The human body can go weeks without food, days without water, but only a few minutes without air. Breathing is one of the first signs we look for to see if someone is alive or dead. In many cultures the same word is used for breath as they use for spirit or “life force”, such as Chi or Prana. The subject of breathing is a vast and growing study, so we are only going to begin to scratch the surface on the topic in this post.
Dr. George Goodheart, a chiropractor considered to be the founder of Applied Kinesiology, created a holistic system for viewing his patients called the “Triad of Health”. I adopted this concept early on in my training, not that I was using Applied Kinesiology in any way, but almost as a checklist for addressing what holds back people from achieving their goals. Breathing affects all three sides of this Triad, having significant impact on our structure and function, as well as our cellular physiology and our mental state.
Breathing also is unique in that it is a way we can consciously affect our autonomic nervous system, which conversely by name implies that it is automatic and reflexive. The two sides of this system are the Sympathetic or “Fight or Flight” stress system and the Parasympathetic, which balances out the system by calming and restoring. It is this profound affect that allows deep breathing to be a highly impactful intervention for stress management. In the first part of our video series on breathing we tell the story behind “CTFO” and illustrate how to use breathing, specifically deep “belly breathing” to create a positive change not only mentally, but structurally as well:
In our next video in the series we discuss the mechanics of breathing, as well as one of my favorite strategies for deep breathing, incorporating the use of a long foam roller.
Now this 3-part series only focuses on one type of breathing, which is deep breathing with the goal of achieving the 3 Rs: Relax, Restore and Recover. This obviously does not translate to more vigorous activities such as lifting a heavy weight or throwing a punch. Depending on the activity, specific breathing strategies must be applied depending on the desired outcome. In the last part of the video series we discuss “Breath Matching”.
As stated at the onset of this article, this is just putting our toe in the water of the large sea of information available on breathing. Here are a few resources that I highly recommend to investigate more:
Screening and Assessing Breathing: A Multidimensional Approach
by Functional Movement Systems
In closing, we share the words of the great Wim Hof, who when asked in an interview with Tim Ferriss on his podcast, what would you write if you could have a billboard that you could put up that everyone in the world would see???