respiratory rate, resting heart rate, improved heart rate variability (HRV) and balanced function of the autonomic nervous system.24

Begin by sitting in a comfortable position and place your hand in front of your face with index and middle fingers directly on your forehead, while your thumb and ring finger are next to the nostrils. The thumb and ring finger will be used to cover the nostrils as you alternate.

Inhale slowly while closing your right nostril. Then release the right nostril and close the left nostril. Exhale slowly through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, release the left nostril, and close the right nostril. Exhale thought the left nostril. This completes one cycle of alternate nostril breathing. Repeat for approximately ten minutes.

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. – Job 33:4


WARNING! Do not practice any breathing techniques if you have any medical conditions such as asthma, COPD, cardiovascular disease or other chronic illness without first consulting your physician.


Consultation Request 

Choose all that apply

1Hof, Wim, and Epel Elissa PhD. The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. Sounds True, 2020, 45.

2Hof, Wim, and Epel Elissa PhD. The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. Sounds True, 2020, 45.

3Sovijärvi, Olli, et al. Biohacker’s Handbook: Upgrade Yourself and Unleash Your Inner Potential. 2nd ed., Biohacker Center, 2020, 285.

4Rubin, Jordan, and Charles Stanley. The Maker’s Diet: Updated and Expanded: The 40-Day Health Experience That Will Change Your Life Forever. Updated, Expanded, Destiny Image, 2004, 175.

5Rubin, Jordan, and Charles Stanley. The Maker’s Diet: Updated and Expanded: The 40-Day Health Experience That Will Change Your Life Forever. Updated, Expanded, Destiny Image, 2004, 91.

6Nestor, James. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Riverhead Books, 2020, 29.

7Nestor, James. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Riverhead Books, 2020, 32.

8Nestor, James. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Riverhead Books, 2020, 49.

9Nestor, James. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Riverhead Books, 2020, 39.

10Nestor, James. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Riverhead Books, 2020, 44.

11Nestor, James. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Riverhead Books, 2020, 50.

12Sovijärvi, Olli, et al. Biohacker’s Handbook: Upgrade Yourself and Unleash Your Inner Potential. 2nd ed., Biohacker Center, 2020, 285.

13Solberg, E. et al. (2000). Stress reactivity to and recovery from a standardized exercise bout: a study of 31 runners practicing relaxation techniques. British Journal of Sports Medicine 34 (4): 268-272.

14Sovijärvi, Olli, et al. Biohacker’s Handbook: Upgrade Yourself and Unleash Your Inner Potential. 2nd ed., Biohacker Center, 2020, 285.

15Hof, Wim, and Epel Elissa PhD. The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. Sounds True, 2020, 36-37.

16Hof, Wim, and Epel Elissa PhD. The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. Sounds True, 2020, 36.

17Hof, Wim, and Epel Elissa PhD. The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. Sounds True, 2020, 37.

18Hof, Wim, and Epel Elissa PhD. The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. Sounds True, 2020, 41.

19Hof, Wim, and Epel Elissa PhD. The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. Sounds True, 2020, 39.

20Hof, Wim, and Epel Elissa PhD. The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. Sounds True, 2020, 40.

21Sovijärvi, Olli, et al. Biohacker’s Handbook: Upgrade Yourself and Unleash Your Inner Potential. 2nd ed., Biohacker Center, 2020, 286.

22Sovijärvi, Olli, et al. Biohacker’s Handbook: Upgrade Yourself and Unleash Your Inner Potential. 2nd ed., Biohacker Center, 2020, 286.

 23Sovijärvi, Olli, et al. Biohacker’s Handbook: Upgrade Yourself and Unleash Your Inner Potential. 2nd ed., Biohacker Center, 2020, 287.

 24 Sovijärvi, Olli, et al. Biohacker’s Handbook: Upgrade Yourself and Unleash Your Inner Potential. 2nd ed., Biohacker Center, 2020, 454.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.