The Health Benefits of Therapeutic Breathing
Written by Eli Ben-YehudaOn September 3, 2019
According to the American Heart Association Journal, meditation has been part of human societies in various forms for thousands of years. The optimal manner to categorize the myriad techniques is open to opinion. It should be emphasized that their origins typically relate to endeavors to improve awareness or consciousness and have little to do with the treatment of hypertension.
In the limited context of this review, we have divided practices into focused attention (ie, mantra and training awareness) for example Zen, pranayama, and mindfulness meditation.
The Autonomic and Parasympathetic Nervous System
Breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system, which is comprised of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. In general, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for governing our responses to stimuli, deciding whether they are threatening, and tripping the signals that tell the body how to react. This is sometimes described as fight or flight responses.
The parasympathetic nervous system helps the body calm back down after the danger or stressors has passed.
One of the things that the sympathetic nervous system effects is the breath. In the presence of real danger, the breath becomes fast and short as your body tries to load itself with oxygen to facilitate its escape. This kind of breathing is also a response to non-life-threatening stressors. It happens in response to panic and then perpetuates the panic. If we’re aware of this, we can deliberately slow and deepen the breath, by signaling the body that it’s OK to calm down. Your breath is a powerful force you can use to control your body’s responses to stress.
The Power of Therapeutic Breathing
How does slower breathing help? In stressful times, we typically breathe too rapidly. This leads to a buildup of oxygen in the bloodstream and a corresponding decrease in the relative amount of carbon dioxide, which in turn upsets the ideal acid-alkaline balance — the PH level — of the blood. This condition, known as respiratory alkalosis, can result in muscle twitching, nausea, irritability, lightheadedness, confusion, and anxiety.
In contrast, slowing the breath raises the carbon dioxide level in the blood, which nudges the pH level back to a less alkaline state. As the blood’s pH changes, the parasympathetic nervous system calms us in a variety of ways, including telling the vagus nerve to secrete acetylcholine, a substance that lowers the heart rate.
Unaided breathing techniques, such as Zen meditation & pranayama, require training and concentration, whether it is counting breaths or focusing on the breathing sensation. Trying to prolong the exhalation on your own requires conscious “decision making” process which elevates the sympathetic nervous system activity and therefore is less optimal for lowering blood pressure.
If you want your breath to work as an extra-strength remedy, it’s a good idea to do some preliminary practice before you try to apply these techniques. First, spend some time with your breath when you’re feeling good, learning to closely watch its movements and tendencies.
Therapeutic Breathing Methods:
Three-Part Breath – Dirga Pranayama A good breathing exercise for beginners. Doing three-part breath teaches you how to fill and empty the lungs completely, which is important because you’re probably not used to using your full lung capacity. It’s also a nice way to transition into your yoga session.
Equal Breathing – Sama Vritti Pranayama Taking long, deep, slow breaths has a relaxing effect on the body. Bringing your full attention to keeping your inhalations and exhalations the same length occupies your mind, giving it a much needed break from its usual hum of activity.
Alternate Nostril Breathing – Nadi SodhanaIn nadi sodhana, you block off one nostril, exhaling and inhaling through the open passageway before switching sides. This helps bring you into balance by clearing the energy channels on both sides of the body.
Zen meditation is a traditional Buddhist discipline which can be practiced by new and seasoned meditators alike. One of the many benefits of Zen meditation is that it provides insight into how the mind works. As with other forms of Buddhist meditation, Zen practice can benefit people in myriad ways, including providing tools to help cope with depression and anxiety issues.
The deepest purpose is spiritual, as the practice of Zen meditation uncovers the innate clarity and the work of the mind. In Zen, experiencing this original nature of mind is experiencing awakening.
On the everyday level, Zen trains the mind to achieve calmness.
Meditation practitioners are also able to reflect with better focus and more creativity. Improved physical health is another benefit: people who practice zazen report lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety and stress, better immune systems, more restorative sleep, and other improvements.
Device Guided Breathing:
RESPeRATE is a combination of “Ancient Wisdom” with “New technology”. RESPeRATE is highly effective in lowering BP since it actually combines both the ancient wisdom of pranayama breathing and a patented technological twist of biofeedback called feed-forward.
RESPeRATE acts as your personal coach to lead you to perform the therapeutic breathing exercise subliminally, without any effort. RESPeRATE technology takes advantage of the human body’s natural tendency to follow external rhythms and a patented interactive “feed-forward” concept.
RESPeRATE’s patented “Device-Guided Breathing” taps the body’s natural tendency to follow musical rhythms. RESPeRATE analyses the breathing pattern and composes, in real time, a personalized melody with two distinct inhale and exhale guiding tones.
By gradually prolonging the exhalation tone, RESPeRATE leads the patient to the therapeutic zone of 5-6 breaths per minute with prolonged exhalation guiding tones. After each session of device-guided breathing, respiration returns to normal, but the beneficial impact on blood pressure accumulates and is maintained with routine use.
Conscious breathing is a choice that prompts conscious awareness. Choosing to breathe with no pauses in a connected way, propels an increase of awareness within the body’s physical, energetic, and perceptual systems, and inspires an increased interchange between a person’s conscious and subconscious mind. But with RESPeRATE we have created a device that will allow you to do this effortlessly.
The Many Health Benefits Of The Breathing Exercises:
Reduce Stress and Anxiety:
Abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.
Helps Induce Sleep:
Practicing breathing exercises when you lay down to go to sleep at night, and also if you wake up during the night and have trouble falling back to sleep. This is especially helpful if you find your mind racing or preoccupied, which many people with insomnia do. The idea is to continue to redirect your attention to your breathing and your body any time you find yourself lost in thought. When you let thoughts go and simply keep your attention on your breathing, you are better able to welcome sleep.
Helps To Lower Your Blood Pressure:
Breathing deeply and slowly can improve your blood flow and regulate your heart rate which leads to blood pressure reduction. Deep breathing encourages the body to intake a greater volume of oxygen, exchanging it for outgoing carbon dioxide.
This exchange slows the heart rate and stabilize your blood pressure. If you suffer from high blood pressure practicing some simple breathing exercises may help you control your blood pressure to a certain degree in order to avoid invasive treatments or prescription medication.
Deep breathing has been proven so effective that the FDA has approved it as a treatment for both lowering stress levels, and blood pressure.
Helps Heart Failure Patients:
A new peer-reviewed article published in “Clinical Research in Cardiology” reported on a 6-months clinical study with two-year follow-up. The new study validates, for the first time, the sustained long-time beneficial effects of RESPeRATE therapy on severe heart failure patients.
According to the study, while using RESPeRATE none of these severe, high-risk heart failure patients experienced worsening of the condition, hospital admissions or death.
RESPeRATE improved their cardio-respiratory capacity, functional performance, and basically slowed the progression of the condition.
Lowers Your Risk of Vascular Dementia:
The population of elderly adults in the US is growing, and the prevalence of age-related cognitive decline and dementia is expected to increase in turn. Effective and inexpensive interventions or preventive measures are necessary to attenuate the increased economic and social burden of dementia.
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after AD, and is the result of impaired blood supply to the brain, which damages brain tissue when oxygen and nutrients are cut off. There are a number of possible causes of VaD.
It is often the result of a number of small, focal cerebral infarcts (small strokes) that may go unnoticed individually, but have an additive detrimental effect as more and more small areas of the brain are destroyed by ischemic events; however, there are also a number of other causal subtypes of cerebrovascular disease.
Long-term research studies have demonstrated that high blood pressure in mid-life is a key factor that can increase your risk of developing dementia in later life, particularly vascular dementia. These findings highlight that a lifelong approach to good health as the best way to lower your risk of dementia.
According to the World Alzheimer Report 2014, multiple studies following large groups of people for 15-40 years have demonstrated that individuals who had high blood pressure in mid-life (usually characterized as people who are around 40-64 years of age) were more likely to develop vascular dementia in later life.
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. It is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, which starves brain cells of oxygen and nutrients they need to function correctly. The association between high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease is currently unclear.
This risk factor can be decreased by getting your blood pressure within normal range. We have already demonstrated how simple breathing exercises and meditations can help lower your blood pressure and stress. They also help reduce anxiety and stress. Stress being another risk factor for onset VaD or vascular dementia.
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RESPeRATE lowers blood pressure by relaxing constricted blood vessels which cause high blood pressure. RESPeRATE does so by harnessing the therapeutic power of slow-paced breathing with prolonged exhalation in a way that is virtually impossible to achieve on your own. All you have to do is breathe along with RESPeRATE’s guiding tones.
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