The warrior breaths 4-6 breaths per minute. – Mark Divine (Navy Seal Commander)
Warriors have always recognized the importance of breathing right. From U.S Navy Seals to ancient Japanese Samurai, they all practiced breathing. Most men fail to breathe correctly and therefore miss out on a tremendous source of power.
The truth is that most people are in a constant state of low-level “fight-or-flight” response. Fight-or-flight doesn’t only happen in extreme situations involving life or death. Fight-or-flight happens in seemingly trivial situations such as: waiting in traffic, arguing with a family member, being late for work, etc.
Why? Because your brain can’t tell the difference between the stress associated with coming late to work and the stress associated with running away from a tiger.
In today’s fast-paced world, research shows that people report being stressed quite often. On top of that, most people are “shallow breathers”. Shallow breathing is when you only breathe into the upper part of your lungs.
Shallow breathing is often caused by poor posture, stress, and conditioning. Infants actually breathe deeply using their diaphragm. However, as they grow older they slowly lose touch with their natural way of breathing and take on a more erratic pattern of breathing instead.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
In order to truly understand why you should start breathing correctly,
Here’s some science:
Your body has what’s called an “Autonomic Nervous System”.
The autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, and the enteric nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system functions like a gas pedal in a car. It triggers the fight-or-flight response, providing the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers.
The parasympathetic nervous system acts like a brake. It promotes the “rest and digest” response that calms the body down after the danger has passed.
The enteric nervous system ,sometimes called the brain in the gut, also plays a role in how the body responds to stress. This system regulates digestive activity. The body experiences intestinal distress when faced with stressful situations. This can manifest in digestive disorders such as colitis and irritable bowel syndrome stem from this system.
The enteric nervous system and sympathetic nervous system are linked. So every time you go through stress, you are stimulating these two components of your nervous system which have some pretty shitty long-term consequences:
Elevated adrenaline causes damaged blood vessels and arteries, increases in blood pressure and a higher risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Elevated cortisol levels inadvertently contribute to the buildup of fat tissue and to weight gain. For example, cortisol increases appetite, so that people will want to eat more to obtain extra energy. It also increases storage of unused nutrients as fat.
Most people don’t know how to put an end to their stress so elevated cortisol and adrenaline become their norm. And if you look at today’s disease rates, then you’ll see that most of it comes from high-blood pressure and other heart-related complications.
This Is Where Learning How To Breathe Comes In:
The parasympathetic nervous system is your friend when it comes to relaxation. It works in conjunction with the sympathetic nervous system and the enteric nervous system, triggering the body to secrete hormones to decrease blood pressure and heart rate, inducing a relaxation response. Breathing deeply and mindfully helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to trigger this relaxation response.
Breathing does much, much, more for you than just induce a relaxation response. It also detoxifies your body. Your body gets rid of something like 70% of toxins through breathing. When you exhale, carbon monoxide comes out carrying toxins. When you’re not breathing properly, you often unwittingly withhold these toxins in your body.
In order to learn how to breathe right, you need to learn how to use the entirety of your lungs. There are many ways to learn how to breathe right. One of my favorite ways for learning better breathing is by doing breathing techniques from a phone app called Pranayama. It’s really simple and straightforward. You just follow the directions for the inhales, holds and exhales.
There is even a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level. I suggest you get the paid version since it allows you to have more options. However, get the free version to try it out.
Click this link for a breathing exercise you can do right here and now. It’s called “tactical breathing” because soldiers use it in stressful situations in order to gain control of their state. I suggest you try it out for a minute or two right now.
My life has changed dramatically ever since I’ve learned the power of breath. Now instead of being a shallow breather, I constantly breathe deeply and fully. This results in a feeling of calm control over my body and mind. “Relaxed control and power” is the best way to describe it. What are you waiting for? Master your breath and master your life.