Updated: May 4
There are virtually hundreds of different breathing exercises with different purposes and outcomes.
However, there is a simple, foundational breathing exercise that you can do
each day to help your brain work better. This is particularly helpful for people that are not getting enough oxygen to their brains.
Decreased oxygen levels have a serious impact on the brain. When we breathe normally, we typically inhale and exhale at a 1 to 1 ratio; meaning, for every second we breathe in, we breathe out for a count of 1 (e.g. 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out). When this happens we’re not really holding the air in our lungs for a significant length of time. This means there isn’t sufficient transfer of air to oxygen in the lungs, which limits the amount of oxygen in our bloodstream available to the brain.
During this breathing exercise, you breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. When doing this make sure you’re sitting comfortably, or you could even be lying on your back. Don’t slouch, as you won’t be able to take in the maximum volume of air. You want to be able to feel your abdomen rise and fall.
The rate of breathing for this exercise happens at a 1 to 2 ratio. When you inhale, that breath going in should take around 4 to 5 seconds. Don’t hold your breath. Tighten your lips a little bit as you breathe out, which will slow it down to take about twice as long, or 8 to 10 seconds.
You could time this with a stopwatch or do it roughly by keeping track in your own mind. The key is to make sure that you’re breathing out longer than you’re breathing in. This exercise can increase oxygen levels in the bloodstream within 30 seconds to a minute after beginning.
You can do this exercise throughout the course of the day. Each time try to do ten breaths. As you do this you will start to effectively train the brain to take in that breath, and retain it a little longer as you breathe out. This improves oxygen levels far better than just breathing to breathe.
Breathing is something we need to do, so it’s something that we should do well. This is particularly important at certain times of the day when the brain might be lacking from an energy standpoint. This exercise can help raise your energy levels without having to resort to sugar, caffeine, or some other type of stimulant.
It’s important to reinforce that in this particular exercise you don’t actually hold your breath! In fact, there might be some instances where someone has a medical problem where holding their breath could cause them to pass out. This exercise is about breathing in and immediately out. As your breathing becomes more efficient you can begin to explore more advanced breathing techniques.
Contributor Author: Dr. Michael Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Founder of APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC. For additional information, and to learn more, please visit our Author's page.
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