Slow breathing is so good that numerous comprehensive clinical researches pinpoint its healthy benefits.
What has the modern science identified as the physiological impact of this breathing technique?
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I am passionate about reading holistic medicine literature and ways to connect the ancient knowledge of health to attain longevity.
Slow breathing benefits
- Relaxation via parasympathetic response: Dr. Fred Muench says, “Once you go below 10 breaths a minute you start to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body relax when it has been injured. Slow breathing activates the vagus nerve, the primary cranial nerve, which is associated with a recuperative state.”
- Enhanced ventilation efficiency & arterial oxygenation: Slow respiration at 6 breaths per minute was found to be optimal for improving alveolar ventilation and reducing dead space (oxygen that doesn’t reach the alveoli properly)
- Minimization & synchronization of cardiac work (harmonized pulse with heart rhythm): This is covered in the literature below!
- Buffering of blood pressure fluctuations
- MORE will be revealed below…
Slow breathing: Quoted from holistic medicine literature
The excerpt comes from the same doctor who shared his insight on lifespan (can we live longer than what we are “genetically” programmed to be?). I’ve included a short bio of him on that post so I’ll skip to the quote.
性急脉亦急 Those who have a hasty personality also have hasty pulse 性緩脉亦緩 Those who have a relaxed personality also have relaxed pulse 大抵脉緩而遲者多壽 For the most part, those with relaxed and slow pulse live long 脉急而數者多夭 Those with hasty and frequent pulse die early
This man unequivocally states that our personality can affect how we breathe! Is he stretching too far though?
Well, can you imagine a slow-breather who’s nervous? anxious? angry?
According to this research, the psychological/behavioral results related to slow breathing techniques are increased comfort, relaxation, pleasantness, vigor, alertness, and REDUCED symptoms of arousal, anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion.
Modern science is confirming what the doctor was observing centuries ago.
In fact, the research is telling us that those who are transitioning to slow breathing can facilitate the development of chill, easy-going personalities that enable us to live longer.
先哲論, Ancient sages explained that, 江海之潮, Tides of river and sea 則天地之呼吸, Follow the breathing of the universe and the Earth 晝夜只 Through day and night 二升二降而已 They only breathe in and out twice each time (low & high tides) 人之呼吸晝夜 Human beings breathe through day and night 一萬三千五百息. 13,500 breaths 故天地之壽 Therefore, the lifespan of the universe and the Earth 攸久而無窮 Are long and infinite
This is a timeless analogy comparing the tides to our breathing.
Modern science ALSO uses the symbol of tides to describe respiration:
- Tidal breathing is a synonym for breathing at rest
- Tidal volume is the lung’s capacity to process air during tidal breathing
Low tides and high tides each occur twice during the day. This is what he likened to the Earth’s respiration (inhaling and exhaling the moon’s gravitational energy).
It’s such a neat connection of the two sciences that I’ll have to add another comment: The Earth is considered to be Yin, and so is the moon! It’s the microcosm-macrocosm connection, baby!
And let’s address the 13,500 breaths. This is equal to 9.375 breaths per minute, which he mentions as the average human respiratory rate. Go ahead and compare your breathing to this.
I’m now inspired (no pun intended) to be more aware of my breath and take it ~sloooow~
Let’s all breathe slower and change our LIVES!
Thank you for reading,
eternal student of life