To Breathe or to Breathe Fully, LFSB

Intense Seated Forward Bend
This pose is great for taking breath into the backside of the body. Even so, there must still be breath going into the front side of our body as well.

Breathing exercises, that utilize long, full, slow breaths (LFSB), provide benefits that enhance the gains obtained from conventional, western exercise. LFSB, as is encouraged through the practice of yoga, tai chi or meditation, allows for maximum oxygenation of the blood and the ensuing, corresponding development and exhalation of carbon dioxide. During exercise, the actions of skeletal muscles, and associated physiological processes, require that fresh oxygen (O2) constantly replace carbon dioxide (CO2) in the lungs. O2 supplies fuel for the bodily processes that supply energy.

Some of the benefits of LFSB include:

  • Slows the heart rate – the heart rate slows when the parasympatheric nervous system is operating.
  • Full diaphragmatic breathing increases the ratio of O2:CO2. Normal inhalations result in a 1:1 ratio. Full diaphragmatic inhalations create a 5:1 ratio. Thus, more O2 can be absorbed into the blood.
  • Normalizes blood CO2 levels – full exhalations facilitate CO2 build up in the blood. This triggers and facilitates maximal uptake of O2 from the following inhalation.
  • Reduces blood pressure – Dilation of venous-blood vessels decreases venous-blood pressure. This allows a slower heart rate and more efficient blood flow/O2 transfer.
  • Reduces stress – Breathing deep, full inhalations and exhalations, synchronizes CO2/O2 blood levels and produces a natural autonomic relaxing effect.
  • Increases the health of lung tissue – The lungs are completely expanded and contracted during deep breathing. This maintains the elasticity of the lungs, especially as we age.
A very relaxing pose. Good for relieving tension in the ankles and for taking breath into the front of the body.
This pose requires hip flexor length and good opening in the knees. It is a great pose for allowing breath into the front of the body.

Conventional exercise (Running, Tennis, Basketball, Weightlifting, Gymnastics, Aerobics) focuses on developing (1) the external muscles and (2) the body’s ability to make O2 consistently available in the presence of an O2 debt. In a totally complementary manner, LFSB exercises help develop the ability to fully expand the lungs, which is beneficial for maximal absorption of O2 into the lungs and into the body and contract the lungs, which exhausts CO2 from the lungs and increases blood CO2 concentration. LFSB exercises also provide a natural massage for the internal organs which has a beneficial and rejuvenating effect on the physical, physiological and psychological processes. This can greatly benefit the vigorous exerciser.

LFSB training is a methodology. It can shift the autonomic nervous system away from fight or flight (sympathetic) mode into a more relaxed state (parasympathetic). LFSB inhalations and exhalations have ‘been shown to positively affect immune function, hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress-related disorders‘ (Jerath et al., 2006). Jerath and colleagues add that investigations, regarding stress and psychological improvements, support evidence that deep, full breathing alters the brain’s information processing, making it an intervention that improves a person’s psychological profile.

intense twisting posture from a standing position. Ground through the rear foot and initiate the rotation from the rear ankle, rotating the rear leg outer hip down toward the ground and spiraling the torso.

LFSB exercises can enhance the benefits gained from vigorous exercise. The physical aspect of western exercise is good for muscle strengthening and development of aerobic capacity. LFSB practice benefits the body on the physical, physiological and psychological levels. Studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of LFSB. Breathing to finish that mile run is good; breathing fully to assist the body in processing O2 more efficiently will provide long lasting effects throughout one,s life.

Some techniques that can be employed to develop one’s LFSB capacity is to breath full inhalations and full exhalations at a rate of 4 breaths per minute. As one’s ability improves, the rate can go to 3 breaths per minute, then 2 breaths per minute, and then one breath per minute. This practice should not exceed a period of 15 minutes and should be done no more than twice per day.

Please consult your physician before attempting any of these practices.

Happy Breathing


Yoga and Health, Yesudian and Haich, Harper and Row; pg 67

Take a deep breath today . . . for the rest of your life.

These are the directions that the breath can actually extend to throughout the body.
Where is your breath.

And the Lord GOD formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Gen. 2:7

In today’s society, there is little time to experience anything other than the rush of rushing. As we run from here to there and from there to here, the sense of connectedness to one’s self is lost. The act of rushing becomes one of normalcy. As rushing becomes more ingrained into our hectic routines, we do not take out time to even catch our breath. I would dare surmise that few of us even realize what comprises full and complete diaphragmatic breathing

Breath and breathing fully is the birthright of every human on the planet. Yet, as Esau sold his birthright for a mere bowl of food, many of us have tossed aside the fullness of our breath capacity for other things that we deem to be important: i.e. – tight-fitting clothes, developing poor posture, holding in our stomachs, etc. What could be more important than breathing consciously and fully? What could be more important that taking in the energy laden air that animates our bodies down to the very organelles of every cell?

Most of us are not aware of our poor breathing habits. The quality of our breathing can either bolster or restrict the quality of our life. The consequences of poor, incomplete and inadequate breathing can range from headaches to heart disease and sundry common maladies in between. Many people do not understand how they routinely impose restrictions and distortions upon their breathing. For example, habitually breathing high into the chest, breathing shallowly and breathing too fast are grossly endemic today. A trained eye need not be employed to grasp the extent of these patterns in ourselves and others: tight bodies, tight belts, tight schedules and the like are leaving us ‘breathless’.

This need not be the case. Bad breathing does not have to exist on the endemic level that it now does. Although we may be breathing poorly and inadequately 24 hours a day, 365 day a year, respiratory actions are completely malleable. Breathing is involuntary which is part and parcel of why many of us breathe badly. Breathing is also voluntary. Respiratory action and the associated musculatures are controlled by somatic motor neurons. As we give more awareness to posture and breath, we can bring more life-sustaining energy into our bodies and thereby circumvent many of the complications that can result from breathing poorly.

The most direct physical manifestation of the presence of and connection to GOD that all humans can experience is the fullness of the breath (Read Gen. 2:7). We need not stumble around wondering if GOD is present in our lives. We have a daily reminder with us, at all times . . . all we need to do is breath.