Conscious connected breathing is the gateway to the nervous system. Your central nervous system is comprised of the brain and the spinal cord. The CNS receives sensory information from the NS and controls bodily responses.
The Autonomic NS divides into 2 branches –
- Sympathetic (associated with ‘Fight or Flight’)
- Parasympathetic (associated with rest and digestion)
Poor breathing techniques contribute to the body becoming stuck in some level of the sympathetic NS response. Short term, this can be brilliant and beneficial. For example, in moments of physical crisis, the sympathetic NS equips the body with tools to potentially survive a potentially life-threatening event (i.e., being mugged or running from a wild animal).
However, remaining stuck in the sympathetic NS response in the long term eventually leads the body to stutter and falter. Of course, modern life no longer means we often have to run from a life-threatening animal or situation, but instead we are accessing this mode of sympathetic response in a much slower but constant way through stress and bad stress management. This could be relationship or work stress, trying to keep on top of 100s of emails, social media anxiety, social identity anxiety, and more.
These stresses often become chronic and this is where the body/mind is not regulating your stress response well and instead, deepening and causing issues in the body. Did you know that how well or how badly you breathe can either support your NS or support further negative stress responses in the body?
With practice, our breathing patterns can help to soothe and de-escalate the issues arising from a system stuck in a sympathetic response mode and in some cases do even more than that, by supporting the parasympathetic NS to achieve a more relaxed and efficient level of functioning.
The benefits of a personally designed breathing practice has confirmed and studied benefits for various functions of the mind/body/spirit, including:
- Anxiety reduction
- Mood disorders
- Sleep and snoring problems
- Increased energy and athletic performance
- Blood pressure and stress management
- Improved skin and hair quality
- Better digestion