Hello there my beautiful people today I’d like to talk a little more in depth about what goes on each time you take a breath. The things which can make your breathing less and more efficient are important to be aware of so that when you do conscious breathing you can be super effective.
First off air wills always flow from high pressure to low pressure. This is the basis of our breathing apparatus. When we inhale we are lowering the pressure in our chest cavity and when we exhale we are raising the pressure in our chest cavity. Once the pressure in our chest cavity is lower than the air pressure then air from the atmosphere will flow into our lungs. We exhale when the air pressure in our chest cavity is higher than the atmosphere and air flows out of our lungs and back into the atmosphere.
The main muscle which allows for this change in pressure is the diaphragm which is a domed shape muscle at the top of our abdomen. When we inhale properly the center of the diaphragm will drop down causing our belly to come forward and the sides will raise slightly upward expanding our ribcage outward.
Another key player is the intercostals, a muscle group which are attached in-between our ribs and assist in expanding the ribcage, especially upward, allowing for a fuller breath.
Accessory muscles refers to additional muscle groups which can assist breathing. Two main accessory respiratory muscles are the sternocleidomastoid and scalenes both of which attach the neck to the upper body and will assist lifting the ribcage. Now remember any way to increase the space inside the thoracic cavity will assist in breathing so just to get the idea here is a long list of additional accessory muscles:
serratus anterior, pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, iliocostalis lumborum, quadratus lumborum, serratus posterior superior, serratus posterior inferior, levatores costarum, transversus thoracis
There you can see that most muscles in the body can be used as accessory muscles to breathing. That said, taking the most oxygen from your inhale will mean expanding your ribcage forwards, backwards, to both sides and stretching your spine (head up and tailbone down). Also your diaphragm will drop down causing your belly to distend. Practice the breathing exercise with all of these things in mind each time you inhale and with each exhale simply relax and allow yourself to rebound. Learning to do this rhythmically with good energy efficiency will allow you to get oxygen deeply into your tissue as well as exhale a great deal of carbon dioxide from your blood. The result of the decreased Co2 levels is a temporary increase in blood pH which has several interesting effects, subjectively as well as scientifically.
One major notable change is that when the blood pH increases above 7.6 there the pain signal is significantly muted. This is due to the receptors mediating pain called acid sensing ion channels. They operate off a process called trimerization which means the synthesis of three proteins. The trimerization turns into monomerization where only one of these proteins is active, essentially the pain signal falls apart. This allows us to stretch more easily as well as interact with cold without the same degree of discomfort.
Once the pH is raised in this way we, our tissue is saturated with oxygen and our carbon dioxide levels are low, we will be able to stop breathing for 1-3 minutes after an exhale. Since the relaxation response occurs on the exhale, our body can now spend much more time there.
After 1:30 seconds of retention after exhalation the blood oxygen will drop very low (sometimes to %30 on a pulse oximeter) causing the brain stem to react by producing adrenaline among other hormones. Again since the pH value is regulated, the tissue is still fine, only the blood oxygen is low. This activation of the brain stem consciously and repetitively will begin to create pathways between the Neocortex and Brain Stem allowing for a greater degree of control over autonomic functions as well as stress. Check out the full interview I’m summarizing below.
As always thanks for reading, happy training and Breathe On!