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Just Breathe

By Dr. Joe Manza DC, CACCP - Webster's Friendly Neighborhood Chiropractor



Sounds silly to say that, right? Breathing is built into our normal physiology. For normal everyday life, breathing is just something we do; we don’t even need to think about it. Or do we? I do have a tendency to hold my breath when I’m watching Jaws (1975). Even though I know, I need to remind myself that I’m not the one underwater being chomped on by Bruce the mechanical Great White shark.

Now replace Bruce with any situation that may create negative or anxious feelings and you’ll likely find yourself holding your breathe… without even noticing it.

On a basic level, breathing exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide, which is obviously important for our health. But what about on a deeper level? If you’ve ever been in a yoga or Pilates class, you’ll know breathing serves a greater purpose than just gas exchange. If you’ve ever sought out psychological help, you’ll know breathing is an important component of therapy. Do I even need to mention giving birth? But why, and what are the deeper benefits of breathing with intention and purpose?

Purposeful breathing techniques help regulate several different body processes, such as heart rate variability and body systems, including our complex nervous system. Our nervous system has several components to it, and the ones we may be most familiar with are the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. These two branches control our “fight/flight” and “rest/digest” responses, respectively. For us mere mortals to express optimal health and wellness, we need to maintain the delicate balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches.

With worries over finances, sickness, war, work, and you name it, the balance between these arms of our nervous system is greatly skewed to the point where we become more sympathetically dominant. This sympathetic dominance keeps our body running on empty and leads to more stress and sickness – poor overall health. Balance must be brought back to the nervous system. Along with specific Chiropractic adjustments (which is a topic for another time), breathing exercises will absolutely help us regain and maintain a balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.

While breathing has a profound impact upon our body’s physiology, our mind also greatly benefits from purposeful breathing techniques. People become more peaceful as anger may be managed with breathing techniques. As summer quickly draws to a close, our children are facing higher levels of anxiety with all that comes along with going back to school; breathing exercises will help lessen their anxiousness… maybe yours, too.

If you are looking to create or enhance your health, then you’ll want to learn how to consciously control your breathing. Sure, it takes a bit of practice to get good at it, but the health benefits are absolutely worth your time and effort.

Oh, and another perk of breathing exercises… they’re free. Click this link: Deep Breathing Exercises & Techniques for Stress Management and Relief (webmd.com) to try some great breathing exercises. Word of caution: I would stay away from the Modified Lion if you have jaw issues.



Dr. Joe Manza DC, CACCP runs a chiropractic office located in the Village of Webster.

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