InfinitePotential

How To Breathe Properly And Oxygenate Your Body

28 posts in this topic

You are breathing too much.  Practically everyone in modern society is chronically mildly hyperventilating, due largely to being overly comfortable, sitting down all day, junk food, overeating, underactivity etc etc.  Optimizing your breathing is, in my opinion, the single most beneficial thing you can do to improve your health and well being (okay tied with meditation and relaxation).

Proper breathing is unfortunately overlooked in the health and fitness community, and of course in society at large.  On top of that, the breathing advice we DO get is often counterproductive.  For example "take deep breaths".  On the surface this may sound like good advice.... wouldn't bringing in a ton of air help oxygenate your body?  The answer is no.  It's counter-intuitive (like so many things in self-actualization), but breathing LESS oxygenates your body MORE.  I won't get too scientific but it has to do with the carbon dioxide in your body (see Bohr effect).  You actually do not breathe because you are hungry for oxygen, you breathe to get rid of carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide, though often demonized as a toxic byproduct of breathing, is required to transport oxygen into your cells and bloodstream.  Our goal is to increase your tolerance for carbon dioxide, so that more of this gas can stay in your body for longer, so that more oxygen can be transported into your bloodstream and cells.  And in general, more oxygenation = better health and well being.  To add just a little more science, you want to be breathing through your nose, because the air interacts with your sinuses to produce nitric oxide which further increases oxygenation.  (Increasing nitric oxide is another extremely worthwhile endeavor in addition to breathing properly).  Additionally, your nose warms the air and filters out impurities.

Proper Breathing

  • Inhaling and exhaling through the nose
  • Slow, gentle, calm, soft
  • Non-visible, quiet
  • No sighing, yawning, gasping, coughing, abrupt inhales or exhales, etc
  • Using the diaphragm ("horizontal" breathing, not "vertical")
  • Exhale is not forceful, rather it is simply a relaxation of the body
  • Slight pause after exhale
  • Rhythmic and regular
  • Less than you are currently breathing

Better advice than "take deep breaths" would be: relax your body and take softer, gentler breaths.  Think about it this way, what does a calm, healthy, fit individual breathe like at rest?  You wouldn't even notice their breathing.  Then, consider an overweight, unfit, anxious individual breathing at rest.  This person's breathing would likely be visible, perhaps you could hear it, they might even be breathing through the mouth sighing a lot etc.  Consider also when you are deep in meditation... with your body and mind as calm as can be, your breathing can almost become nonexistent. 

Ideally, you want to get your "control pause" as high as possible.  Your control pause is the amount of time you can comfortably hold your breath after exhaling.  To measure, sit upright, comfortably, relaxed, and breathe as normal for a few minutes.  Then, take a normal inhale, and normal exhale.  Hold your breath until the first inclination to breathe occurs.  The number of seconds between that exhale and inhale is your control pause.  Note, you should be able to resume breathing normally after measuring your control pause.  If you have to take a big gasp or feel out of breath, you have held your breath too long and improperly measured your control pause.  A good goal is to get your control pause over 20 seconds.  Even more is better.  Don't worry, I was at like 3-5 seconds when first starting.  Every few seconds you can increase to your control pause has a substantial influence of your health and well being.  I especially notice it in my mood, cognition, mental health etc.

Proper Breathing Exercise

  • There are many exercises, but the goal of most is to maintain a slight air hunger for some time.  Don't overdo this, you wouldn't try to bench 300 lbs your first day at the gym
  • Sit upright, completely relax your body
  • Gently, softly, slowly, inhale through the nose.  Inhale slightly less than you would naturally
  • Exhale through your nose by completely relaxing, especially your diaphragm and stomach
  • Wait a little bit longer to inhale than you would naturally
  • Continue for as long as you'd like.  This is a great way to meditate / start your meditation
  • Breathe in this manner while also doing physical activity like walking, running, lifting weights etc etc for SERIOUS health gains (try not to open your mouth!) (can't stress this bulletpoint enough)
  • You will know you are doing well when your extremities feel warmer, you are producing more saliva, and you feel calmer and more at peace

Other tips to oxygenate your body

  • Exercise
  • Walk, walk, walk
  • Don't sit too much
  • Eat oxygenating foods: Beets (MVP), spices like ginger turmeric cayenne etc, high nitrate vegetables like leafy greens (nitrates increase nitric oxide, beets have the most which is why they're MVP... In fact, I would wager that most of the benefits of eating plenty of vegetables comes from their nitrate content), raw cacao, cordyceps mushroom
  • Meditation and relaxation
  • Properly hydrate
  • Do not overeat or eat junk food
  • Look into fasting
  • Improve your sleep quality (may need to write a separate post on this sometime)
  • TAPE YOUR MOUTH SHUT AT NIGHT WHILE SLEEPING (maybe the single easiest yet most beneficial thing you can do for your health)

Some Resources

  • Patrick Mckeown's youtube videos and book "The Oxygen Advantage"
  • Research the "Buteyko Method"

 

Some Caveats

  • The goal is to make your unconscious breathing more in alignment with the above descriptions of proper breathing
  • I.e., breathing exercises where you DO hyperventilate can potentially have benefits as well (Wim Hoff method, shamanic breathing, etc), but chronically hyperventilating (which practically all of us do to some degree) is harmful, and in general breathing less throughout your day makes you healthier

 

 

 

"A perfect man breathes as if he is not breathing"  -Lao Tzu


“Curiosity killed the cat.”

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This helped me a lot! I woke up from having my mouth taped up, best sleep in weeks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Igor82 Yes!  Honestly I could have included a TLDR saying try taping your mouth shut while sleeping to see if that benefits you.  My sleep quality and energy throughout the day is much better doing so, I'll probably tape my mouth while sleeping for life.


“Curiosity killed the cat.”

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@InfinitePotential @Igor82  how do you guys go around taping your mouth? I just keep awaking with dry mouth even if I tape it. Bought a tape but it doesn't do much since I am still able to mouth breathe it seems. 

What type of tapes do you use? 


MY WEBSITE  I'm a certified nutritionist & health coach. I help men & women who struggle with chronic health problems, to remember what happy & healthy feels like. 

HEALTH E-BOOKS - learn how to boost your mental performance, energy and health (free download) 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Michael569 I use the following tape:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B003TXPZ64/ref=sxts_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1508767075&sr=1

You could probably find a better one that's thicker, but this completely works for me provided I sorta purse my lips together before taping. 

Also, to make it less sticky and not hurt to take off, I tape it to my hand for a while, remove it, and repeat a few times before taping it over my mouth. 


“Curiosity killed the cat.”

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

when I exhale, im not exhaling fully AT ALL if i dont use my abdominal muscles. the breaths are extremely shallow if i try to breathe horizontally. on top of that, what i breath with my chest, vertically, I can keep my body very relaxed and breathe deeply without using any abdominal muscles. it feels as though it's exactly the opposite for me. it's also not fulfilling to breathe from the belly, compared to the chest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 07/10/2017 at 0:46 PM, InfinitePotential said:

relax your body and take softer, gentler breaths

YES! Thank you!

 

11 hours ago, Ilya said:

it's also not fulfilling to breathe from the belly

That's because your chest has become like a dirty basement. Haha... When you get accustomed to breathing from the belly, you will go: "Holy shit! How come have I never used this area??"

 

To me, deep breaths helps me in the beginning of pranayamas to center myself. I usually take only 3 vigorous breaths. But then, as I practice the pranayama, the natural tendency is that the breath becomes more and more relaxed and calm. :)

 

Thank you for the post!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great posts. I'm interested in breath work. At the beginning I was fascinated special breathing techniques, but all of them emphasised deep breathing. I even practiced Wim Hoff breathing technique. One day I woke up and felt that all those techinques were unnatural. Small children don't breath counting till for example 5, etc. Moreover during Vipassana meditation, you don't force your breath but only watch. Then I found information about Buteyko and this is all what @InfinitePotential described above. Hopefully it works :-)

(PS) English it's not my native language, so I'm sorry for mistakes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good post OP. Solid points ?

Found the tape thing to be a bit weird doh.. 

 

F4714575-6DCA-4A31-9F68-005DA469A031.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@MellowEd The tape thing is legit and makes a world of difference in sleep quality and energy upon waking. I have done one day with tape and one without, back to back, and the difference is monumental. To the point where I won't be going back. I am a mouth taper for life.

51PPIt+W7BL._SY679_.jpg

I use tape that looks like this.

Personally, I think it is best to pair it with breathing exercises during the day.

Also skip it if you are sick, with a stuffy nose, and maybe if you have breathing problems while sleeping.


The kingdom of heaven is within.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any tips for "better" sleep? Sometimes I take baths, eat meat, fish before sleep. Its not that i have bad sleep or its uncomfortable, i feel neutral, calm but not relaxed?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Ether said:

Any tips for "better" sleep? Sometimes I take baths, eat meat, fish before sleep. Its not that i have bad sleep or its uncomfortable, i feel neutral, calm but not relaxed?

There's quite a handful of topics on sleep if you scroll few to several pages back in this section of the forum :)


B R E A T H E

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

very interesting, what are your thoughts on the Wim hof method?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Marvelous, yes!

Until one can comfortably breathe 3-4 full breaths per minute. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those heavy exercise situations of powerlifting/sprint/cycling etc. 

Take air like in martial arts, Open mouth with teeth closed and inhale through nose and teeth followed by exhaling of the nose only; do all this inhaling/exhaling deep in the coccyx/anus/talons. 

Using teeth one can take more oxygen into the bloodstream faster. 

Edited by Quanty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi.

To all of you that are taping your mouth to sleep: The other day I went to the otorinolaringologist and asked if it was cool if i taped my mouth to sleep. He said not to do it because if during the night you need to breath really deeply that can kind of choke you  .

I did it before asking to him. I report to you guys the same: it improves my sleeping.

Now  what i recommend you guys to do is : Do not tape your mouth completely, put the tape diagonally instead of horizontally. In that way you can breath through your mouth if you need to.

Also use micro-pore tape. They sell it at the pharmacies.

    

Edited by Arcangelo
h

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now