Powerful Breathing Techniques

For millennia, numerous traditions have used a wide variety of Breathing Techniques to increase awareness, harmonize energies and heal the body. 

Unless given direct guidance in the context of a structured methodology, most every person goes through life relying simply on the autonomic actions that allow us to unconsciously breathe even in the deepest of sleep. 

Remarkably, among all of the many autonomic functions such heart rate, blood pressure and intestinal peristalsis, breathing is the only such unconscious action that can also be consciously controlled by any person.

Outside of classical yogic techniques, specific breathing techniques have been most commonly used in sports and athletics. 

Knowing how and when to engage consciously in structured breathing is recognized as being essential in many physical and mental athletic activities.

The remarkable international explosion in yoga practices at a popular level has introduced traditional “pranayama” breathing techniques to new yoga enthusiasts worldwide. 

The deeper appreciations of yoga techniques go far beyond simple stretches and a “firm butt”. 

In truth, many recognized yogic styles claim that when accompanied by conscious direction, the breathing “pranayama” elements are the real core of yoga.

Outside of yoga practices, structured breathing has gained surprising attention through the work of one man, Wim Hof. 

His stunning physical feats of endurance and control have yielded both the prominence and proof to convince many people in the biohacker communities to enthusiastically study and train in the Wim Hof breathing methods. 

Interestingly, much of what constitutes his personal insights are directly related to a well-developed traditional Tibetan yogic technique known as Tummo (by various spellings). 

Such techniques are not for the faint hearted (quite literally) and require serious guidance and dedicated progressive practice.

To appreciate any breathing technique, it is crucial to understand that breathing is a whole-body dynamic and is most certainly not limited to the lungs and airways.

The entire body resonates with each rhythmical motion in our breath.  Breathing is not just limited to air because each breath stimulates the electromagnetic field especially in the torso which is continual communication with the entire spine and brain. 

Your breathing rhythms and rates set the harmonic rhythms for your entire body.

Our brain frequencies are closely coupled with the air and energy flows of our nasal nostrils.  The flow in the left nostril and the right nostril are dynamic and this autonomic process is regulated by the sympathetic and parasympathetic aspects of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).

Have you ever noticed that sometimes one of your nostrils seems to be more open than the other one?

This may be especially evident if you sleep on your side or perhaps if you have a cold.

Tracking the EEG activities of the brain shows that frequency amplitudes of one side hemisphere in our brain corresponds to the opposite side nostril. 

When amplitudes increase in the left hemisphere, for example, these increases correspond to the right nostril. 

In certain structured breathing techniques, the air flow is directed to one or the other nostril in set patterns and periods. 

When the air flow is restricted to one nostril, the opposite brain hemisphere will demonstrate an increase in brain frequency amplitudes. 

The most “famous” nasal breathing technique is the Nine Breath Cleansing used in both Tibetan and Hindu yogas.

“Ultradian” refers to rhythms that are longer than one hour but shorter than one day.  Research demonstrates that our brain left and right hemispheres have “ultradian” cerebral cortical activity during sleep relating REM and non-REM sleep stages. 

It is fascinating to understand that during our waking hours, the right and left nostrils exhibit “ultradian” rhythms that shift dominance from one nostril to the other nostril about once every 2 to 3 hours naturally. 

Ancient yogic literature describes this rhythm as being in resonance with planetary, solar and cosmic cycles.

Scientific studies focusing on blood and the nasal cycle comparing plasma levels in the venous circulation demonstrate alternating levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine on the two sides of the body with the rhythm of the sympathetic activity in the nose. 

Also, when breathing is directed into the right nostril, research shows increased verbal task performance (left hemisphere) and when directed into the left nostril there is increased spatial task performance (right hemisphere).

In general, brain-based neuroplastic change methods work better when some form of structured or guided breathing technique is integrated into the experience.  In the neuroVIZR light/sound Brain Stimulation sessions, there is an option to introduce certain Guided Breathing techniques to automatically follow the Brain Engagement experience. 

These techniques are simple and effective and require nothing more than to follow the ascending (inhalation) and descending (exhalation) tones heard through your headphones. 

If the technique has a pause element, the pitch of the sound tones stay steady.

  1. Harmony Breathing is a super simple 5 second inhale and 5 second exhale with no pauses in between.  This Guided Breathing technique corresponds to the basic Heart Rate Variability (HRV) principle and is also known as Coherent Breathing or Resonant Breathing.
  2. Balance Breathing is sometimes called Box Breathing because of the symmetry of the cycle timing.  Here the pattern is 5 seconds inhale, 5 second pause, 5 seconds exhale, 5 second pause.  Balance Breathing is a little more demanding than Harmony Breathing.  Do not force it and it feels a bit too much or uncomfortable, return to the Harmony Breathing instead for a while.  Both are effective so choose the one that feels most attractive.
  3. Anxiety Breathing helps to reduce the anxious feeling and is done in shorter 5-minute sessions.  The pattern seems a bit odd in the beginning but it is structured to dial down the sympathetic nervous activity and shift over to relaxing parasympathetic.  It goes – 4 second inhale, 7 second pause, 8 second exhale, 2 second pause.
  4. Sleep Breathing is exactly the same pattern as Anxiety Breathing but is done for 10 minutes instead of 5 minutes.

Change your breathing to change your mind. 

Give it a try.