What is it you do constantly to keep you alive? I will give you a hint, it is something you have been doing since you came into the world and, it will be the last thing you do when you leave the world? You don’t give a second thought and if you do it a certain way, it will increase the growth, function and performance of your brain! Ok, so you have probably guessed it is ‘breathing’ and you know that it is crucial because your body needs oxygen to survive.
Did you realise that you breathe in 432 litres of oxygen everyday? And, your brain uses 3 times as much oxygen as the muscles in your body do. Your brain cells, also known as neurons are very sensitive to the amount of oxygen.
Neurons can only survive 3 minutes without oxygen, after that they start to die. So it is vital that you oxygenate those neurons consistently, because not only will it keep them alive but it will also promote brain healing, growth and use.
You can increase the amount of oxygen to the brain with your breathing and when you do this, you increase your brain’s function and performance. We were all meant to breathe through the nose, with the mouth closed. When you breathe in through the nose, from the diaphragm, you move air and oxygen down to the areas of your lungs where most of the circulating blood is.
Oxygen that is inhaled, is passed onto to the blood stream, the blood is then transported to the brain by the pumping action of the heart and ultimately reaches the neurons in your brain, as well as all the cells in other parts of your body.
It is a different story if you breathe through the mouth, as this prevents you from rebreathing the stored carbon dioxide and nitric oxide that is necessary to circulate blood to the brain and consequently oxygenate all those neurons. It is the carbon dioxide and nitric oxide that open up the blood vessels in the brain so you can receive the proper levels of oxygen in your brain.
Breathing through your nose, with the diaphragm muscle, really will allow the proper amounts of oxygen into your blood to be transported to your brain and the rest of your body.
Apart from breathing through your nose with your mouth closed, there is one simple thing you can do to increase the amount of oxygen to your brain and, that is to go for short walks throughout the day. Whilst runs are good too, they will cause your muscles to absorb too much oxygen, so short frequent walks are better for increasing the amount of oxygen to your brain and increasing the brains function and performance.
The Buteyko Method focuses on breathing through the nose and here is a quick demonstration.