How to Breathe – 2016 Health Tip Part 2

May 25, 2016
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As you saw in my previous article , breathing can help improve the tone of the Vagus Nerve. This has been linked to reduced stress and anxiety levels, reduced heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and even reduced risk of dying from cancer.

A 2016 article talked more about the link between stress and cancer, saying that stress acts as a ‘fertiliser’ by increasing the number of lymphatic vessels draining from the tumour, but increase flow in existing vessels. “So not only do you get new freeways out of the tumour but the speed limit is increased and so the tumour cells can flow out of the tumour much more rapidly,”

So the real question is, how do we improve the tone of this nerve, so that we can reap these health benefits?

The easiest way is to slow down and take a deep breath. You see athletes, and other people for that matter, do this when they are in a stressful situation. Taking a deep breath can affect the tone of the Vagus Nerve such that your heart rate and blood pressure both drop.

So anyone with high blood pressure (hypertension) should practice deep abdominal breathing. Studies on people who did slow abdominal breathing exercises showed that it led to decreases in blood pressure.

Here’s a basic protocol for deep abdominal breathing for you to practice each day – the more you do the better you will get.

We want to lower the rate of breathing to below 10 breaths per minute. To start with, breathe in for a count of 3 then out for a count of 3. This will get you 10 breaths per minute. But ideally you want to move to a count of 4 in, 4 out, and then to 5 seconds in and 5 out.

A 2013 study confirmed that having an equal breathing in phase and breathing phases (eg 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out) is the best method for people who are new to breathing techniques.

As you breathe in, try to focus on your abdomen expanding rather than your chest. If you put something on your abdomen while laying on your back (like a piece of paper), you should feel it elevate.

If you can set aside 10 minutes to practice this technique you will get the best results.

Other unusual ways to trick this nerve can be found in this article (“32 Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve”) including:

For a truly accurate assessment of your heart rate variability, you will need an ECG. It’s less accurate, but there is a way to assess it at home:

Healthy vagal tone is indicated by a slight increase of heart rate when you inhale, and a decrease of heart rate when you exhale”.

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