4 Things Conscious Breathing Does For Your Immune SystemNov 01, 2022
Could conscious breathing practices be a secret to boosting your immune system? There is a strong case for using breathing exercises to fortify and strengthen your immune system naturally and in this article we are going to look at how this works and give you some effective practices that you can use start to use today. Let’s jump in!
People often turn to breathing exercises to manage stress and anxiety while finding inner strength. However, most people are unaware that those "immediate" positive effects on mood and cognitive function extend to enhance the immune system and increase resistance against disease.
#1 Resonance Frequency Breathing Lowers Inflammation
First up, let’s talk about chronic inflammation because according to research, chronic inflammation leads to a weakened immune system and its something we can directly influence through a specific breathing practice I’ll share with you here.
Now inflammation is a natural part of our healing process but chronic inflammation is bad news and it happens when we remain under prolonged mental and emotional stress. What happens is that we stay in a state of vigilance for so long that the relaxation response of our nervous system becomes incapable of switching off the inflammation as it should.
Our sympathetic nervous system is responsible for directing our natural and involuntary response to what we perceive as a danger or stress. When we feel we might encounter a threat of some kind, the body sends a rush of hormones to increase our alertness, boost hormone levels, raise the heart rate and flood the muscles with extra blood. But if we continue to ruminate on our anxieties, the vigilance continues and that’s when inflammation starts to run amok causing damage and disease.
To stop chronic inflammation, we need to switch on the relaxation response so it gets more robust at a nerve level and this is something you can learn to do consciously through breathing. One of the best methods for doing this is a practice of Resonance Frequency Breathing, a simple breathing practice where you breathe between 5 and 6 breaths per minute in a smooth, oscillating pattern. Just breathe in continuously for 5 or 6 seconds, breathe out for 5 or 6 seconds and with each exhalation, relax your mind and body.
Resonance Frequency Breathing is a super beneficial practice which brings balance to the oscillating nature of many systems including the heart rate, blood pressure and the nervous system gets to balance properly between that fight-flight mode and the relaxation mode where the overactive inflammation patterns switch off and the body has a chance to repair the damage caused and through that, improve the immune system response. It’s also really a great practice to help balance the blood pressure so if you or someone you love has high blood pressure, you will definitely want to check out a video I did on that.
#2 Conscious Connected Breathwork Strengthens Immune Response
Resonance Frequency Breathing is a kind of connected breathing practice- that is, the inhale connects to the exhale without any pause between the breath- inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale and so on. And when you pick up the pace of it and ignore the strict timing, you get to a different world of conscious connected breathwork which is used in many different ways for mind and body healing. One variation of connected breathwork is used in the Wim Hof Method and clinical studies on this showed that doing this practice can influence your immune systems to work more effectively. The test took volunteers who were trained in the method and a control group, injected them both with endotoxins which make people sick. Those who were trained got busy doing this practice of breathing and didn’t get sick. The ones who breathed normally, did.
This breath stimulates the fight-flight response- yea the one that causes the problems if it goes on to long so its kind of opposite to the Resonance Frequency Breathing- See, the fight flight response is also activated when you do exercise- it’s what allows you to intentionally move faster or lift a heavy weight and it’s part of our immune system response. The key is getting the right balance, to activate that side and then calm down again so we have both. Exercise helps us do that and that’s one reason it keeps us healthy. And what is particularly compelling about breathwork practices is that we can achieve many of the same benefits as exercise, while barely moving at all! Give it a try in this video where I teach how to use this same practice plus breath holding for increasing energy
#3 Diaphragmatic Breathing Lowers Cortisol
One of the mechanisms of how conscious breathing makes us feel better is because it lowers the stress hormones cortisol and we know that high cortisol levels place us at increased risk for autoimmune diseases. One recent study which analyzed 100,000 people who have stress-related disorders and found that these individuals were more likely to have autoimmune diseases.
But in case you needed any scientific proof that breathing can help you relax, a 2017 study found that the practice of diaphragmatic breathing is particularly effective to lower cortisol. To practice diaphragmatic breathing, place your hands on your side body where one half of your hands are on your side ribs, the other half is on the flesh. As you breathe in, push the breath downwards. Feel both the ribs and the flesh expand at the same time so that your belly slightly expands on each inhale.
#4 Brahmari "Bee" Breathing Boosts Host Defense
This next technique is an interesting one. It’s done by creating a bee-like buzzing upon exhalation. The vibration it creates in the sinuses helps stimulate the production of nitric oxide, a gas which helps to neutralize pathogens from the airways and can enhance the immune response and overall wellness.
Nitric Oxide is produced in two places in the body. One is in the endothelial tissue and it plays a role here to help dilate the blood vessels. For this reason, nitric oxide is the key ingredient in Viagra, because erections need expanded blood vessels!
The other place nitric oxide is produced is in the paranasal sinuses and is part of our natural defense system if we are breathing through the nose. Viruses shrivel in the presence of nitric oxide and it has been shown clinically that it may be an effective treatment for covid-19. One of my favorite case reports on this humming breathing practice describes a man who hummed for an hour a day to cure himself of a serious nose infection in only four days.
How to Practice the Bee Breath
All you need to do is make a humming sounds on your exhale so that you feel the vibrations rattling your sinuses. These vibrations move the nitric oxide out of the paranasal sinuses and into the airways, and then it’s very important that you breathe in through the nose to make this work. This spreads the nitric oxide through the airways and lungs where it does its magic on your behalf. To increase the effect of the exercise you can gently massage the sinuses around your nose, temples and above your eye sockets while doing the exercise.
And If you have a stubborn blocked nose or sinusitis repeat this exercise for 10 to 20 minutes, two to four times a day for a few days or until symptoms improve.
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