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The Scientific Health Benefits Of Controlled Breathing

Michelle Blair

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

According to ancient yogic texts, our vital life force —our Prana or our breath — derives from Pranayama, the practice of controlled breathing. Science is finally starting to catch up to the knowledge outlined in the Vedas, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and other ancient texts.

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Meditation has been practiced for the past 5,000 years on Earth, yet science is only now starting to recognize and understand the significant health benefits it has on the human body. These benefits can be observed while meditating and can be seen during the day-to-day lives of regular meditators as well.

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The Importance of Regulating the Breath

The average individual takes approximately 20,000 breaths daily, but how many of those do we consciously think about? The beauty of the breath is that it can be a voluntary or involuntary process — if we didn’t think about breathing, it would still happen, but when we do think about it, we can decide what to do with it. You can consciously choose to slow your breathing, for example, or to engage in techniques that control your breathing, which then affect your involuntary breathing process.

Your breath is responsible for supplying your body with oxygen; it is literally your life source. You cannot survive without it. However, it can do so much more than that! Your breath can aid your digestion, your brain, your cellular health, your immune system, and so much more. You can capitalize on these incredible benefits of controlled breathing through meditation or simply by changing your breathing technique.

Many people assume “breathing is breathing,” but you can actually breathe using different patterns  that will directly affect your overall health. There is a significant amount of research that suggests that regular breathing through the mouth isn’t ideal and we should breathe through our noses instead.

Please note that numerous short-term meditation and breathing techniques through the mouth are excellent for our health. These include the Wim Hof method and Transformational Breath, a technique I learned recently at Rythmia in Costa Rica. However, breathing through your mouth at all times is not recommended.

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The following video featuring Patrick McKeown, one of the top teachers of the Buteyko Method, discusses the potential negative affects of mouth breathing and dysfunctional breathing methods associated with asthma, rhinitis, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

Controlled Breathing Induces a “Relaxation Response”

Herbert Benson, M.D. Harvard Medical School, wrote a book titled Relaxation Response in which he discussed numerous medical studies on the health benefits of meditation. The Relaxation Response is basically the opposite of the “fight or flight” response and can be described as a deep relaxation that engages the parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as meditation.

According to Dr. Benson, the Relaxation Response can counteract the physiological changes of stress and the fight or flight response, including muscle tension, headache, upset stomach, racing heartbeat, and shallow breathing. If the body reacts with the fight or flight response or any other stress response too often — and chronic stress like this is endemic to modern society — the body secretes high levels of stress hormones, which can produce a wide range of stress-related health issues such as cardiovascular disease, GI diseases, adrenal fatigue, and more.

To combat stress and induce the Relaxation Response, you can engage in progressive muscle relaxation, energy healing, acupuncture, massage, breathing techniques, prayer, meditation, tai chi, qi gong, visualizations, and/or yoga.

A Harvard study found that meditation can mitigate symptoms of Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) and improve gut health. The study showed that by inducing the Relaxation Response, participants showed reduced symptoms of IBS as well as decreased anxiety and overall better quality of life.

Meditation Improves Cellular Health, Brain Function, and More

A study performed at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing compared a group of meditators to a group of non-meditators and found that meditating can have long-term benefits, including improved mental health and cellular health. You can read more about this in another CE article here.

Another study showed that meditation and controlled breathing can protect and lengthen telomeres, which are located on the ends of chromosomes. If your chromosomes are healthy, your cells are healthy as well, further proving that meditation can aid cellular health. You can read more about this and how meditation can decrease your risk of cancer here.

study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s grey matter, which is associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Participants practiced, on average, 27 minutes of mindfulness exercises daily and experienced significant improvements after only two months. This is one of the first studies to prove that meditation can actually change the brain.

In addition to physiological changes, meditation can also provoke emotional and psychological changes as well. This study proved that experienced meditators produce increased levels of melatonin. The meditators were studied after participating in either Transcendental Meditation-Sidhi or yoga, which were both found to help increase melatonin.

According to Ellen L. Idler, Ph.D., Professor at Emory College, those who practice spiritual modalities including meditation are more likely to make positive and healthy choices. Idler goes on to explain that through meditation, we can decrease chronic stress and the potential for disease.

Final Thoughts

Meditation, controlled breathing techniques, and other mindfulness exercises have played a significant role in my life. I have personally experienced many of the health benefits mentioned above and I would strongly encourage you to give meditation and controlled breathing a try!

The beauty of Pranayama is that you’re practicing it all of the time. The breath is your life force, your sustenance; what better way to thank your breath than to train your body to breathe optimally?

 

 

 

 

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3 Powerful Tools to Help Overcome the Emotional Toll of the Pandemic

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The pandemic has had a significant effect on our lives. Possibly without realizing it, many are suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • Reflect On:

    If you feel stressed or feel that you have PTSD resulting from this pandemic, try these suggestions before resorting to medication or maladaptive coping strategies.

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

The pandemic has had a significant effect on our lives. Possibly without realizing it, many are suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Every news cycle paralyzes us with fear of a new variant. Some feel grief over who or what they have lost or continue to have feelings of social disconnectedness. Despite what we have all been through, we need to start moving forward with our lives and truly live again. We must recognize that we have more control over our physical and mental health than advertised. The truth is that there are many helpful things that we can do.

PTSD is a stress-related disorder that may develop after exposure to a traumatic event or ordeal in which death or severe physical harm was a threat or occurred. Those with PTSD may experience agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, social isolation, flashbacks, fear, anxiety, depression, attention difficulty, loneliness, insomnia, or nightmares.

Trauma can lead to feelings of powerlessness, but powerlessness can also keep us trapped in a PTSD cycle. The psychological imprint of trauma rewires the brain. There’s an old saying in neuroscience: “neurons that fire together wire together.” Our brain neurons begin firing in the amygdala, the emotional part of our brains, during a traumatic event. People can get stuck in an emotional loop, and the rational voice in their heads does not weigh in. This looping can cause a person to respond disproportionately to stress – freezing, panicking, or acting out in anger. Some dissociate or enter a trance-like state. Maladaptive coping skills can sometimes develop. Cutting, burning, overeating, drinking, drugs, overspending, etc., is all an attempt to dampen our painful emotional feelings. So, to avoid getting stuck in a PTSD cycle, we must act and take our power back.

Time to seek out the most effective help so that we can feel calm and in control again. What can we do?

1. Boost Your Immune System

If you fear getting sick, it’s time to live a healthier lifestyle and boost your immune system. Sadly, we are taught (with the help of pharmaceutical dollars) that health comes from a needle or a pill. Our “experts” recommend masks, hand-washing, social distancing, and mRNA vaccines. Still, they seldom suggest a healthy diet, supplements, and other natural remedies to help improve our health and support the body to fight off illness and disease. Click here for my article that includes 16 Tips on Boosting Immunity.

2. Embrace Spirituality

Over the last 20 years, I have been honored to have worked with many great therapists, healers, spiritual leaders, and trauma survivors to witness the power of Spirituality in healing. Spirituality is an inner belief system providing an individual with meaning and purpose in life. Whether it involves a higher power, nature, religious rituals, meditation, mindfulness, or prayer, the premise is to stay connected to the core of who we are. That place of stillness within us holding the memory of wholeness, peace, inner strength, and balance – despite what has happened. A spiritual philosophy or practice can provide us with a bigger context for our experiences and clarify our purpose. Spiritual methods also connect us with a sense of community and support. Finding our tribe is essential in the face of trauma and loss. The spiritual journey often allows us to go inside ourselves and listen to our inner guidance and “knowingness.” The inner voice may know, for instance, that the virus will not hurt us, or what we are being told by the media is untrue. Spirituality also helps us shift our perspective from “why me” to “what can I do about it. It brings us a sense of power and control.

3. Guided Imagery & Bilateral Stimulation

Both tools are essential for the trauma therapy toolbox. They are noninvasive and helpful for overcoming the effects of trauma. Guided imagery can help us alter the negative or stressful pictures and thoughts in our minds and help us create new, more peaceful ones—a form of instilling positive affirmations. Before you read on, I thought you might like to download my 10-minute exercise. This science-based, comprehensive video will help you to cultivate a sense of inner peace and give you a way to help overcome the effects of this pandemic – GET IT HERE

Is There Science Behind This?

Science, yes. Magic, no. This method requires regular practice if you want to make lasting, long-term changes to the ways that you think and feel. The good news is that both guided imagery and bilateral stimulation are widely practiced and well-established practices. However, I recommend that if you are still struggling after repeated listening, you find a qualified trauma therapist to continue the work you have already started.

A Look At The Research

Guided imagery is a behavioral technique using a series of verbal suggestions to guide oneself or others in visualizing an image in the mind to bring a desired response in the way of a reduction in stress, anxiety, or pain. A growing list of empirical literature supports the use of these techniques in various physical and emotional conditions. Guided imagery resulted in a clinically significant reduction in PTSD and related symptoms in a returning, combat-exposed active-duty military population. Positive affirmations can positively affect the brain’s circuitry. There is MRI evidence suggesting that specific neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks.

Numerous research articles have established that bilateral stimulation is one of the most effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some therapists practice Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a combination of psychotherapy and bilateral stimulation. EMDR is very effective for treating a wide range of mental health issues due to emotional and physical trauma. During bilateral stimulation, patients tend to “process” the memory in a way that leads to a peaceful resolution. And, often results in increased insight regarding both previously disturbing events and long-held negative thoughts about the self.

“Bilateral Stimulation induces a fundamental change in brain circuitry, similar to what happens in REM sleep. It allows the person undergoing treatment to process and incorporate traumatic memories into general association networks in the brain. This therapy helps the individual integrate and understand the memories within the larger context of their life experience.” – Robert Stickgold, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

Takeaway

If you feel stressed or feel that you have PTSD resulting from this pandemic, try the above suggestions and download my helpful video before resorting to medication or maladaptive coping strategies. Also, you can discover the many mind-body practices you can do at home to help manage stress more successfully and so much more. SIGN UP HERE to receive your free download today. To purchase my book Healing Without Hurting, click here.

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Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

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Boosting Your Mood and Improving Your Health With Vitamin D

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Vitamin D is essential for proper immune functioning and alleviation of inflammation.

  • Reflect On:

    Are you or someone you love suffering from depression or an autoimmune disorder? When is the last time you checked your Vitamin D levels?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Are you or someone you love suffering from depression or an autoimmune disorder? It appears vitamin D deficiency may be to blame.

Vitamin D is essential for proper immune functioning and alleviation of inflammation. The beneficial effects of vitamin D on protective immunity are due in part to its impact on the innate immune system and has numerous effects on cells within the immune system. Vitamin D is also involved in maintaining the proper balance of several minerals in the body. And, it helps to ward off the flu and many viruses and treat them. The latest research links vitamin D deficiency to many disease states. These disease states include cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, arthritis, and just about every other degenerative disease.

 “Vitamin D reduces depression. In a randomized, double-blind study, People with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed a marked improvement in their symptoms.” – Journal of Internal Medicine

According to the Nutrition Research Journal, as many as 80% of people are deficient in vitamin D. Inadequate exposure to sunshine, poor eating habits, malabsorption, the VDR genetic mutation, and accelerated catabolism due to certain medications, dark skin pigment color, and too much sunscreen can be to blame. 

A doctor can check vitamin D levels with a simple blood test. Many mainstream doctors will suggest that you are within normal limits if your levels are 20-30ng/mL. However, for optimal health, the Endocrine Society and many functional medicine M.D.s and naturopaths will recommend levels of between 40-70 ng/mL for both children and adults. These doctors will also recommend a more aggressive replenishment program. For example, at age five, my son’s level was 24. The pediatrician recommended 500iu daily of supplementation, while our naturopath recommended 5,000iu daily for six months before retesting. Six months later, his levels were almost normal. 

“Through several mechanisms, vitamin D can reduce risk of infections. Those mechanisms include inducing cathelicidins and defensins that can lower viral replication rates and reducing concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs, leading to pneumonia, as well as increasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines” – PubMed

How to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Get enough sun. Vitamin D3, “the sunshine vitamin,” is the only vitamin your body that is made, with the help of the sun. So be sure to get enough sun exposure to help the body make this essential nutrient. Hold off trying to protect ourselves from the rays of the sun at every turn by slathering sunscreen. Allow yourself to play outside, garden, and enjoy the rays in moderation.

If you must use some sunscreen, avoid chemical sunscreens made with toxic chemicals that cause thyroid dysfunction, endocrine disruption, allergies, organ toxicity, reproductive toxicity, skin cancer, development, brain, and metabolism problems. Shop for natural mineral-zinc-based certified products instead. When exposed to scorching climates or in the sun for extended periods, we use sunscreens by Babyganics, Badger, Babo Botanicals, and Goddess Garden products.

Eat a well-balanced diet, with foods higher in vitamin D. Although it is believed that we only get twenty percent from the foods we eat. Some foods higher in D include cod liver oil, fish, oysters, eggs, and mushrooms. 

Get checked for the VDR mutation. A blood test will determine if you have mutations in the vitamin D receptor. The consequence can be lower vitamin D levels and the inability to absorb vitamin calcium and many other minerals properly. According to a 2020 scientific report, supplementation of vitamin D can help improve VDR gene expression, so more supplementation may be necessary if you have this mutation.

“Something so simple. Vitamin D supplementation could improve the health status of millions and so becomes an elegant solution to many of our health problems today.” – Carol L. Wagner, MD – Medical University of South Carolina

Supplementation 101. Supplementation is often critical if you cannot properly metabolize or absorb enough vitamin D or not get enough sunshine. In areas with long winters and specific populations of people with darker skin color, supplementation may be even more critical. There are many supplements on the market. However, many tablet forms are not as bioavailable and harder to absorb. Therefore, it has been recommended that liquid forms are better. In addition, liquid D is often suspended in olive oil, which helps the vitamins to absorb more easily since it is fat soluble. One of my favorite brands is by Seeking Health. It does not contain any impurities or allergy-inducing ingredients. 

Final Thoughts

Boosting the immune system naturally works on your body’s innate wisdom. It supports the body to operate like a well-oiled machine, protects it from unwanted pathogens and disease, and helps ensure a healthy body and mind.

To receive more info on how you and your family can overcome ADHD, apraxia, anxiety, and more without medication SIGN UP HERE or purchase my book Healing without Hurting.

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Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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General

Are Lockdowns Affecting Children?

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CE Staff Writer 2 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    We spoke to activist and mother Stephanie Sibbio about her co-creation of an organization called 100 Million Moms which seeks to empower women to stand up against injustices.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we choosing virus mitigation methods that are short sighted and harmful over the long term? Are they more harmful than the virus itself?

Before you begin...

Coherent icon

Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

The potential downsides of lockdowns during pandemics have been explored quite a bit – and the truth is the scientific community is quite divided on whether it’s the right move. On one hand a case can be made for effectiveness of lockdowns, but at quite a cost, while on the other hand many have shown lockdowns to be ineffective in slowing spread. How a study is organized and conducted can also dramatically change results.

Interestingly a study in Nature showed that “less disruptive and costly NPIs can be as effective as more intrusive, drastic, ones (for example, a national lockdown).” This essentially states that governments could choose effective ways to mitigate virus spread effectively without inducing unwanted and long term side effects on society as a whole via lockdowns – regardless, lockdowns are still widely being used.

One question we might have is, what about factors that are not so easy to measure right away? Things like long term psychological damage of being constantly stressed, out of touch with community and friends, and confined to our homes. What affects are children experiencing in their development and learning? We may not know exactly for quite some time.

I felt inspired to speak to a mother who has not only be asking this question with regards to her child, but who has decided to do something to push back against government measures, like lockdowns, that many citizens and scientist don’t agree with.

Along with another activist, Stephanie Sibbio created a movement called 100 Million Moms who, as their Instagram states, are a rights-based movement empowering moms all over the world to stand up against injustice. We advocate for natural health & medical freedom.

I spoke to Stephanie about how she has seen lockdowns affecting children, and her story in co-creating 100 Million Moms. In this discussion you will learn how you can get involved as well.

Further Discussion

A large meta analysis on mask wearing has shown that children are having physiological issues and learning challenges with prolonged mask wearing.

A group of doctors did a panel worth considering that discusses the potential harms of lockdowns and the science that supports the idea.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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