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Tuesday Tip: Breathing to Control Your Autoimmune and Autonomous Nervous Sytem

Outside Online posted an article speaking about breath control and how it can have many positive benefits. I have posted in the past with my experiences learned through the Unbeatable Mind Academy and Coach Mark Divine that I am a big believer of the benefits of deliberate breathing and breath control.

The article sites a study completed by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The big takeaway from the study:


Hitherto, both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system were regarded as systems that cannot be voluntarily influenced. The present study demonstrates that, through practicing techniques learned in a short-term training program, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced. Healthy volunteers practicing the learned techniques exhibited profound increases in the release of epinephrine, which in turn led to increased production of anti-inflammatory mediators and subsequent dampening of the proinflammatory cytokine response elicited by intravenous administration of bacterial endotoxin. This study could have important implications for the treatment of a variety of conditions associated with excessive or persistent inflammation, especially autoimmune diseases in which therapies that antagonize proinflammatory cytokines have shown great benefit.

Ok, so how do you do it?

I still regularly follow the “box breathing” method from the UMA. Exhale for a 5 count, hold for a 5 count, inhale for a 5 count, hold for a 5 count. Repeat this as many cycles as you wish. 3 cycles will be one minute. I recommend starting with 15 cycles and then building up to 30-40 cycles to receive the greatest benefit.

The Outside Online article offers a different quick start:

1. Lie on the ground or sit with your back straight.

2. Inhale deeply, pulling in as much air as you can using your diaphragm.

3. Exhale fully but not forcefully; simply let the breath go.

4. Repeat inhales and exhales for 30 to 40 rounds with your own rhythm.

5. On the last round, exhale and then hold your breath until your body feels the need to breathe.

6. Inhale deeply, then hold your breath for ten seconds.

7. Repeat steps 3–6 for three or four rounds.

8. After your final round, hop in a cold shower. On your first try, stay under the water for 30 seconds, then gradually increase until you reach three to five minutes.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

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