Respiration Exercises to Support Health and Wellbeing, and Aid Longevity

Medically reviewed by Warren Williams
Medically reviewed by Warren Williams on April 27, 2020
C.H.E.K Practitioner
Updated on April 27th, 2020
How to Increase Lung Capacity

Yes, the world is going through what many are calling a “global crisis” or “ pandemic,” but… “The label that you put on an event, is the event!“ In other words, as science has often explained through the understanding of psycho-neural-immunology, there is no such thing as actual reality; there is only perceived reality! The perceived reality, in simple terms, means that we are all reacting to our own internal programming.

We have a system in our bodies called the HPA axis– Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is how our body reacts neurochemically; this is actually what is known as the stress response.

When humans experience a stressful event, three things happen; we first see the event; secondly, we react to the event, and finally, we internalize the event, and it’s the internalization that creates the psycho-physiological effects on own body as well as our minds. 

All stressors can be placed into two distinct categories: 

  1. Situational stress– worry over finances, relationship issues, anxiety, etc.
  2. Physiological stress– food intolerances, back pain, impaired breathing.

Regardless of the above, all stress is seen as the same in the body, stress is stress and impacts the immune system.

The stress response- “Reactions of the body to forces of a deleterious nature, infections, and various abnormal states that tend to disturb its normal physiologic equilibrium (homeostasis)”

Cognitive appraisal = your process of thinking/perceiving. How you perceive an event is how you respond to an event.  

Ask yourself: Can I breathe? Do I have clothes? Do I have shelter? Do I have warmth? Safety? Do I have access to food/water? Do I have love in my life? If the answer is YES, then there is no need to worry.

I am addressing all of the above to put into context the importance of your mind and perceptions, as these are ultimately what has an effect on our stress load.

Now, from a physical point of view, the first physiological reaction in the body to what the mind perceives as a stressful event is holding of the breath!

Think! What do you normally do when you are startled? You hold your breath for a moment; think about when you are watching the news surrounding the rising death rates, and the constant negative reports, when you are shocked, you hold your breath! 

Think about what you do as a physical action when you witness or receive stressful news; you put your hand on your heart or over your mouth!

Remember, no one is reacting to an event! If two people go on a roller coaster ride and one loves it, and one does not, they have both experienced the SAME event; yet have completely different reactions to the event!

My point here is this; you react to an event, based on your perception of the event, and as you internalize the event, you hold your breath, and as you hold your breath you store that emotion as cellular information.

We have two branches to our autonomic nervous system; sympathetic and parasympathetic, sympathetic is the fight and flight system that we activate in times of stress as we mobilize cortisol to react to events, parasympathetic is our repair, digest and rest system that activates in a calm state and helps us to heal when we also sleep.

Breath is a way we translate information into our nervous system. The faster we breathe, the more stress we are experiencing. The slower we breathe, the calmer we are.

The greatest pandemic humans are experiencing right now, in my opinion, is fear! Fear triggers a stress response, which suppresses the immune system, which is the best line of defense for your body!

It does not matter how many supplements your take if your immune system is suppressed by stress when glucocorticoids are produced through fear and triggered by anxiety, the best way to deal with fear, is to control your breathing.

During this isolation, we must start to change the label we use for this term firstly, if we see this period as a reset or pause, a time to spend with family and a chance to work from home and “be with ourselves” we change the perception.

So many people have been asking for a break from the constant day to day grind, so many people have wished to be able to work from home, to spend time with their children and to have time to learn a new language, exercise or write a book, well now we all have that time!

I am not saying that we lie to our selves, I am saying that we focus on the good things that are real, we do all have more time on our hands, it’s just we have to determine what we do with it!

How to Increase Lung Capacity?  

Here are some key breathing exercises to strengthen your lungs, diaphragm (the main respiratory muscle) and help shift you into the parasympathetic state that helps your mental state of mind during this isolation.

  • Box Breathing

Inhale for 8 seconds, hold (breath) for 8 seconds, exhale (breath) for 8 seconds, Hold for 8 seconds, do between 4-8 rounds of this exercise, perform either laying down is sat tall in a firm chair.

  • Breath-Holding

Take a slow deep breath-hold the breath as long as you safely can, exhale, wait 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 more times if you feel light-headed either stop the exercise or shorten the holds until you improve, perform either laying down is sat tall in a firm chair.

  • Fire Breathe

Sit tall or standing, place your hands above your head with palms touching, dynamically/rapidly inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth for between 30-80 breaths, perform as one continuous round.

  • Piston Breathing

Take one deep soft inhale through the nose for between 8-20 seconds, hold the breath for 2 seconds, exhale between 10-30 rapid short breaths, repeat 3 times, perform this drill sitting tall in a firm chair.

Note: a firm chair- you should not be sitting in a chair that makes you slouch, rather a chair that you can relax your abdominal muscles yet sit with good posture.

Always inhale through the nose and exhale with pursed lips (like whistling) through the mouth.

About the Author:

Warren WilliamsWarren Williams, C.H.E.K Practitioner

Warren is a traveler on the path of growth, a peaceful warrior, having learned that life is the lesson.

Warren combines a great feel for body movement and mechanics fostered by over 25 years of martial arts practice with 20 years studying esoteric practices such as meditation, energy healing, and emotional self-management to help people honor themselves and become their own master.

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