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So, what's the big issue with breathing?


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#1    Rolci

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 08:20 PM

My question is quite simple. I'm sure many of you have noticed that a great emphasis is put on the importance of controlled breathing/paying attention to your breathing when carrying out various tasks to do with the mind. Like in practising martial arts, meditating, performing yoga exercises, or just trying to induce some altered state of consciousness e.g. AP or LD etc. etc. But I myself never found any references as to why the way you breathe plays such a crucial role in the outcome of these exercises. Nor have I ever wondered, I just sort of blindly followed the instructions without actually questioning the underlying reasons or logic. I'm not even sure of the nature of that reason. Psychological? Something mystical? Or simply physical? And what exactly is it? To distract our attention from the outside world? Focusing on your heartbeat or the noise of the flowing blood in the blood-vessels in your ears would surely do. There must be something more to this. Anyone got any idea what it could be?


#2    Pelican_Eel

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 09:06 PM

very interesting question!
I don't know, but I'm guessing it has something to do with your will. You can't control your heartbeat or flowing blood (and I don't hear it usually, do you??). By focusing on your breathing you can develope ability to focus on it without controling it...  You're learning to control your body, your emotions. Also, breathing influences heartbeat, thus it influences nerves, emotions, mood, relaxation, everything.
That's my opinion.

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#3    OptimisticSkeptic

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 11:23 PM

I've always assumed it has to do with flooding the brain with oxygen, but in my efforts to enhance my time management skills (no helped at all by this forum, incidentally!) I have been shown that people tend to breathe quickly and shallowly, especially when under stress.  The body responds to slow, controlled breathing by metabolizing and depleting stress hormones even if one is under stress.  It's about the mind controlling what it can of the body and leading to as much control as possible of other bodily processes that can't be directly controlled by the will.  I used to think this was useless mumbo-jumbo, but my experience over the last couple of years has shown me otherwise.

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#4    fylgja

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 11:36 PM

In martial arts your opponents breathing will tell you when he is about to attack, or when you should attack him.


#5    OptimisticSkeptic

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 03:13 PM

fylgja on Feb 10 2008, 05:36 PM, said:

In martial arts your opponents breathing will tell you when he is about to attack, or when you should attack him.



All the more reason to control your own!

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

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#6    SunDogDayze

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 03:56 PM

Good topic...

I think some of it is physical, as deep and controlled breathing allows oxygen to flow evenly to the vital parts of your body. I also think that when people are stressed and are breathing in shallow spurts, it restricts flow to some areas, and weakens the body as a whole.

Some of it is probably psychological as well, I know from experience that concentrating on controlling your breathing takes a bit of mental effort, and can be used to distract from pain (lemaze for childbirthing) or from panic attacks or similar.

I think the only part that could seem mystical is when people hyperventilate themselves on accident, breathing too much or too deep, which can flood the brain with oxygen, giving them an odd sensation, and sometimes even minor hallucinations.


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#7    Neognosis

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 04:16 PM

Quote

I also think that when people are stressed and are breathing in shallow spurts, it restricts flow to some areas, and weakens the body as a whole.

Some of it is probably psychological as well, I know from experience that concentrating on controlling your breathing takes a bit of mental effort, and can be used to distract from pain (lemaze for childbirthing) or from panic attacks or similar.


I agree. I also would add that when in a situation where panic is imminent, restoring the proper oxygen levels and reverting to a concentration on a fundamental life function helps prevent panic, both from a psychological and physiological standpoint.


#8    RileySmiley

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 07:55 PM

In martial arts breathing and cardio is critical.  When I first started competing in MMA at my studio I could hardly last two rounds sparring,  I would be so out of breath my arms would be useless and I would just take punches, lol.  If you can't control your breathing and get enough air your body is useless.  The stronger your cardio and lungs are, the more oxygen that is transmitted to your muscles and mind, for clearer thinking, reaction time, and strength.  Which is why you see kickboxers that are skinny and lean... Not huge football player type bodybuilders.  Speed and breathing are key.  That... and.. the more you weigh, the easier you are to knock out... it has to do with fat in the lining of your skull, the more body weight, the more fat in the lining of your skull.. When your brain is jarred by a punch, you go unconscious as soon as it smacks the lining of your skull, or, all that fatness you've built up from eating twinkies and steaks.

  Without oxygen you are useless in whatever physical task you are doing, no matter how large you are, go running every other day and stay in shape.




#9    SunDogDayze

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 08:34 PM

I forgot to mention this earlier, and I will have to try and find the link, but I recently read about a little boy who is in the 5th grade. He is AWESOME at basketball, his coordination is inhuman, and he can do things like dribble 2 balls between his legs while he is running without looking at them. He also can run the mile in about 4 minutes, which is wayyyy faster than any other 10 year olds mile time.

They checked him out, and he has some kind of deformity, I think it's in the capillaries in his lungs if I remember correctly, which means his body can pull much more oxygen from the lungs and push it through the rest of his body much faster than the rest of us. I will try to find the video and post it.

But that's an example of how crucial someone's breathing can be to the activities they are trying to perform...


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#10    RileySmiley

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 08:47 PM

SunDogDayze on Feb 11 2008, 09:34 PM, said:

I forgot to mention this earlier, and I will have to try and find the link, but I recently read about a little boy who is in the 5th grade. He is AWESOME at basketball, his coordination is inhuman, and he can do things like dribble 2 balls between his legs while he is running without looking at them. He also can run the mile in about 4 minutes, which is wayyyy faster than any other 10 year olds mile time.

They checked him out, and he has some kind of deformity, I think it's in the capillaries in his lungs if I remember correctly, which means his body can pull much more oxygen from the lungs and push it through the rest of his body much faster than the rest of us. I will try to find the video and post it.

But that's an example of how crucial someone's breathing can be to the activities they are trying to perform...


That is such an awesome deformity, he'll never get sick, as bacteria, fungus, and viral infections are prevented with oxygen.  



#11    SunDogDayze

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 09:01 PM

RileySmiley on Feb 11 2008, 03:47 PM, said:

That is such an awesome deformity, he'll never get sick, as bacteria, fungus, and viral infections are prevented with oxygen.


Yeah, it was pretty funny, the video was like a little news story somewhere, and the newscaster calls him a freak of nature lol.

He is, I guess, but I was thinking more along the lines of hyper-evolved or something. They say in the video that it is genetic, so I guess it's more of like a mutation of some gene somewhere. Found the link, it's pretty cool.

Here's the video about the freak of nature kid. original.gif

By the way, tell me he isn't so smug looking in some of those shots. You can almost hear him saying "yeah i know, im the man!" original.gif

Edited by SunDogDayze, 11 February 2008 - 09:01 PM.


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#12    Rolci

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 09:51 PM

VERY intriguing video indeed. And thx 4 all the invaluable contributions so far. This IS a good topic! grin2.gif


#13    nosaM

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 10:44 PM

I do know that in Kung-Fu controlled breathing before a fight is said to help focus you energy twoards the task at hand, and to focus your mind.

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#14    Rolci

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 11:08 PM

Not looking at martial arts now, but the rest, why is it generally so important to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth trying to push the air through a narrow gap? Sometimes it's the other way around. Does that really make a difference? It's just oxygen... Maybe through controlling your breathing in more details gets you in the practice of controlling your mind more? And especially why hold your breath for a few seconds after inhaling? You'd need to get rid of the CO2 quickly so you can take another fresh breath. What's that pause for?

Edited by Rolci, 12 February 2008 - 11:11 PM.


#15    gary5023

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 04:30 AM

Rolci on Feb 10 2008, 09:20 PM, said:

My question is quite simple. I'm sure many of you have noticed that a great emphasis is put on the importance of controlled breathing/paying attention to your breathing when carrying out various tasks to do with the mind. Like in practising martial arts, meditating, performing yoga exercises, or just trying to induce some altered state of consciousness e.g. AP or LD etc. etc. But I myself never found any references as to why the way you breathe plays such a crucial role in the outcome of these exercises. Nor have I ever wondered, I just sort of blindly followed the instructions without actually questioning the underlying reasons or logic. I'm not even sure of the nature of that reason. Psychological? Something mystical? Or simply physical? And what exactly is it? To distract our attention from the outside world? Focusing on your heartbeat or the noise of the flowing blood in the blood-vessels in your ears would surely do. There must be something more to this. Anyone got any idea what it could be?

The Yogis of India discovered thousands of years ago that there is a direct and specific correlation between the breath and ones mental state. The more restless and ragged the breathing, the more restless the mind. To the degree  one is able to calm and focus the breath, to that degree will one be able to calm and focus ones thought, which is invaluable in any number of disciplines, and especially so regarding meditation, which is concentration turned inward. This is explained very lucidly in' Autobiography of a Yogi.'





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