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Better Breathing: Techniques for Optimizing Oxygen uptake & CO2 tolerance

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Better Breathing: Techniques for Optimizing Oxygen uptake & CO2 tolerance

Better Breathing for Health & Energy

Did you know that most people take between 17,000-24,000 breaths every single day? Have you ever wondered if you are breathing correctly? How about optimally? This is a hot topic in the holistic wellness field and something not commonly considered. Proper breathing and using oxygen efficiently are extremely important in optimizing your health and well-being, and here are a few things to consider:

How do you optimize Oxygen intake and utilization?

1.Training your diaphragm

Ideally, we are designed to breathe in through our noses with two-thirds of the inhalation occurring in the lower diaphragm and the final one-third filling up into the chest. Test yourself by putting one hand on the belly and the other hand on the chest. Take a breath and see which hand moves first. If your hand moves first in your chest region, then you will want to spend a few minutes each day (using your hands on both places) to practice filling your belly first and then allowing the breath to slowly rise up to the chest. Keep your breaths slow, steady and long.

Nasal (nose) inhalation and exhalation is also essential for optimal breathing for many reasons; one being the natural release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, although technically classified as a free radical, is a naturally occurring gas responsible for the dilation of blood vessels and the overall health of the circulatory system. Nitric Oxide allows more oxygen and enhance circulation to your cells with each breath. Nasal breathing also acts as an advanced filtration system, enhancing protection against airborne pathogens and viruses at their entry point.

2. Improving your tolerance to C02

The next area to consider is how well your brain and body can tolerate carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a waste product of exhalation, but in actuality is not wasteful at all. Having the proper ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen present in the lungs is the key to optimal breathing and allows more oxygen to be carried and released into the blood stream. When this ratio is off, the body's ability to carry oxygen to the blood is greatly decreased.

How do you determine your CO2 tolerance? This can be easily assessed with a Body Oxygen Level Test and a timer: Start by taking several (3-5) normal breaths in and out of your nose, then pinch your nose after your last exhale and use the timer to track how long it takes until you feel your first urge to breathe. When you feel an urge to breathe, release your hand from your nose, breathe in and out through your nose, and relax.

  • If you find that the urge to breathe occurred before 20 seconds that would indicate a severe intolerance to CO2 and inefficient breathing
  • If your breath hold was between 20-40 seconds that indicates you have a suboptimal but average tolerance to CO2
  • If you are able to refrain from breathing for 40-60 seconds this would indicate a very good tolerance to CO2 and optimal breathing function

Now that you have established your tolerance level for CO2 it is important to add a few easy training techniques to optimize your breathing and CO2 tolerance.

The first step to building your CO2 tolerance would be to take a few minutes every day where you shorten your inhalation and exhalation. You can perform this by breathing in and out of your nose very lightly. When done correctly you will feel you are short of breath and have an urge to take a deeper breath. Continue with the discomfort for several minutes, it will be worth your while. After 3-5 minutes of short breathing, you can end with a few deep breaths in and out of your nose to regulate back to a normal breathing pattern. This simple technique will train your brain to tolerate more CO2 and is an easy exercise toward developing optimal breathing.

Next you can simply repeat the breath hold you originally performed when establishing your Body Oxygen Level Test above. Pinch your nose after a normal exhale and wait to breathe until your first urge. The first urge to breathe will typically be indicated with the feeling of wanting to swallow. Once you feel the need to breathe, take your first breath in and out through the nose. You will take approximately 6 normal breaths in and out of your nose after the breath retention is complete. Perform another round of pinching your nose after an exhale. Repeat this cycle for 5-6 rounds gradually holding your breath a little longer into the area of slight discomfort but not too far where you would feel dizzy or lightheaded. Each progressive round will build the breathing muscle and increase your tolerance to CO2. This is also a great technique to clear nasal congestion. Due to the increased release of nitric oxide your nasal passages will begin to clear after 5 or 6 rounds.

These two simple techniques done each day for about 3-5 minutes will drastically increase the effectiveness of your breath, allowing your body to transfer more oxygen into your bloodstream and helping you to feel more energetic and less anxious throughout your day.

You can also add very light humming during your exhales for a few minutes each day. This will increase your production of nitric oxide by 10-15 times your normal rate.

If you suffer from anxiety or panic episodes throughout the day you can practice a very simple breathing technique that will re-calibrate your nervous system and instantly bring a feeling of calm to your body and mind. To perform this stress relieving breath simply take a deep breath in through your nose, followed by another short breath in through your nose before exhaling all the air out. You will want to exhale fully over 5-10 seconds. Repeat this technique 3-5 times to instantly reset your nervous system. This can be repeated as often as necessary and can be used before going into a stressful situation as well.

Breath is Life, and with some simple practices, you can be living and breathing at your PEAK.

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