For me, lifting heavy weights three days a week fixed my posture, heart rate, and breathing issues. Back exercises like deadlifts and barbell rows were especially helpful for countering the tendency to hunch forward due to computer use. The endorphin release is also a great mood booster.
I say this because it makes me wonder about the causality. I’m not convinced breathing exercises by themselves do much good for physical health, but rather that good breathing habits are a consequence of overall good health.
Your intuition isn't bad but there is an emerging space of research amongst biomechanics and physiotherapists about how breathing is coupled to the nervous system.
You could argue that maybe anything that raises your breathing rate through exercise forcibly achieves the effect of getting those nerves firing but you also encounter breathing exercises as a therapy in quite a few avenues: yoga, wim hof, tantra, pilates, meditation, tai chi (to name a few)
There's probably some shared roots between some of the listed roots but I find it curious that the act of conscious breathing is encountered in so many different places and is now becoming a little more mainstream through mindfulness
Absolutely, I have studied this field for a while now and in some regards there are very modern aspects to it. The inquisitive and critical aspect of these philosophies kept it dynamic and weeded out practices that weren’t as effective.
Even in the 15th / 16th century there was a warning to stay away from fake gurus.
Shaolin legend has it it was a yogi Bodhidharma that revived the physical practice after the fitness of the residents was declining.
I say this in the sense that there was a lot of cross pollination going on, and archiving a lot of practices from eachother.
I'm in complete agreement with respect to the benefits for CNS stimulation. I have no doubt there are other ways to achieve it than lifting heavy weights, just that that method has been particularly helpful for me. I recall seeing some research a while back that the neural stimulation of lifting actually improves brain health. Naively that seems weird, but once you learn a bit about how motor units are recruited it starts to make sense. My knowledge of biology is at the undergraduate level, but my intuition and personal experience both say that there are no truly discrete systems in the body. They all affect each other to some degree, just some more than others. Given that, the idea that breathing exercises could cause positive adaptions in the CNS is something I'd expect. Where I'm ignorant is what the magnitude of those adaptions is given what appears to be a relatively mild training stimulus. My guess is that advanced efficacious breathing techniques must be far from mild, but I freely admit my ignorance since I've never done anything past the silicon valley corporate mindfulness workshop.
A lot of people here advocating for strength training, but aren't mentioning the caveat: potential for injury. I used to spend 6 days a week doing a mixture of HIIT and strength training. Despite my best attempts, there were occasional lapses in form, and I found that I was developing joint pains, and indeed a few injuries.
Controlled breathing, as mentioned, is central to the wim hof method, the yogic practice of pranayama, and to many kinds of martial arts and meditation, and doesn't really have the potential for injury (with the exclusion of the more physically demanding martial arts). Some of those practices are also more accessible to people with mobility issues.
My personal experience with yoga and meditation, is a very significant uplift in mood, and better sleep (I used to have a very bad snoring problem). I also do a mix of weighted exercise, callisthenics, and cardio, and I've found the combination to work very well.
That's not really straw-manning when exercise-induced injury is the main point you are trying to make.
6 days a week of HIIT training, without enough time for your body to recover is a recipe for injury. Of course, this can vary from person to person and the intensity of the workout and the level of your experience and form - but these are things you didn't mention.
Point taken. To clarify, it wasn't always 6 days a week, that was an over-exaggeration by me. An average was maybe ~4.5 days a week, and some days were much lighter than others. I was maybe trying to communicate that I've invested in this kind of regime, and it's derailed the conversation away from the point I was trying to make.
HIIT is very specific, you’re talking bout going past your lactic acid threshold, they are very hard to recover from. So much so that it will stop you from other exercise. You wouldn’t even be thinking about lifting weights.
This would of course lead to injury. I don’t think anyone wants to squat heavy after sprinting.
Weightlifting is pretty safe when done right. Just make sure you have plenty of rest. At the same time, unrelated, but the posture benefits are way overrated. In fact, it’s gonna lead to bad posture over time unless you couple it with yoga or some sort of corrective stretching.
> This would of course lead to injury. I don’t think anyone wants to squat heavy after sprinting.
That's a fair call. Heavy weight training was usually on separate days, but I recall some crossfit WODs would include deadlifts alongside other fast-paced exercises, and now I question the safety of that. Those deadlifts were likely low weight, high-rep though.
Regarding strength training and injury you have a point: if you are a beginner avoid anything with a powerlifting bias (i.e. adding weight is the main objective). Stronglifts, r/fitness, ... Also bench press will not do much for posture.
Bodyweight training/calisthenics is interesting but is lacking on two of the best exercises for posture: Face pulls and (Romanian) Deadlifts. For Deadlifts light to moderate weight is enough, with perfect form, be careful if you have tight hamstring to work on mobility.
Just to clarify: I was training with a gym instructor friend and he was assessing my form and we were doing the whole gamut of exercises. We were doing heavy weight training 1-3 times a week (deadlifts, clean+jerk, strict press, amongst others) mixed up with other crossfit style routines (kettle bells, calisthenics, gymnastics, cardio).
Bodyweight stuff is what I mostly do now with some weighted exercises, but I'm keen to get into heavier weights again.
From memory, I believe it did. But since then I've taken up meditation which has had a much larger impact on my life, and so it's hard to tease apart which helps what, and to what degree.
The technique I learnt was at a 10-day silent retreat, of which we spent the first days (9-hours a day) exclusively on concentrating on respiration. With this new awareness, I realised, just in my day to day, and especially when I'm trying to focus, I sometimes forget to breathe. This is something I otherwise would not have noticed and not corrected. Also important to note that I used to have mild sleep apnoea, and I would always wake up feeling groggy from lack of oxygen. I haven't had a sleep study since I've started practicing, but I no longer wake up groggy, and now I can go to sleep within the hour instead of tossing and turning half the night.
I've noticed that yoga and meditation have also improved my breathing and form during exercise.
I only had mild sleep apnoea (according to a sleep study). Meditation (maybe not yoga) did reduce symptoms for me, but there are many contributing factors, and for severe cases CPAP is often necessary. Based on my limited anecdata, I think meditation could help other reduce or manage their symptoms, and I strongly doubt it could be harmful.
Kind of too long for an HN post but long distance running is all a game of efficiency. Good breathing makes sure your oxygen levels are working for you rather than against you. I remember subtle things like switching between calmer breathing to steady the heartrate and deeper faster breathing for getting over a hill. This all can happen naturally, but you'll be surprised the difference in doing the breathing mindfully/proactively rather than passively.
The breathing also helps mentally but also helps relax the body. As you are exerting yourself it can be a natural response to carry tension in your body. Tension is usually the enemy of body mechanics - it leads to inefficient technique.
Watch any sport (including running) and something notable about any pro is how easy or relaxed they look.
This can be learned and breathing has some chicken/egg relationship with relaxation
Lifting works faster. Trying to change your posture by noticing and correcting it is just brutally difficult. You need to mindfully check in multiple times an hour. Lifting you only need to attend to your posture while you’re doing it and your posture will improve without conscious effort as your tendons and sinews stretch and you get more muscle. Running or dancing will do the same thing but the returns on each hour of work are going to be lower than for lifting weights.
I'll add an endorsement for lifting, especially as part of cross-training for another sport to avoid injury.
I am also extremely partial to sprinting. The closest you can come without drugs to a certain type of very lean and muscular physique is to combine lifting and sprinting. Sprinting is great for your abdominals, quads, calves, so it can really balance out the bulky, top-heavy look that can come from only lifting.
I’ve been lifting weights for 15 odd years, and while I agree with you, it’s not always a magic bullet.
After a period of excessive work (slumping in a chair for 18 hours a day), combined with a sports injury, I ended up with a very messed up posture. Lifting weights actually exacerbated the issue, rather than fixing it.
Lifting is also one of the most efficient ways to stretch. The only thing to know is the you should always do the motion with a full range of motion (ROM). Full ROM is actually best for making muscle, but if you also do it with a your bodyweight on your back, it's practically THE perfect stretching exercise.
+1 to dead lifts... one of my favorite exercises. They are great, especially for most of us that stay in front of the computer most of the day, they are awesome and getting your body form back into the right shape.
Just be careful with form, and learn the technique well before increasing the weights, as they can be intense for your back.
Seriously don't try to go heavy on deadlifts until your form is 100%. It's a great exercise (possibly the best), but have someone to correct your form realtime, or lift light and film on your phone, check it, correct, lift again 'light' until it's on point. Get someone else who knows their stuff to form check it as well. Always better to lift light and correct rather than heavy and wrong.
I always thought there was an opening for an Xbox Kinect like solution to this problem, that analysed form and warned what was wrong, but I guess the liability for something like that is just too great.
And... read Rippetoe, I still think it's the best text any serious lifter should have read through at least once.
I really miss lifting weights. Gyms have been closed for three months due to the pandemic, and I can feel my muscle mass evaporating. I can do some bodyweight exercises at home, but there's no room for weights in a tiny flat :-(.
I know bodyweight is no perfect substitute and you probably already know this, but you can still have progressions of bodyweight exercise variants in a way that mimics progressive overload of weight to some extent. Check out the infographic here - http://www.startbodyweight.com/2014/01/basic-routine-infogra... - 8 types of exercise with progressively tougher variants. If nothing else it helps keeps things interesting
When you are angry you breathe fast, when you’re relaxed you breathe slowly, you must have noticed that. Emotions affect breathing. The reverse is also true, if you control your breathing you can control your emotions/feelings and overall physical well being.
I've been doing breathing exercises regularly for the past 8 years. Complete game changer for emotional regulation. I've also organized and taught it in schools, prisons, offices, etc. on a volunteer basis.
I like it because it's not a logical activity. Nobody has to be convinced that it works or makes sense. If you breathe in a certain way, your feelings will change (or something noticeable will happen) whether you believe in it or not.
I'm happy it's becoming more mainstream. Even if you don't do it regularly, it's a good thing to learn.
I'd recommend starting with Alternate Nostril breathing and Bhastrika. Each exercise takes about 5 minutes each. For both exercises, try them with the eyes open until you can do it with eyes closed. Then follow the routine.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (ANB)
Routine: 2 minutes ANB. Rest* 1 minute. 2 minutes ANB.
Benefits: Good for when you're feeling overwhelmed by tech or too many thoughts at Video example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VwufJrUhic (3:20 - 4:56)
Notes: A lot of the videos I've found online have an awkward hand posture. I'm not sure it's necessary. The general idea is to close one nostril at a time and alternate breathing.
Rest means sit with your eyes closed and breathe normally. Rest your hands on your lap palm facing up.
Ujayyi Breathing (UJ)
Benefits: Really nice and really subtle breathe you can do anywhere. This is actually a very useful breath to be aware of.
Routine: 2 minutes UJ. Rest* 1 minute. 2 minutes UJ.
Video example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwEdfOuhoY4
Notes: Foundational breath for yoga and pranayama (pranayama means breath control)
I personally do pranayama (3-stage pranayama w/ UJ breathing) with bhastrika and a kriya breathing exercise (SKY breathing) every morning. I also occasionally do alternate nostril breathing before meditation. This is something simpler, though, that I think anyone can try out and see if it works for them or not. There are also a lot of other good comments in this thread, but this is what I have personal experience with.
For the people asking for a routine I would recommend
“Light on Prãnãyãma: The Yogic Art of Breathing” by B. K. S. Iyengar. All the info you could ever want and more. I have had a regular pranayama practice for the past several years and this book really helps dial in the mechanics of it as well as some great history.
I've heard about people that basically do this constantly everyday essentially making their diaphragms stronger . I feel like I need to go to class to learn this . I just to the basics which is slow breathing through the nose and fill air specifically in the stomach region . Hold . Exhale through the mouth slowly . Repeat
The most basic one I have seen everywhere, in different forms, is to
A)focus on the breath, or a part of the body affected by breath like your lips or chest or stomach
B)diaphragmatic breathing in thru nose and out thru mouth
C)inhale for x seconds, hold for x seconds, exhale for x seconds, hold for x seconds, repeat
And over time train x seconds to become longer and longer. You might start with 4 or 6 seconds at first.
I can heartily recommend the book “the healing power of breath” , easy technique (adapted from yoga) and no need to think about all sorts of steps, just the breath rhythm you need to “get” It also comes with audio tracks.
For a while I dove into this topic heavily and it seemed that most of the resources I’ve found were good and surprisingly similar as the sample size got larger. Initially I was pretty skeptical about some being less authentic but that mattered less as I’ve gone on. Sorry for avoiding the question, but I’d say doing some research will reveal its own path that will be somewhat personal and different than others’.
I've been worried in recent years about getting a big gut from diaphragmatic breathing. My BMI is low but when I breath that way (and when it feels best) my belly can really stick out. Do you have any opinion on this?
As someone who has been teaching yoga for a decade, the only thing there is to “get” is finding the right rhythm for your body type (aka your lung capacity)
I can heartily recommend the book “the healing power of breath” , easy technique (adapted from yoga) and no need to think about all sorts of steps, just the breath rhythm you need to “get” It also comes with audio tracks.
Search for “pranayama” on YouTube etc. this is quite common for of exercise in in the Indian subcontinent but you might not be familiar if you are in the west or otherwise remote from the Indian/yoga culture
Also Look into the books or talks (on YouTube) by Dr. Chris Willard
A while back someone on HN recommended Sivananda Yoga. The first part of it includes some breathing exercises. I was suffering from repeated flu-like symptoms, sinus, etc since the beginning of this year. I had some difficulty breathing and actually had to get tested for corona thrice since my symptoms were eerily similar. After I started doing these exercises, my sinus and other breathing difficulties have disappeared. The exercises seem to give me a boost of energy. I've been using them as a drug especially on the days I don't sleep well. I do them first thing in the morning. This is anecdotal and might not work for you. Thanks to the HNer that recommended it. It's been life changing.
I've been overbreathing (essentially, chronic hyperventilation that you don't notice) ever since I had a bit of a health scare.
Your CO2 levels drop, which inhibits your body's blood pH regulation. An increased blood pH leads to fuzzy thoughts, pinpricks all over your body, headaches, etc. Longer term, all kinds of aches start popping up. (Bloating, acid reflux, etc.)
It's difficult to fix something that you did unconsciously before. If anything, paying too much attention to your breathing works against you.
I have no real point here, except: breathing is important. And, if someone happens to read this and has some advice: let me know. :-)
Have you tried an incentive spirometer? They're about fifteen dollars on Amazon. I got one recently to track (what I assume is) my lung volume to use as a possible indicator of covid, but after reading the directions it seems like the device is purpose made for your problem.
You practice breathing with this thing 4 times a day, ten breaths a session, and track the volume of your inhalations. In order to get the number to go up you need to take long, deep, and slow breaths.
It will give you a clear numerical result to track. 4 sessions a day, 10 breaths each, record your measurements, plug them into Excel, get an average going and work on driving it up.
I also feel like there's potentially a market for a digital incentive spirometer that could help people do these things. Especially if problems like this are somewhat common.
I came to the conclusion that poor breathing habits are somehow connected to poor posture, mainly of the neck and the ribcage. I've had some poor breathing habits myself and doing deep breathing exercises incorrectly actually messed me up even worse for about a week or so. Yeah, that wasn't fun at all but it went away eventually. In the end I ended up concentrating more on posture and that seemed to correct the breathing as well. I find myself sitting in a poor posture from time to time and notice the breathing becomes limited and shallow as well.
It's a bit of a chicken and egg situation. For years I had poor posture (typical nerd-neck) to the point where standing up straight I couldn't actually breathe properly so I slouched around everywhere instead. My chest and neck were too tight to fully inhale otherwise. I had to fix both at the same time.
How did you fix it? I'm going through that exact thing. I think I have to retrain myself to relax my chest and stomach muscles and breathe deeply at the same time, but it's super difficult and I can only do 2/3.
I got a bit fat and my wife suggested we got to the gym together (pretty much the first time ever for me, age 30+). I had no idea until she mentioned it, it creeps up on you.
Pilates/yoga were good for core strength and stretching. If you want to start at home Yoga by Adriene on YT is very beginner friendly. I was never a fan of cardio or strength training but I did a bit of that too (it was a gym with various classes and instructors).
Also got a dog, it's a great excuse for daily walks.
One day I realised I was actually resting my head on the headrest in the car and wasn't uncomfortable. Until then it'd never felt right and made my throat feel tight at the front. I still have a way to go though, I have back issues and you don't fix 15 years of bad posture in 3 years.
Edit: I'll add after reading the other reply, at the start it's a struggle just knowing what good posture is. It doesn't feel right and natural, because your version of natural has been modified. You don't know how it's meant to feel. I found that exercises which exhaust certain muscle groups helped a lot. They gave up some of their grasp and let other muscles work. After a really heavy workout sometimes my back felt looser and more mobile and this helped me learn how it could feel.
Stretches and mobility exercises. Then one has to be aware of bad/good posture when standing/walking/sitting/doing any activities basically: playing guitar or any instrument, typing on keyboard, etc. We learn to do it wrong and then it becomes second nature. I’ll be honest, what helped me most to be aware and able to change the perception of my posture was after smoking a small dose of pot, small enough not to get one high, maybe buzzed is a better word. I think it helps relaxing muscles - and with poor posture some muscles have to more work and are always tense - and then it helps the proprioceptive awareness.
Poor posture can be slowly changed and it is life changing, obviously worth it.
Surprisingly the tongue has some major effect on posture, especially on forward head posture. There are all sorts of tongue exercises that benefit breathing, posture and even the looks. Tongue should be basically resting behind top front teeth and slightly press up the palate. For exercises look up muscular imbalances and see if you identify any on your posture. But all things start at the feet though, if feet have a problem the whole chain up gets affected so pay attention to the whole body.
I've imagined building a digital version. I think the big opportunity is in how relatively hard it is track progress on an analog scale. You have to watch the little indicator that you raise with your breath until it stops rising. You don't get an exact reading.
I imagine the digital version using a range finder at the top of the tube to calculate how high you raise the thing you're raising by breathing in and then calculate and report the volume of air you inhaled.
If you combine this with an app you've got a little product going. App can track progress over time. Show you some graphs. Remind you to use the spirometer.
Sell the digital spirometers to hospitals who sometimes give them to patients who have respiratory problems. Get some data to prove the digital version works better and then get insurance companies to cover it or buy it.
As for being happy with it - yeah pretty much. It's not like it's mind blowing or anything and I've not tried any others to compare it to, so take that for what it's worth, but it works.
I keep mine next to my desk and use it when I'm bored or need a moment to think. I tried following the recommend pattern of use in the instructions but didn't stick to it for very long. Now I just use it when the fancy strikes me.
Chronic anxiety is a vicious cycle of anxiety-inducing thoughts leading to physical symptoms leading to more anxiety-inducing thoughts. The most recommended solution is to chronic anxiety is to always just refocus on the task you're currently doing and continue on. You'll quickly forget about paying attention to your breathing and return to normal breathing.
Do NOT do breathing exercises to curb anxiety, because that will just reinforce the pathways in your brain and your anxiety will keep recurring.
If you're noticing you're mind is dwelling on anxiety-inducing thoughts you need to refocus on your current task.
Just keep doing that whenever symptoms popup.
The symptoms will popup less and less frequently, and you'll have developed such strong coping mechanisms that you automatically handle the issue.
This is approach is called "cognitive behavioral therapy" or CBT, and is an evidence-based approach used widely. You can consult a therapist and get taught CBT skills by a professional. (That's what I did)
In addition to learning CBT techniques, and get regular exercise and enough sleep. I recommend you cut out all caffeine until you have developed strong CBT skills. Of course, rule out any underlying medical issues and work on any medical conditions (obesity, bad posture).
Once you're comfortable you have anxiety under control you can slowly re-introduce caffeine.
Source: I used to have severe and debilitating chronic hyperventilation and anxiety, but sought help from a CBT therapist a few years ago. Now when I am living my life and notice I've started hyperventilating (or dwelling on an anxious thought), I can immediately stop it by refocusing. It's changed my life and I highly recommend learning the CBT techniques.
I highly recommend a few sessions with a CBT therapist. If you're not in a position to do that you might be able to learn about CBT techniques from elsewhere, such as YouTube.
I'll add a bit of caution for readers: CBT is useful to many but might not be enough, or the right tool, for everyone.
I tried it for years with multiple psychologists and had no progress. Eventually, I found a great psychologist who helped me with a blend of IFS ("internal family systems") and mindfulness to help me not constantly unknowingly suppress feeling and allow me to be present and process emotions.
There's lots of approaches out there, so if anyone's not making progress, try out some of the others!
Just a riff here based on my personal experience with anxiety, Ithink once an anxiety attack is happening is not the best of times of doing a practice. While slowing your breath helps for instance, its best to reinforce a pattern of breathing when you are at rest.
This is also why I recommend the book “the healing power of breath” its one of the best books I found on the topic without confusing you with all kinds of techniques and so on.
Basically in the beginning you practice 20 minutes a day in rest, so your bodymind starts to adapt to it, and it may overcome the causality that leads to anxiety.
I'm not sure. That statement was paraphrasing what the CBT therapist mentioned when I asked about learning breathing exercises. For the same reason the therapist also advised against my previous coping mechanisms like getting up and leaving the room, in favor for the strategy of simply recognizing your anxious mental state and refocus on the task at hand.
> The most recommended solution is to chronic anxiety is to always just refocus on the task you're currently doing and continue on.
Usually I'm relaxed in the morning, then go to work, enter a state of flow / complete focus, then at the end of the day I'm anxious (this becomes worse when I enter the supermarket for my evening groceries, even as I continue to think about work) and my breath is messed up (short, shallow breathing).
How would your method help here? For me it seems there is a contradiction, or not? Could you explain?
The original poster and I have experienced the vicious cycle of debilitating chronic anxiety with panic attacks and the physical symptoms of hyperventilation like chest pain. CBT crucially helped me "break the cycle" of that mental illness, and I thought my experiences may be helpful for the original poster who solicited advice. But my knowledge of CBT techniques are not from my own research, but second hand knowledge via several sessions with the CBT therapist.
With that said, the CBT advice would be to recognize that thinking about your work in the evenings is causing you anxiety, so to stop getting anxiety you should refocus on the task at hand (shopping for groceries) and stop thinking about work. It's OK to let your mind wander while you shop for groceries, but CBT is about catching yourself when your mind drifts back to a topic which causes you anxiety (your work), and then using the task at hand (shopping for groceries) as a tool to basically distract yourself.
How you can make thinking about work cause you less stress is a different question. My personal advice is to try exercising after work, you'll feel very relaxed after. But if you're finding you're still stressed after work, my suggestion would be to seriously considering stopping your thoughts about work after hours (again, by catching that you're thinking about work and refocusing). Chronic stress kills.
It's like reading something I wrote! I've been in the same boat (chronic hyperventilation, acid reflux, headache, panic attacks) for the past 10+ years and it also started with a health scare. However in my case, it seems to be mostly related to muscle tenseness caused by serotonin imbalance. I finally had too many episodes few years ago and it forced me to learn about it and find ways to deal with it.
Without knowing the root cause in your case, the only thing I can suggest is to train yourself to breathe right while your figure out the underlying cause. The Breathing Retraining chapter of the PTSD Handbook  is the best resource I've found for this.
I suggest you see a psychiatrist as chronic hyperventilation can be related to mental health issues.
Please read this book : the healing power of breath.
As someone who taught yoga and is familiar with overbreathing, they teach a very simple technique and the writers have a lot of experience.
You actually practice for twenty minutes a day at first, and the technique is very simple (so you don’t get lost in all kinds of details) Once you get the right rhythm for your body type you’re good to go.
Sounds like an easy way to die. Hmmm, yep, DDG for "oxygen deprivation tent" yields, as first sentence:
' Oxygen deprivation tents or “altitude tents” are risky at best. '
But I see their use and that of other athletic oxygen deprivation gear.
In all fairness, our swim team used to do freestyle "hypoxic" drills. For example, we would breathe every other swim stroke for a pool length, then every 3rd stroke for a length, then every 4th stroke, ... until we failed. Once we failed we would fall back to breathing every other stroke. Nobody, to the best of my knowledge, ever passed out but one could feel the hit to one's brain when the O2 level got too low (or the CO2 too high, or whatever).
Those drills were uncomfortable, to say the least, and I was never convinced that they did much good. OTOH they did help me to relax in holding my breath under circumstances where breathing was not possible (e.g., in turns and underwater pushoffs where you might not breathe for nearly a pool length, and they trained me not to panic b/c I needed a breath. I suppose that, thanks to such drills, I might be a little harder to waterboard than the usual suspects, but I chose a less exciting line of work!8-))
Hypoxic training helps swimmers acclimate to the feeling of hypoxia while swimming so they can time their breathing better, it doesn't improve lung function. Humans need much longer exposure to low oxygen for the desirable adaptations to kick in.
What is this site? Firefox gives me an invalid cert error - the page is apparently presenting a certificate issued to cloudflare-dns.com. The site has a Wikipedia article (archive.today) which mentions something about blocking the Cloudflare DNS resolver, but the machine I'm on uses the default (ie my ISP's) resolver. Does anyone know what's going on here?
Unbelievable! Apparently Mozilla unilaterally enabled DoH in my browser sometime within the past 2 months without so much as notifying me! WTF?! This sort of thing is completely unacceptable no matter how pure their intentions might be.
In the great order of things the "megabar" isn't that big of a deal.
I personally hate it, but that's just me.
Objectively it's bad UI for a few reasons, but I don't want to write a big screed about UI design.
At the root of the problem is what dude said above: their attitude stinks.
They activate it without consent.
They remove the option to disable it.
Mozilla has become a caricature of itself. They were already just a fig leaf over Google's hegemony (They get 85%-90% of their money from Google and send telemetry to them by default.) Now it seems like they are adopting the same patronizing and distant stance.
I hate to say it because I used to really like Mozilla and I even have some friends working there so I know it's a bunch of really good, committed folks over there, but to me their progress and process have become retrograde along the dimensions I care most about.
I did pretty well at running a race, a few years ago as a typical sedate developer, but training for 3 months. I was sick (i.e. flu-ey a lot, nothing uber serious) at the time too - I was running to help see if I can fitness my way out of it.
And I put a lot of it down to reading about breathing in for 2 steps then out for 3 (the total is an odd number so you change sides, so 3/4 is good too). Thanks for whoever wrote that blog post! The process really focuses me and it's like a drumbeat in my mind. If I sprint it changes to 1/1 or less though, and I stop using the nose!
My "regular" breathing pattern (i.e. the one I use to run at medium-hard paces for long distances) is:
nose-in, mouth out: in, out-out, in-in, ooout.
1/4, 1/8, 1/8, 1/8, 1/8, 1/2.
I attenuate the BPM to my pace: on high intensity runs, I usually can get away with raising the BPM, but the last 1/2 is very hard and I sometimes break it into 1/4 out, 1/4 in (more oxygen). For sprinting, any pattern goes away, and it's 1/4 in, 1/4 out. Still nose to mouth, but I think the optimal solution here depends a lot on the shapes of your nose/mouth. :)
And most people think running is just putting one foot in front of the other! :)
To some extent it is of course, but these kinds of cadences are necessary to run effectively, which I guess is different from just running.
- My name is mettamage (metta = loving-kindness in Buddhism). So I'm into this stuff (read search inside yourself for the science on meditation).
- Like Wim, I'm Dutch: Nederlands is mijn moedertaal en ik ben pienter genoeg om Engels te spreken ;-) Soms ben ik een flierefluiter ^^ (Google Translate won't get that right, haha)
- I have mentioned it before (it's somewhere in my HN history).
TL;DR - what I did in Poland for 4 training days:
1. Breathing Techniques: the most important one is a lot like hyperventilation but not the same (!). Explanation: I couldn't find a good YouTube video quick as even Wim himself isn't explaining it well on YouTube, IMO. He explained it way differently than me. The WHM is a lot like this video, except it's quite quick and not this seemingly relaxing breathing stuff: https://youtu.be/nzCaZQqAs9I?t=137
2. Cold exposure training (including breathing technique)
3. Walking up a mountain for 2.5 hours (-7 degrees celsius) in my shoes and shorts. I was fine. It was a lot of fun as well. The adrenaline was high and insanely awesome. Thrill seekers love this stuff.
Then afterwards we got tested with an endotoxin. Normally you get an immune response. People who did the WHM had a 50% reduced immune respons and a lot of adrenaline. They think it's because of the shit ton of cortison that we produce while doing the WHM. A lot of cortisol --> weakened immune response.
There is already a lot of research. I have some comments about it in my whole HN history for if you're truly curious.
Go to Google Scholar and look it up.
I just re-edited my whole thing (behind a laptop now).
For other HN people I did mention pre-edit: "Wim is crazy. The people studying him aren’t."
Enough research has been done, as far as I'm concerned it's a case closed.
The WHM does things that we couldn't do before (e.g. be more resistant against the cold). Now we can, more research is needed to fully understand it. For people who dismiss it, they simply haven't taken the time to watch some doctor explain it on YouTube in-depth. And I get that, but then don't say it's BS, simply say you're sceptical.
I'm the first person to burn occult things to the ground as I hate nonsense. This seems occult, but it isn't. It doesn't help that Wim acts like a guru, but what he does can be rooted in science. He roots it in science by asking scientists to research him. From his perspective that's all he can do.
>I'm the first person to burn occult things to the ground as I hate nonsense. This seems occult, but it isn't. It doesn't help that Wim acts like a guru, but what he does can be rooted in science. He roots it in science by asking scientists to research him. From his perspective that's all he can do.
I don't mean to sound offensive, but you sound exactly like one of those sleazy occult (or MLM) salesmen that's trying to bullshit me. On the other hand, if this works then great!
It’s not. When I first walked into the workshop yoga center I was like none of these people have their heads screwed on right. I proceeded the breathework workshop, mostly out of curiosity, and it was transformative. I’m a convert.
How you are breathing is also a part of your body language. I don't know how much of your breathing is recognized by other humans, but having been around animals most of my life, I've realized they perceive how you are breathing at the moment as a signal of what you are thinking. If you suddenly hold your breath, you are tense. You may not even be aware you are doing it. If you release the air in your lungs and breath out, you are relaxing. These are 2 of the strongest cues that animals react to. If you're curious, the next time your around an animal, experiment with it. Try steady in and out breathing, then subtly hold your breath for a moment, then exhale loudly, and see if and how the animal responds.
The book : Oxygen advantage makes similar points.
It points out to the research of why swimmers have higher life expectancy than the average athelete, why almost all of us are hyperventilating. Then he outlines simple exercises to improve your breathing habit.
1. Always breathe through your nose. Even when you are jogging/cycling heavily.
2. Try to hold your breathe for elongate period of time.
3. Try doing 2 while walking/running/cycling.
5. Pushing the breathe out and then holding is better than taking the breathe in and holding.
The general principal may be fine. My narrow nostrils are one of several genetic reasons why I would be more likely to be eaten by a tiger than many. So I'm not in the upper percentiles that this advice is likely aimed at!
This is for whenever I need to slow down for whatever reason. I don't do it every day. I am not a believer in spiritual so this is a completely mechanic breathing exercise for me and I can immediately feel my heart rate going down and overall better feel.
Have you tried counting backwards from a big number like 5000? I had a guided meditation once that used this method. The longer number and slightly higher cognitive load is apparently useful to distract your brain from distracting thoughts and imagery. Just enough work to keep it busy but relaxed. I lost track a lot, they said just pick the last number you remember without trying too hard and continue.
First you need a inspiratory muscle trainer device and nose clips/plugs. It's basically just a valve that can be tightened with a knob. You can get them on Amazon and whatnot.
The actual exercise just involves inhaling through the device, for a couple of minutes, and over the course of days/weeks/months working up to higher resistance levels. It's hard work, and it bugs me that it forces you to mouth-breathe, but it will strengthen the muscles.
Always when im zoned out drawing or painting i notice the pattern in my breath, it’s much slower and holds a bit at the end. The effect is super calming. I wonder what other activities people do to get this type of breathing. For coding Im so concentrated at times that I zone out 100%, dont even notice that im breathing. However, coding while stressed out makes the breathing shallow, quick and unsatisfying.
A lifetime of lung problems (asthma, and many cases of pneumonia as a child) and martial arts has made me very conscious of my breathing. Spent a lot of time with physiotherapists working on breathing. In part just to strengthen muscles, but also to learn airway clearance techniques. Started practicing martial arts as a child, where there is often a strong focus on breath. Tried the Buteyko method for a while, but never fully internalized it.
There is, anecdotally, definitely some underappreciated value in slow breathing. Feeling anxious (for whatever reason)? Check your breathing and slow it down. Maybe throw in some alternate nostril breathing, though I'm not sure if it's the distraction that does it or the breathing. Light asthma attack and wheezing? Check your breathing, slow it down, maybe add some pursed lip exhalations. Major asthma attack? Inhaler :-).
But in spite of the improvements I've made to breathing while I'm awake, I still managed to develop sleep apnea. You win some, you lose some ...
It makes sense that controlling your breathing would help with asthma. After all, asthma is triggered by stressing your airways. If you can somehow do it less then that will help. I find it odd that this isn't taught to everyone who suffers from asthma. It could potentially save their life.
I help out with a festival literally called “Breathe” https://www.discoverbreathe.com/
It started largely focusing on Slacklining and has since branched out to many other things but it quite remarkable how much the way we breath affects us mentally and physically!
Related tangent: over 7 years ago, in recovery from emergency medical treatment, I started "sitting zazen" (doing Sato Buddhist Zen -based seated meditation) for 10 minutes every morning. It's been transformational. It's so simple. And so powerful. Being able to connect with your breath, return to the present moment, and quiet your possibly-noisy mind... it's practically a superpower. I'm a much, much happier and better person for it. Highest possible recommendation to find a breath-related habit that works for you.
I've been meditating for two years, have found similar benefits, and I'm sure it's not a function of age because sometimes I stop for a while and the benefits go away. It doesn't seem like placebo either, because previously I'd tried other meditation techniques that weren't nearly so beneficial.
There's a fair amount of peer-reviewed research on the benefits of mindfulness meditation, and it doesn't seem all that unlikely that exercising your brain in different ways really can help your brain function differently.
The subjectivity of experience doesn't prevent something being science.
How might someone conduct a blinded placebo controlled trial of a suicide prevention campaign, or of parental advice to help reduce risk of cot death, for example?
They wouldn't. They'd roll up their sleeves and get deeply involved in the messy, unpredictable world of human emotion and social interaction.
And that's good and appropriate, and there are effective and responsible methods for doing it.
Just because we can point to something and say "aha, that's subjective" doesn't mean we need to eliminate it. In fact, the more we try to eliminate it, the harder it becomes to translate evidence from the lab to the real world.
Objectivity world be nice, but it's vanishingly rare.
Well, when it comes to studying breathing techniques and their effect over time you can quite easily do a large scale randomized controlled trial and survey participants on perceived increase in well-being, right?
Indeed and yet, paradoxically, living longer is quite literally what's killing you¹...
1: Cells have two ultimate fates: they either fail to resist cancer or, if they succeed, eventually die of doing it, sort of wear-and-tear, i.e. "ageing" as we call it. Lookup telomeres and cancer. Therein lies the recent hype/hope of increasing human life expectancy by a lot, perhaps orders of magnitude.
related to your related tangent: my great grandfather was obsessed with something called the "Buteyko method" for breathing. He was able to control and basically heal his asthma with it. My grandma (his daughter) now does it for herself and seemingly has great results for mental/physical health. I used to do it as a child but I fell off of it and now I've been thinking of going back as a meditative method.
I found this on Buteyko: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKaUEVnducI
Interesting, he seems to be saying that we shouldn't take deep breaths instead slow and shallow. So kind of the opposite of many other techniques mentioned here.
The Buteyko Method is based on the idea that over breathing or hyperventilating is bad for you. Contrary to popular belief expelling too much carbon dioxide is actually not good for you due to the Bhor Effect, which basically says that oxygen cant be released from haemoglobin to cells in our body without enough carbon dioxide. By slowing your breath you increase the amount of carbon dioxide in your body , which then allows better oxygenation of your cells due to the Bhor Effect.
I have severe doubts about something like this being able to heal asthma. It very likely helps against asthma attacks and when it's triggered, but asthma in general is an allergic reaction. Slow breathing can help control it by limiting the irritation in the upper airways so that they don't constrict as quickly, but I don't see how it would get rid of it entirely.
> Most people are essentially constantly hyperventilating and our body is acting accordingly.
it's very interesting, because i always find that i'm instead almost always holding my breath for some reason. not sure if that has anything to do with doing these exercises or not, but im always taking deep breaths randomly because i dont realize that im sort of out of air
Well, reading that and testing how long I can breathe out and hold it is how I noticed iOS stopwatch can be swiped left/right and has a cool analogue stopwatch display.
> "Having a control pause of less than 25 seconds is poor and 25 seconds to 35 seconds means there is room for improvement. The goal is to reach a comfortable breath hold time of 40 seconds. The average control pause of students attending our clinics is around 15 seconds."
5 seconds feels like a long time, 15 seconds is as far as I could go first couple of tries, 20-25 seconds my upper body/throat gets twitchy trying to reopen, then I pushed it to 30 seconds a couple of times, and just now 40 seconds.
I'm suspicious that something I can go from "poor" and "average" to the goal(?) in about 10 tries can be so serious - unless you're supposed to be able to do that between every breath?
When you start meditating, 10 mins a day is bullshit. You need 30 mins before you can get the hang of it. When you start out, go to a retreat if you can afford the time and money and sit there for 3 days and watch your mind. If you can't do this (I myself couldn't do this btw), then start with minimum 1 hour everyday first thing in the morning. At the 2 month mark you will see changes. After that you can bring the time down based on how much you can commit, still not less than 30 mins IMO. But give this a try with min 1 hour. It is life changing simple thing to not be able to give it at least a shot. I tried it for 10 years on and off before it finally clicked.
I can roughly offer supporting anecdotal evidence for this. I went years meditating 10-15 min increments without achieving much at all. It was only when I switched to doing 45-60 min every single day for about 3-4 months that some crazy and life-changing breakthroughs started happening.
Elimination of my social anxiety, near-constant mindfulness throughout the day, profound and lasting experiences of joy, some weird purging of like every negative emotion I've ever internalized, significant memory enhancements, etc. It was definitely not all sunshine and rainbows going through that process, especially since it caught me so off guard (I only got into meditation to have a bit more focus and discipline, and I even thought I was pretty practiced as a meditator before I started getting really diligent about it, but boy was I wrong.) ...but on balance, I'd overwhelmingly say it was worth it.
I did do some longer sessions (30-60m) in the beginning, which may have helped it to "click", but -- YMMV -- for me, ~10m is the threshold where it can suffice for the day. Increasingly in recent months I'm able to effectively meditate while doing other things, and it's more a deliberate letting go and and complete immersion in the present than a focus of attention on breathing... but starting my day w zazen is essential.
I also did meditation on and off for years, without much benefit. Then I went to a 10-day silent meditation course (the free Goenka one). On the third day it clicked. Now meditation is extremely useful for me. My life has improved a lot since then. I meditate about 4-5 one-hour sessions per month.
But if it doesn't you're doing it wrong and it's all your fault. Meditate on that for a bit. At the 2 month mark you will see changes.
Meditation is a journey going on different roads for different people. Don't imagine for a second that getting someplace else (or nowhere, for that matter) is necessarily an issue of technique. That's just the low effort explanation.
In "Mind Illuminated" it is suggested to start with 15 minutes and add 5 after each week. This book has been recommended here several times before, helped at least one person that meditated for years to advance further. Written by a neuroscientist that teaches meditation for decades.
Doing things just because research says you should do it, or because you're better safe than sorry, is simply punting the decision and the cognitive understanding to an authority. You shouldn't be surprised when none of these things "work" -- do you even understand why they should?
This is a nonsensical statement. I cannot confirm accepted research in a time efficient manner. What I can do to make my life better is read, and trust authoritative research, after confirming the authority.
Furthermore, I can observe personalized effects over long time spans - e.g. change in physical condition after lifting or getting enough sleep for x amount of time.
That is the exact same approach to meditation, what is your qualm?
Furthermore, I am yet to hear someone explain these depths in meditation that everyone seems to allude too. As far as I know it's "sit still, focus on one thing or push away all thoughts." Or chant a mantra, if you want to pay for Transcendental Meditation lessons which come up with a personalized mantra that makes zero sense at all.
Belief is your word, not mine. If you don't jump in front of the train, you have avoided that hazard. But if you understand why your parent told you not to jump in front of the train, you might also be able to independently figure out why you shouldn't jump in front of a speeding car.
Can you see what I'm getting at here?
EDIT: Sorry. Originally said "what I'm driving at here". It's been a long week and I'm subconsciously making bad puns.
Still, not jumping in front of the train will 'work' regardless of whether you understand why. And it's a lot more useful than remaining agnostic about train-jumping until you understand the physical principles involved.
Agreed that genuine understanding is more useful, of course -- but correctly choosing which authorities to believe (and with what level of confidence) is often a necessary second-best. How many things do any of us truly understand in full detail?
What if jumping in front of a train ("trainspotting") worked regardless of whether you understood why?
> How many things do any of us truly understand in full detail?
Can you visualize the mechanism? You either do or you don't. Maybe the visualization is misleading. Maybe it's not. But if you're at least doing the motions there, you're revising the mechanism rather than reinventing the wheel from scratch.
> What if jumping in front of a train ("trainspotting") worked regardless of whether you understood why?
Not sure if I understand you here (I don't get the 'trainspotting' reference), but: in a world where not jumping in front of trains was fatal, parents would instruct their kids to jump in front of trains, and the ones who took their advice would survive.
In a world where it didn't matter so much either way, who knows, maybe some parents would needlessly forbid their children from jumping in front of trains. So the kids who didn't blindly follow their parents' advice might benefit from their curiosity. But if they made a habit of ignoring their parents' advice until they fully understood the reasoning behind it, they would do a bunch of other stupidly dangerous things and probably die.
> Can you visualize the mechanism? You either do or you don't. Maybe the visualization is misleading. Maybe it's not. But if you're at least doing the motions there, you're revising the mechanism rather than reinventing the wheel from scratch.
I think there's a big gap between having some kind of mental model, and having a sufficiently detailed, accurate, robust mental model to make independent judgments in important contexts. Sure, a rough high-level understanding can be useful as a preliminary bullshit detector, pinging for things that should be taken with great scepticism pending further investigation; but unless you understand a topic in full detail, you're always at risk of making 'logical' deductions that fail because of unknown (to you) unknowns.
Sure, and that's inductive generalization and it's useful, but even just using empirical evidence is sufficient for a lot of things. You don't have to understand the causative relation. In fact, much of medicine is this way. Doing X causes adverse effect Y, doing P causes beneficial effect Q.
> You shouldn't be surprised when none of these things "work" -- do you even understand why they should?
Understanding is not required for many things. And in fact, the thing does work!
As an example, I do not actually understand why lifting makes me stronger. Why do muscles respond to increased resistance with more strength? Certainly my ankle ligaments didn't respond to injury with more strength. Well, I don't care and it doesn't matter. It will still work.
> As an example, I do not actually understand why lifting makes me stronger. Why do muscles respond to increased resistance with more strength? Certainly my ankle ligaments didn't respond to injury with more strength. Well, I don't care and it doesn't matter. It will still work.
Maybe you'll get lucky. Or maybe, you'll wish you took the time to understand should you blow a disc in your spine. Is it possible that that you'd learn a bit more about the difference between bodyweight exercises and more than bodyweight exercises, and the requisite amount of care to do the two sustainably long term without incurring risks of debilitating injury?
So you need a rule set, you need to take it seriously, you need to pick the right ones (and not accidentally pick the wrong ones or omit the right ones), and if you make a mistake, you can seriously physically injure yourself. Sounds like deep understanding to me; could you be taking it for granted because you've come to a point of mastery such it feels facile?
To what level of depth are you expected to understand this in order to work? Isn't this just an easy justification for anything not working?
Proper breathing isn't something that you have to understand in order to work. It works as long as you "follow the instructions". Meditation on the other hand is something completely different. It's not really a "scientific method" type of thing. It has components like breathing that still play a large part, it has strong autosuggestion aspects, and more. This means it will not work the same all the time and for all people regardless of understanding.
I know people who swear by Scientology and yet I'm sure you won't agree that it must be the supreme truth, you just don't understand it well enough.
throw1234651234 is simply stating their experience in earnest. I don't think downvotes are necessary here. Does their views on meditation threaten your own? Then go back to your cushions, meditate more.
If they were doing that, they could use a normal username. Signing up with a throwaway to post a one-line "doesn't work" criticism about something many people feel strongly about is much more akin to "trolling" than "sharing in earnest".
A more charitable interpretation is that they believe this kind of 'null anecdote' is useful: usually people who experience major effects (positive or negative) are much more likely to share their experiences, and that skews the body of anecdotal evidence.
(As for the account, who knows -- maybe they correctly anticipated downvotes, but believed the comment was nevertheless worth making -- but it is several months old.)
Go through my profile - I have been posting on this topic for a while, including in this thread. I recently read "Altered Traits", as a result of threads like these. Unfortunately, instead of the promised research, it was tripe that culminated in "I started taking medication for my high blood pressure because meditation doesn't work."
I am extremely interested in the subject, but I am also interested in concrete results.
How do you know it does absolutely nothing for you?
At the very least, those 10 minutes you're spending meditating are 10 minutes not spent doing something else. Whatever that something else is, would very likely have a different effect. So if anything, meditating is affecting you by displacing something else that would leave its own mark.
In some ways, I think "doing absolutely nothing" is the point of meditation, perhaps you're just not appreciating it yet.
It's hearing this kind of obviously silly but overly-confident statements that turn people away from this "mumbo jumbo". Clinically tested medication whose results can be replicated again and again doesn't work the same on all people but meditation? Yeah, that works or you're doing it wrong.
One of the things my meditation helped me realize is that I don't hold any ultimate truths. Seeing so many people insist they do is a clear sign they are doing it wrong.
Ever thought that you may be doing it wrong? This is often my first tool to turn to when something isn't as others describe. But once again, you may be right and it may not work for you. There is nothing in this world that fits everybody, we have some variations in what we respond to
I’m fairly sure there is more to it from a technique perspective. Works like the Visuddhimagga and the Vimuttimagga explain the whole “focus on one thing / focus on breath” thing in extraordinary detail, and I consider these basically a forgotten technology. I have found these micro-steps to be really helpful in learning to meditate more deeply but are almost entirely ignored in the Western explanations and meditation apps.
That said, the traditional texts are still hard to parse. I’ve considered writing a manual-to-the-manual of sorts that explains the same concepts but in a modern way. I should mention that Leigh Brasington has some really awesome content out there (videos, books, and articles). I am not a master meditator, but if that sort of a thing exists, Leigh is.
Others who have explained mindfulness of breathing in a modern way are Bhante Gunaratana, Bhikku Analayo, Culadasa, Larry Rosenberg, Bhikku Buddhadasa (though his take is unconventional), Michael Taft, etc.
But as you have said there are many more techniques. I've heard the breath called a relatively difficult meditation object for beginners.
There are many techniques that work. They can all be clearly outlined as well, but that is more work than I'm willing to undertake here. The names I dropped (as you kindly put it) have done all that work and compiled their efforts into well thought out, well written, well edited and well reviewed books. There are a lot of nuances and individual variations on problems that come up and how to get past them that all these books address.
But you have to make the effort of reading the books (or finding a competent teacher) and then practicing the techniques hard enough and long enough for a fair appraisal. 10 minutes a day of instructions from Headspace is predictably useless. You can write it off at that if you like, but it would be like pumping a dumbbell for two reps a day and concluding that weightlifting is useless as exercise.
To many, there are life changing effects, from being generally more aware to being more calm or sleeping better. Clearly, if for you it doesn't do any of that, you're one of those who cannot benefit from meditation. But you may never know if you're inadvertently not doing it right. So many times in my life I thought I was doing something right only to discover much much later that somehow I was doing it the wrong way.
The other important thing the article doesn't mention is that mouth-breathing causes the body to eliminate too much carbon dioxide -- you're literally "over-breathing". Blood CO2 is vital for proper oxygenation.
By dropping CO2 too low, you actually decrease brain and organ performance by binding oxygen too tightly with hemoglobin, starving your organs.
It's actually fairly rare for young people to have too little oxygen in their blood, but really common for them to have too little CO2, from over-breathing. By slowing down breathing, and most importantly, NOSE breathing, you normalize blood CO2 and restore cognitive / organ function.
I went to an allergy doctor (covered by insurance), got the tests, and found out I'm allergic to dust mites. Since following the doctor's advice, my nose no longer gets stuffy. Stopping the chronic inflammation has also helped my overall health and will probably prolong my life.
It was straightforward: encase mattress and pillows with waterproof covers (SafeRest & AllerEase), launder all bedding once a week on the hot/anti-bacterial setting, switch to furniture with non-fabric upholstery (Ikea Knislinge), and move to an apartment without carpet. Sleeping with a window open has also helped me a lot.
"You are allergic to xyz." is what you'll hear. And that's it. It doesn't actually fix the problem. They might prescribe a medication that helps in severe cases, but they generally don't give you advice like other comments here about fixing your mattress etc.
Exactly, if you are going to make a claim that most people are breathing inadequately, back it up more. The author made numerous appeals to authority and didn't include links to any studies. The only study he actually mentioned was a study on himself about mouth breathing.
It's worth pointing out in this connection that breathing is both autonomic and volitional. Only blinking (and I think one other that I can't recall ATM) is also like that. In other words, breathing is one of the only two (three?) vital autonomic processes that one can do non-optimally!
You can't digest wrong, or regulate your temperature wrong, or pump your blood wrong, etc. but you can breath wrong.
In some (sub-)cultures breathing is at the core of knowledge and health while in others it's barely understood, eh?
(FWIW, I suspect that volitional breathing must have something to do with spoken language, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to do other than speculate.)
Breathing in is mediated by the sympathetic nervous system (muscle tensing) and breathing out by the parasympathetic nervous system (muscle relaxing). Together they are the ANS.
When the amygdala (our alarm system) recognises danger it sets the sympathetic nervous system off which also mediates much of our automatic fight or flight responses, what we often describe as stress.
We have no direct conscious control over our amygdala, it’s a one way messaging system, apart from breathing (afaik). Breathing is one of the few ANS controlled functions that we have conscious control over.
In breathing slowly and deeply we decrease the rate we’re firing the sympathetic nervous system and increasing the rate of firing of the parasympathetic nervous system (muscles contract once, muscles relax for extended period).
I suspect this actually allows us some level of communication with the amygdala, perhaps allowing us to turn it off, or reduce it’s volume, which in turn would reduce the level of stress we experienced.
I can’t read the whole article because of the paywall, but I wanted to talk about how COVID-19 has impacted my mental health, and it has very much to do with breathing.
I have always had bad pollen allergies and I have always had moderate anxiety. I live alone. Great family and friends but over the past few months I was completely isolated.
One morning, I felt a tickle in my throat, I was able to tell myself that it was just from post nasal drip and not COVID related. Well, later that night I started to experience shortness of breath, chest tightness/pain. Then, my limbs started to tingle and go numb and lastly my face.
I walked outside for one and a half hours at 10:00 PM, identifying three sounds, three sights and three body parts. I finally calmed myself down from what I learned was an anxiety attack. I suffered multiple episodes of this for 5-6 nights. It was almost always triggered by a thought that I couldn’t breathe or I wasn’t getting enough air or that my chest was tight. It got to the point where I couldn’t function, broke down into tears and at twenty-six years old, I went back to my parents house.
I have been here for about a month. I had a couple minor episodes here, my parents were able to talk me out of it. I was also prescribed medication for the anxiety (so far this has been a tremendous help). One day, I didn’t feel anxious at all but I noticed that I couldn’t take a full deep breath most of the time. My parents told me it’s allergies, but the thought in the back of my mind that it was the virus or worse was always there.
I called my doctor again, he prescribed me singulair. It’s helped considerably but every time now that I take a deep breath I am extra thoughtful about it. I’ve been meditating and doing breathing exercises as often as I remember now and it has helped.
That being said, even if I don’t actually get the virus, this virus has taken a toll on me and my mental health. The isolation, not being in an office and hypochondria have negatively impacted me in ways I never would have imagined. However, I’m stronger for it now.
At 25 with post nasal drip and asthma, I had the same experience I was alone in my Brooklyn apartment for 9 weeks. I had the same progression and my first real experience with panic attacks and am now also at my parent's house but I've been here for less than 2 weeks so far.
This read like my experience entirely. This whole thing has really taken a toll and before this I wasn't really one to panic about anything.
Thanks, that advice in that post is really useful, I had started just keeping on with the task at hand and I'm glad to hear that was the right move. Breathing exercises just made me feel worse in the moment.
As to the therapist, I've had them off and on during particularly difficult times but nothing very long term and that has helped me so I think you're right it may be time to work out another couple month arrangement.
Pretty much the same thing happened to me. Hope you feel better!
Some notes from my own experience: Anxiety meds themselves can cause shortness of breath. Withdrawal from anxiety meds can cause further anxiety. Benadryl to treat post nasal drip can cause difficulty breathing. If you're laying down a lot, especially after eating, that can cause heart burn which if you're not used to it you would think your lungs are burning.
If you can - get tested. It will improve your confidence and help you get out of the funk.
> It was almost always triggered by a thought that I couldn’t breathe or I wasn’t getting enough air or that my chest was tight.
> One day, I didn’t feel anxious at all but I noticed that I couldn’t take a full deep breath most of the time.
What you experienced is called hyperventilation. It's when you breathe so much that you have exhaled too much CO2, causing a pH change in your blood. You then responded with fear that led to recurring panic attack (panic disorder).
I am surprised you didn't use the term 'hyperventilation'. Several years ago I had a similar episode, developing chest pain and recurring panic attacks (panic disorder) due to hyperventilation. In the past I also had moderate (to severe) anxiety.
Thanks I had a look and there are a few variations but yours seems simplest. A lot of these techniques seem to be about replacing a runaway train of thought with an innocuous focus of some kind to reset it.
sophisticated and subtle.. a good (real life) teacher and stable practice habits are recommended at each turn.
(with thirty years of practice in the Iyengar teachings, I consider myself a beginner-intermediate. I know enough not to go too far... When in doubt, let your natural breath return without interference (as said in the book))
I find that the hardest thing to determine - the outbreath falls away naturally, but I can sit there until it feels like I'm never going to inhale again, and at no point does it feel like my breath "returns" by itself, but rather I feel like I have to drag it in, while my heartrate spikes.
I have been mildly asthmatic all my life, so maybe that has something to do with it. Incidentally I have often noticed my thoughts become agitated and realised that I'm holding my lungs empty.
Unless you've studied chi kung or pranayama or similar you've no idea what the breath holds in store. It's more than just the mechanics of rate or depth of breathing. You need to learn to relax and engage your attention to really connect with the subtler aspects of it. Energy Work by Robert Bruce is probably the best introduction.
What works for me is harmonious breathing: https://www.harmoniousbreathing.com/ - basically retraining our muscles to enhance deeper more complete breathing. It doesn't claim to make miracles, it just makes you feel better.
Years ago I read that you had to breath out more than you breath in, like "you give more to the world than you take from it". Fine and all but since then I can't help thinking about my breathing and I think it messed up my natural way of breathing.
I can't see any way this is possible. The amount you breathe out is dictated by how much your lung volume increased when you breathe in. If you breathe out for more total time than you breathe in, you are just spreading the same breath over a longer time by restricting outflow.
It really is quite amazing the number of human limits free diving tests. Herbert Nitsch is able to dive over 350 feet deep essentially unaided, and has gone to over 830 feet in what they call a "no limits" attempt, in which weights and fins are allowed, and weight can be dropped to aid in the ascent, although he did suffer from nitrogen narcosis and needed to spend some time in a decompression chamber . He can hold his breath for over 9 minutes, whereas I can barely make it to 1 minute. The guy's lung capacity must be incredible.
WSJ is the one source continually linked here that I CAN'T read. I guess it helps that I have NYT and WaPo subscriptions, but somehow, the other paywalls don't seem to be an issue in the way that WSJ is.
Yoga seems 'spiritual' with wonky crystal powers and such but if you approach it as scheduled ergonomic stretching, relaxation through breathing exercises, and quiet introspection its obvious there's a clear physical impact it can make.