SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION OF SOMA BREATH
How does learning to breath more optimally using Soma Breath techniques offer such amazing healing benefits to the body? It can seem strange that we have the ability to change the way we breathe for more efficient respiration and better health and vitality. But it makes sense on a biological level! Below, we’ll introduce you to the science of breathing and SOMA Breath.
The Process of Respiration
Respiration involves the inhalation of a mixture of oxygen (O2) and other molecular gases and the exhalation of a mixture of carbon dioxide (CO₂) and other gaseous molecules. Breathing in increases your heart rate slightly, while breathing out lowers it slightly. The process of respiration, interestingly enough, also has implications for the body’s metabolism as well.
As you breathe in, oxygen (O₂) binds with red blood cells present in the capillaries (small blood vessels) of the lungs. The oxygenated blood then travels through the bloodstream to supply tissues and cells with oxygen. Once the oxygenated blood reaches the mitochondria inside the body cells, the oxygen combines with glucose to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) or more simply known as, energy. This reaction powers the body system and provides the energy needed for daily function. By-products like water vapour (H₂O) and carbon dioxide, which are exhaled, are also produced from this reaction.
The Circulatory System’s Involvement in Respiration
The circulatory system provides a means for oxygen delivery to mitochondria within cells in order to continue producing energy to sustain the body. It also allows the means of eliminating cellular waste such as carbon dioxide from the body. The circulation of the blood through the body is powered by the pumping action of the heart, which pulses blood through the veins and arteries of the body.
The Importance of Balancing the Breath
If you are not getting adequate oxygen via your breath, the mitochondria, which power the body cells, will begin to fail. On the other hand, excess oxygen in the blood can also cause negative effects to the body system by causing oxidative stress. This phenomenon occurs when the free radicals and antioxidants in the body system are not balanced, leading to tissue and cell damage. This means that the body cells need just the right balance of oxygen to function efficiently.
Your Breath and the Autonomic Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system is made up of the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. It regulates bodily functions like pupil dilation, heart rate, and saliva production. In other words, it controls many bodily processes without any voluntary action on your part.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are however influenced by our breathing. The sympathetic nervous system is stimulated when you inhale, energizing the body, while the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated when you exhale, promoting relaxation. The continuous process of inhalation and exhalation keeps these two systems balanced. The faster you breathe, the faster you take in oxygen and remove CO2, thereby stimulating sympathetic nerves, and invigorating your body.
Conversely, breathing in slowly with extended exhalation can cause an increase in the amount of CO2 and a reduction of O2 in the body, which results in the dilation of the blood vessels. This phenomenon is known as vasodilation, and it happens when the blood pressure drops with an increase in blood flow. In essence, the breath is what controls how fast or slow these processes occur and how efficiently we use the energy in our bodies.
How Inefficient Breathing Affects Your Body
Breathing is an unconscious action that is not taught nor trained when we come into this world. Stress, illnesses and the hustle of every day can cause us to unknowingly adopt variable, ineffective breathing patterns which do not support our health and put you in a state of oxidative stress. At times, you may even unconsciously pause your breathing. The way we breath affects many bodily processes and even influences the rhythm at which our heart beats.
Incoherent breathing activates the sympathetic nervous system and can cause an inefficiency in our cellular machinery and bodily function. Breathing in too much oxygen at a time can cause oxidative stress which can be thought of as the rusting of the arteries and veins. Just like oxygen reacts with metal causing corrosion over time, so too does excessive oxidation of our cells. Excessive oxygen in the red blood cells leads to inflammation, plaque and corrosion which complicates the natural order of respiration. Oxidative stress can stem from excessive exercise and doing too many strenuous physical activities that cause you to breathe erratically as well.
Additionally, oxidative stress increases the amount of free radicals in your system. Free radicals attack proteins and DNA, causing tissue damage, inflammation and death of cells. Oxidative stress has also been implicated as a cause of neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and autoimmune medical conditions. Some studies also show that inefficient respiration also precedes mental conditions such as depression, low mood and lack of motivation.
This process is synonymous to the oxidation of some metals when exposed to air which causes rusting. In the same way, the human body can stop working efficiently leading to inflammation and damage of cells. This is why the conscious control of the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream through inhalation and exhalation can be beneficial to the body system.
The Balance of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide
The Bohr effect is known as the lowering of blood pH caused by high CO2 concentration. This lowering of pH of the blood enables the hemoglobin molecule to release the oxygen attached to it. This effect is what allows the mitochondria to receive the oxygen needed to create ATP energy.
In contrast, when your body is under oxidative stress due to hyperventilation or excessive breathing, there is too little CO2 in the cells to facilitate the release of oxygen from the hemoglobin. This, in turn, results in low production of ATP energy which helps the body system function normally. Therefore, the brief presence of CO2 in the body before exhalation serves an important purpose.
SOMA Breath is aimed at helping you by giving you the tools and techniques to breathe more efficiently and with more awareness. The power of learning to control and balance your breath for consistent production of ATP energy will allow you to feel more vibrant and more productive every day and help to ward off disease caused by oxidative stress. Experience the energizing and relaxing effects of Soma Breath and develop resilience from day-to-day stressors for better overall health, wellness and longevity. Unlock your body’s natural healing potential with Soma Breath.
You can also become a certified breathwork instructor with our breathwork teacher training and help your clients experience rapid and lasting transformation.