Struggling to focus during the day or relax at night??
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Thomas DeLauer breaks down his top 3 breathing exercises (and the science behind each) to bring your body back to the ideal parasympathetic Nervous System State on the latest #ScienceSaturday
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Transcript by Rev.com
- What's going on Jigsaw land. We all know that magnesium is a great way to relax, and a great way to bring yourself back to center. But, what if you can't have your Mag SRT handy for a minute? Well, the next best thing is to employ some different breathing techniques. So in this video, I'm gonna give you three different breathing techniques that you can utilize to bring your body back to center, bring your body to that parasympathetic nervous system state, so that you can relax, and you can focus on the task at hand. So let's get straight to the techniques, and not waste any time.
-But first and foremost, we have to understand that there are studies that have proven, in fact, even in the 2010 Nepal Medical Journal, it was proven that focusing on breathing, and focusing on different kinds of exhalation, you truly can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system that you need to be in, in order to function normally. To not be functioning in that fight or flight response. The sympathetic nervous system, is what activates when you're stressed out, or when you're truly just running on fear. Okay, so let's talk about how can get yourself into that parasympathetic nervous system.
-The first technique is called The Four Seven Eight Technique and it's the simplest out of all of these. Very very basic. Created by someone known as Dr. Andrew Weil, this technique is really really good for helping you get a little bit tired if you need to go to sleep. You ever have those nights where you just can't fall asleep? Or maybe you wake up in the middle of the night, and your brain is just wired? Well this is a perfect technique, very very simple. So, the whole idea with this technique, is you put your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and you put quite a bit of pressure there. What this does, is it activates a little bit of a neural response in your brain already. Okay, then you're gonna focus on breathing in through your nose, with an inhalation of four seconds. Then you're gonna hold for seven seconds. Then you're gonna exhale through your mouth while still keeping your tongue pressed up on the roof of your mouth, for eight seconds. Now, it sounds like some witch doctor stuff, right? But the truth is, by focusing on the exhalation, you truly are activating that parasympathetic nervous system.
-In fact a 2006 study, in the Journal of Medical Hypothesis found that Pranayamic breathing, which is where you focus on the exhalation, truly does help sync up the brain, the lungs, and the heart. So by doing this kind of breathing technique, and focusing on the exhalation, specifically, where the exhalation is double the length of the inhalation, in this case, four second inhalation, eight second exhalation, you are truly allowing the neurons to sync between your brain, your heart, and your lungs, which is, quite honestly, the definition of being grounded. It's like you are totally in balance. So that's what we want there, we want that synchronization.
-Now let's talk about the second method. You remember those cartoons when you were growing up, where you used to see someone get stressed out, and they'd rapidly breathe into a brown paper bag? We always kind of wondered, like, what are they doing? Are they hyperventilating, what's up there? Well the whole idea is, when we get stressed out, people think that we're not getting enough oxygen. They tend to think that you need to breathe more. But the reality is, when you're hyperventilating, you're going into a situation where you're stressed out, you're getting too much oxygen. So you're actually getting yourself kind of high on oxygen.
-You ever see those oxygen bars before? Well that's the whole idea there. People go to oxygen bars to try to get a little bit light-headed, and try to get sort of a high feeling from it. Well, when you get anxious, and you rapidly breathe, that's what's happening. So when you do a technique where you're trying to actually recycle CO2, like breathing into a brown paper bag, the idea is, you're trying to get more CO2. So by exhaling the CO2, and cupping your hands, or breathing into a brown paper bag, you are getting more of that CO2 coming back into your body, and it's balancing out the oxygen levels, so you're coming back to baseline. So you don't get that light-headedness. That is really really powerful. And it's something that we need to do when it comes down to balancing our stresses out. So, this is only a technique that you want to use if you're truly in a very very stressful situation. But, although it seems kind of cliche, because it's what we used to see on TV in the cartoons, it actually is very powerful.
-This third method is my personal favorite. And, a lot of you have probably heard of it before, but maybe you don't know, the actual intricacies of how to do it. It's called The Wim Hof Method. Now, Wim Hof is a very very interesting guy. I've studied him for a long time, because I've always been fascinated with his ability to connect the brain, the mind, and the body. Now, Wim Hoff has also been known as The Ice Man, and the reason is, he climbed Mount Everest, literally only wearing shoes and shorts. That's pretty insane. And then he went up and he ran a full marathon, above the Arctic Circle, in negative 20 degrees, also in shoes and shorts. And he claims that he can do this, because he can control his body by understanding the parasympathetic nervous system, and understanding the correlation between the brain, the heart, the body, and of course, the lungs.
-So this breathing technique has been used worldwide for all kinds of different instances, and I'm gonna share it with you. So here's what you do. The first thing that you're gonna do, is you're gonna get very comfortable. Very important that you're just in a super comfortable situation, sitting down, make sure you're in an area where you can totally relax for a minute, okay. Then you want to make sure you take your first initial breath, that is a very full deep breath, done in a belly-breathing fashion, okay. A lot of times when we take a deep breath, we tend to raise our ribcage. That's not fully breathing. That's elevating our rib cage. We need to breathe with our diaphragm.
-So a good rule of thumb is, if you put your hand on your chest, and you put another hand on your stomach, your chest shouldn't move when you belly breathe. You should breathe like that so that your chest isn't moving and your stomach is coming out. That truly means you're getting oxygen into the lower lobe of your lungs, which is shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system even more. Then, you wanna move into the power breaths.
-This is the trickiest part of the whole thing. These power breaths are 30 short belly breathes. So you're not going full, deep breaths, what you're trying to do is saturate your body with a bunch of oxygen. So, for instance, you wanna still belly breathe, so you wanna still be focusing on not moving your chest. Except you wanna breathe like that. So you're trying to do these power breaths where you're getting as deep of a breath as you possibly can, while still violently exhaling, as fully as you can. And you're doing this for 30 reps, so you're gonna be 30 repetitions of these deep breathes. But, you should be feeling a little bit light-headed by the end of it.
-Now, the next step is, while you are doing those, is to focus on scanning your body. And I know this sounds a little bit complex because when you're first starting this method, it's hard to count to 30 and focus on your breath, while also scanning your body, but once you do it three or four times, it makes perfect sense. The whole idea is to scan your body so that you actually feel oxygen flowing through your body, and you can feel where your body needs more energy, and where it needs less. It sounds totally wild, but it's all about connecting your mind and your body. And I'm gonna digress for one second when I say that if you can truly start to feel where you need more energy, and where you don't, it does help your workouts quite a bit too. Talk about that mind-muscle connection, right?
-So that's the idea there. Then, once you have finished the power breaths, and you're a little bit light-headed, you want to go ahead and you want to do a big hold. So you're gonna draw your air in, full deep breath again, through belly breathing, don't lift the chest, and then you're gonna exhale all the way, as much as you possibly can. So you're gonna really force an exhale, so that your stomach is really coming in. Once that exhale is all the way out, you're going to close your mouth, and you're going to make sure that you draw your chin back, so you lock in, so that you don't breathe in any more air. And you're gonna hold. It sounds extreme.
-You're gonna hold your breath with practically no air in you, for as long as you can. Some people are 10 seconds, some people are 45 seconds, some people are a minute, okay. And you want to wait until you get to that very distinct gasp reflex, to the point where, your body is just going to gasp for air. And this is where a little bit of control comes in. So then, once the gasp reflex comes in, don't gasp and elevate your ribcage, control the gasp, and do a full inhalation and hold again. Hold for five, 10 seconds, and then exhale and relax. And that is the technique. So it's very very complex. There's a lot of different moving pieces. And you're gonna have to do it a few times to practice. But, when you do it, you'll find that it truly is powerful.
Now let me reference some science so you know that this isn't just a load of craziness. A 2012 study that was published in the Psychosomatic Journal took a look at Wim Hof versus 112 other participants. Now what they did, is they injected everyone with a strain of E coli. You know what E coli is, right? Makes you very very sick, something we don't want. Well what they found, is while 112 participants ended up getting quite sick from E coli like you ordinarily would, Wim Hoff just got a small headache. Now, the interesting thing is, he employed his breathing techniques. And, when they ran some blood levels on him, they found that he had high levels of epinephrine in his bloodstream, significantly higher than the 112 other participants. And, they found that his immune system didn't really activate that much.
-What's crazy is that, it's your immune system that makes you feel sick a lot of times. Sure, the virus can make you feel sick, but it's usually the response of the immune system that makes you tired, lethargic, and ultimately feel sick, to trigger a response within your body. His body's immune system barely even activated. He had so much epinephrine, that it made him just roll through life like nothing ever happened. It quite honestly, made him super human. Epinephrine and adrenaline is what makes us super human.
-You ever hear of those stories of those guys that like, lift cars when they're in an emergency? When they have to like, pick a car off of somebody, or something like that? That's because adrenaline and epinephrine kicks in. Wim Hof was able to do that with his breathing technique and it was proven with science. And you know me, I don't say anything unless it's backed up by science. So you can always do these techniques. They're gonna come in handy no matter what.
-But if you truly need nature's chill pill, and you're ready to just relax, you might want to grab some Mag SRT, and make sure that you're getting your daily dose of magnesium, so that your body can function the way that it needs to. I will see you in the next Science Saturday.