If you want to learn nostril breathing, performance researcher John Douillard recommends that you concentrate on the exhalation by constricting the throat slightly, which means you’ll make what he describes as “a Darth Vader-like snoring sound” as the air is slowly released. This forces your lungs to empty, and allows your torso to expand naturally from the diaphragm. When you inhale, your lower abdominal area will fill with air first, then your lower rib cage and finally your upper chest, much as a glass fills with water, from the bottom up.
Start slowly. It might feel as though you’re suffocating at first. “The thing that puts people off is that when you start doing aerobic activity with your mouth shut, you feel as though you’re not getting enough air. But all that means is that your body is deconditioned,” says mind-body consultant Annie Benton, who uses nostril breathing in her own running, cycling and weight training. “it’s as if you’ve always brushed your teeth with your toothbrush in your right hand, and suddenly you have to start doing it with your left. You need to reverse years of breathing backwards.”
Be patient. “I went from a seven-minute mile down to a nine-minute mile trying to get the breathing under control,” says ski instructor Robyn Richards. “And it took me probably six months to get back to a seven-minute mile. I didn’t go cold turkey either. There were times when I’d be running up a hill gasping because I hadn’t mastered getting that oxygen through my nose. You have to be willing to take one step at a time.”
Don’t force it. Douillard’s advice is that you start your workouts with a stretching exercise that opens and loosens the rib cage–the yoga sequence called the Sun Salutation, for instance. Then exercise at a low level of intensity for 10 or 15 minutes, pausing occasionally and never pushing your breathing above a comfortable rate that you can sustain.
Then you can begin pushing the limit upward. If you reach a point at which you can’t continue breathing through your nose, back off–and always keep your breathing controlled.
It’s been six months since I last saw my husband and I can’t wait to be with him again. He is set to come home a couple of weeks from now. I still have time to do some skin tag removal before his arrival. I have hanging skin on my face and it just looks so awful. I think I got it when I gained weight. I am sure that my husband will not be happy to see them. When he left, he even reminded me how lovely I was. He adored my skin to a great extent that having skin tags now will surely disappoint him. One of my friends asked me to remove it by cutting it off using sterile scissors. But I think I cannot bear its pain. I am afraid it can also lead to infection which might only make the situation worse. I am planning to consult with a dermatologist one of these days. I think skin doctors are the only people I should trust when it comes to removing skin tags. I’ll ask the doctor how to prevent it from coming back. Maybe he has some tips to give on how to put a stop to skin tag formation.
I was in search for a product to help me do away with skin tags when I accidentally came across a website that talks about products designed to treat this skin condition. I am really thankful for having seen this website. I was actually planning to use scissors to cut off my skin tags. But upon reading the details of these products, I came to realize that it is safer to just use these topical solutions instead of treating my skin tags using scissors. These are products that are manufactured by distinguished companies. Most of these items are composed of ingredients derived from plants. This is an assurance that anyone who will apply this on areas where there are skin tags will not experience undesirable effects from it. In fact, many established medical practitioners recommend these products to sufferers of skin tags. I have been suffering from this condition for several months already. At first, I was not bothered by it. But when it started multiplying, I decided to take action to remove it. Now, I have more knowledge on how to remove skin tags. I am pretty sure that in the next few weeks, my skin will be finally free from hanging skin.
Online Tips on Skin Tag Removal
The internet can present you with a number of tips on how to remove skin tags. However, you have to be careful which online references you will give your trust to. It is advised to learn about possible reasons why you develop skin tags before you take on any skin tag removal. Based on studies, some people have skin tags because they abruptly gained weight. In case you notice that you gained weight and you are certain that it’s the reason behind the emergence of hanging tags on your skin, then you should make losing weight a part of your skin tag removal goal. You can have this done by observing a healthy lifestyle, including eating the right food and engaging in regular physical exercises. Through online shops, you can avail of wonderful products that are formulated to treat skin tags. Go for skin tag products of which components are not harsh to the skin. These are items made of organic ingredients. Look for product reviews on skin tag removal items to see the pros and cons of the item that you are eyeing for. Join in forums or online community boards to learn how your fellow skin tag sufferers were able to free their skin from ugly tags.
Five years ago Joanne Arnold Madden, a second-place finisher in the 1989 Ms. America bodybuilding contest, had literally exercised herself to exhaustion. She spent long hours in the gym, popped painkillers and muscle relaxants as if they were candy, and found the “zone”–the exercise high that kicks in when mind and body are completely integrated and performance flows almost effortlessly–ever more elusive.
“I threw in the towel,” admits the 38-year-old resident of Maine, a former Ms. Maine and Ms. Natural New England and the mother of three. “For years I’d gotten titles, but I’d been beating the hell out of my body. I couldn’t continue, knowing that I was fundamentally destroying what I’d tried to build. I wanted to train, but I didn’t want to have to pay the price of fatigue, injury and exhaustion.”
Although she doesn’t compete anymore, Madden is still very active, counting tennis, cycling, swimming and weight training among her physical pursuits. But she no longer stresses her body to do them. Her resting heart rate has dropped from 75 to 42, and her working heart rate never exceeds 120 beats per minute (a figure she used to exceed by merely walking). Yet she’s as strong and well defined as ever. She rarely tires or pulls a muscle, and what’s more, says this athlete who knows what it is to exercise hard, her workouts are “blissful.”
What caused such a transformation? The answer is something so basic that it seems almost absurd: Madden finally learned how to breathe.
Breathing is a skill everyone knows, right? That’s what most people think, and that’s why it’s been an often-ignored aspect of training. But take a deep breath. Did you open your mouth? Was your chest the only thing that moved? Then you could probably use a lesson, too, says John Douillard, a licensed chiropractor and former professional triathlete who runs the holistic mind-body-health-and-fitness center, John Douillard’s LifeSpa in Boulder, Colorado. Don’t feel bad; you’re in illustrious company. Tennis pro Martina Navratilova, former world-class cyclist Davis Phinney, even the Philadelphia Eagles football players, have trained themselves to breathe more deeply in order to improve their performance.
Yogic breathing–deep diaphragmatic breathing in which you inhale and exhale through the nose–is quietly blowing into mainstream athletics. Long recognized as the energy force behind meditation and some of the martial arts, it’s now being touted for its usefulness in more vigorous activities like running, aerobics, weight lifting and cycling. Proponents such as Douillard say it can result in greater endurance, more focus and fewer injuries. He himself has given breath training to athletes like Navratilova, Madden, world-champion triathlete Colleen Cannon, professional mountain biker John Weissenrieder and the N.Y. Mets’ Brent Mayne.
It seems an unlikely marriage at first glance, this union between New Age yogis and hard-core athletes, but it serves as yet another example of the incursions mind-body awareness has made into the health arena during the past few years. “There’s been this Cain-and-Abel relationship between conventional fitness people and the so-called mind-body practitioners, but a merging of the two is occurring,” says Annie Benton, a mind-body fitness consultant in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who trains fitness instructors in yoga techniques. “Slowly but surely, people are recognizing the benefits of incorporating different modalities into their training.”
One reason breathing through the nose may be beneficial during exercise, according to yoga experts, is that oxygen is pulled more deeply into the lungs this way. It’s thought that since the lower lobes of the lungs contain more blood and offer greater potential for oxygen exchange (and since oxygen, as we all know, is the main source of fuel for muscles during exercise), athletes who use nostril breathing won’t need to work as hard to perform at the same level, will take longer to produce blood lactate, and won’t tire or hurt their muscles as readily.
Since the 1980s Douillard has been collecting “thousands” of studies and testimonials like Madden’s–accounts of cases in which people have reduced their maximum breath rates from an average of 50 to 80 per minute to an average of 12 to 18, and who have lowered their heart rates by some 10 to 20 beats per minute. One 38-year-old client, for example, ran a marathon during which he logged six-minute miles and maintained a heart rate of just 125 beats per minute under conditions that would bring most runners’ heart rates closer to 180. Professional mountain biker John Weissenrieder says he upped his power output by 10 percent, decreased his heart rate by six beats per minute and took only 18 breaths a minute at most.
Catch the Wave
Another benefit of nostril breathing, say those who do it, is an extraordinary sense of well-being and relaxation, the sensation of being in the zone, every time they exercise. That, explains Douillard, is because yogic breathing triggers neurological impulses in the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, and these create a “calming, rejuvenative” response. He measured the impulses, which show up as alpha waves, in a study of 10 high-school runners who had completed approximately 12 weeks of his training program. “Everybody produced significantly more alpha in the brain,” he says. “It was a powerful study. We looked back 50 years in the research to find other studies that produced alpha in the brain during exercise with the eyes open, and there were none.”
In contrast, shallow chest breathing during exercise stimulates the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight mechanism, which causes the body to react as if it is in a state of emergency and produces a buildup of stress chemicals like adrenaline and lactic acid. “That’s why 80 percent of the people in America don’t like exercise,” says Douillard. “Their bodies are responding to what they perceive to be an emergency, and that’s an uncomfortable feeling.”
“I’m in the zone every time I exercise; I don’t feel as though I’m doing anything, and yet I keep having more and more energy,” says Peter Rennert, a tennis instructor and former world top-10 doubles player who began using the nostril-breathing technique with Douillard’s help two years ago. “And I know I’m going to reach that state–there’s no mystery about it. In my career I felt I was in the zone maybe five times, and when I did, I wouldn’t shave, change my hat, use a different racquet–I chalked it all up to superstition.” Now sold on the yogic breathing, he teaches it in his tennis lessons at Miraval, a resort and spa in Tucson, Arizona.
Nostril breathing has its devotees, but there are also skeptics. So far the benefits of the technique haven’t been documented in controlled studies accepted by the traditional scientific community, and exercise physiologists question whether it can supply enough oxygen during very intense bouts of activity. One recent Australian study published in the professional journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, for example, showed that individuals could work closer to their maximum degree of effort and could take in more air if they breathed through the mouth rather than the nose. “Because of the sheer resistance of the nasal passages, it would be difficult to get enough volume of air into the lungs to sustain high-intensity exercise,” explains Melinda Sheffield-Moore, M.A., an exercise physiologist and doctoral fellow at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University. The rule of thumb in conventional sports medicine these days centers on encouraging athletes to use whatever method works best for them, typically a combination of mouth and nose breathing.
Exercise physiologist and psychobiologist Ralph LaForge, M.S., who chairs the IDEA Mind-Body Fitness Committee, an international consortium of professionals specializing in mind-body fitness, is among the unconvinced. Although, he says, “deeper, more controlled breathing, including nostril breathing, would relax you during moderate exercise and possibly could increase your capacity for distance or endurance,” he questions whether it’s possible to take enough air in through the nose to sustain an effort beyond 60 to 80 percent of maximum lactate (anaerobic) threshold. Even so, he recently began experimenting with nostril breathing during his own long-distance runs. Because nostril breathing warms and moistens air before it enters the lungs, he noticed an improvement in his exercise induced asthma.
“It’s just a matter of conditioning,” argues Douillard, whose training program is based on Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine that focuses on bringing the body into balance with nature. Nostril breathing can be maintained even at competitive levels, he says, but only after the body has learned to adapt to the new way of breathing–it requires a scale back in training time and intensity at first. “It takes anywhere from a week to three months before an athlete really starts to open those lower lobes of the lungs and reeducate his or her body to breathe more efficiently.” Swimming, he adds, is the only activity that requires inhalation through the mouth.
Closed Mouths–or Closed Minds?
Douillard and his clients aren’t the only ones who are seeing positive effects from nostril breathing during exercise. Other athletes and yoga experts have come to similar conclusions about potential performance enhancement. The Philadelphia Eagles’ peak-performance specialist, Baron Baptiste, teaches many of his players power yoga, which involves the breathing and many of the postures of traditional yoga but couples them with more vigorous movements. He uses this as a cross-training activity that helps his charges condition their bodies to process oxygen more efficiently, and also as a pregame warm-up and midgame recovery technique that relaxes and loosens their muscles. Breath control, says Baptiste, a yoga trainer who has worked with such athletes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Herschel Walker and who runs the Power Yoga Institute near Philadelphia, is crucial to improved athletic performance. “For athletes oxygen is the most important fuel, and having control over their breathing allows them to economize their energy so they won’t get fatigued or winded as easily.”
But whether deep breathing is too difficult to sustain at the highest intensities or whether old habits merely die hard remains to be seen. Cyclist Davis Phinney says he can use it only at a moderate pace, and Baptiste reports that his players may revert to the old way of breathing during intense effort. “You have athletes who have been performing a certain way their whole lives, and when they’re under incredible amounts of physical pressure, their bodies are going to demand that they use their mouths to breath so they can take in enough air.” But once the pressure drops a little, he adds, deep breathing can help them recover quickly.
It’s also true that an inward focus on the breath goes against the traditional grain of exercise and athletic training. Yogic breathing forces you to listen to your body instead of gauging its condition with external tools like heart monitors and clocks and that often means slowing down at first. Ironically, those who have mastered it say they can reach and even surpass the level of performance they taxed their bodies to achieve before.
“If I wasn’t hurting at the end of a race, I didn’t think I’d done it right,” says 42-year-old ski instructor Robyn Richards of Lake Oswego, Oregon, recalling her days as a college sprinter. “I’d be barely able to catch my breath or walk. But it’s a totally different feeling now. I’m still running at the seven-minute-mile pace the way I did before, but I’m never winded; I keep my heart rate down at about 120, compared with 180 to 240; and I feel refreshed when I’m done.”
Richards, who first trained with Douillard about three years ago, uses nostril breathing not only for running (she clocks about seven miles a day and competes in 10Ks and 15Ks) but also for cycling, skiing and rock climbing. “Even the thinner oxygen at higher altitudes comes into your body better when you’re inhaling and exhaling through your nose. The elevation in McCall, Idaho, is over a mile, for example, but when I’m running there I have happy lungs.”
Joanne Madden believes that by reducing the wear and tear on her body, the yogic breathing she’s learned will help her maintain an active lifestyle for a long time to come. “The injuries I used to get were from overzealous behavior–pulling too much at the wrong time, pushing too much at the wrong time,” she explains. “The body had no input, basically. This technique really allows me to pay attention to the whole body that I’m supposed to be building.”
Yogis have long claimed that the breath is the bridge between the body and the mind. If this is true, conscious breathing during exercise may well be the key to unlocking physical potential. “We live in a culture where we sever the connection between the body and the mind,” observes Madden. “We never value or trust the body’s input. It’s enchanting to me to think that the field of consciousness, not a new pair of running shoes or a drug or a new technology, could actually be the competitive edge.”
The theory behind qi gong is simple: Because qi is essentially the force behind all life, ensuring its presence will encourage radiant health. A classic qi gong maxim states, “Qi is the mother of blood”: Where qi flows, circulation is ensured. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on this principle; acupuncturists look for excesses or deficiencies of qi and clear blocked channels (known as meridians) throughout the body so that the qi can flow smoothly.
The benefits of qi gong are many. For one thing, practicing qi gong regularly will tone and stretch your muscles, keeping you limber. Qi gong also can have a profound effect on your spirit. In the West, when we talk about things spiritual, we generally mean things that are pure, noble, divine–and intangible. But in China, the word “spirit,” or shen, refers to a physical substance that animates an individual. Thus, increasing one’s shen would produce physical changes. (The equivalent in Western thought of one with great shen might be a “spirited” horse or a person with great drive and animation). Like shen, qi also is thought of as a physical substance. It’s the force that allows us to live life to the fullest–and boosting it also boosts our physical health and well-being.
Five Key Points For Qi Gong
The following routine will take you about twenty minutes. These four exercises, part of a school of qi gong called Nei Jin, or “Internal Force,” are easy to do and can be performed by people of all ages and abilities. They are gentle yet powerful, enduring and far-reaching in their consequences. Regular practice can lead to increased strength, vigor, and energy, a heightened sense of awareness and serenity, and improved balance and coordination.
When I first took up the art of qi gong ten years ago, I was amazed to feel a profound effect in myself after just one session. If you work on these exercises for a month, I’m certain you’ll see dramatic results in yourself as well–in both body and spirit. When practicing your qi gong moves, remember the following:
* Relax. Tense muscles restrict the flow of qi.
* If possible, practice outside or near an open window. Try to use natural sunlight and think of the outside air as nourishment for qi: The fresher it is, the better.
* Be careful of exercising in inclement weather, however. Traditional theory holds that cold or damp air can enter and harm the body through “qi gates” (specific acupuncture points), which open during qi gong practice.
* Avoid meditation during this practice–instead, let your mind be free. Watch the weather report, listen to the news, or plan the upcoming day with your family
* Practice every day preferably in the morning, at the same time. Regularity is one key to success.
Harnessing The Qi
This move is known as Holding the Ball With Two Hands.
From the Horse Stance, cross your arms in front of your body at the wrists, hands facing downward. Then pull your elbows back and toward your body so that the center of your top palm is aligned with the center of the top of your bottom hand. Your hands should be on a level between the solar plexus and the navel with the thumbs about two or three inches from your body.
With a circling movement, turn the bottom up so that it faces the top palm . Inhaling through your nose, draw your hands apart. this is called “Stretching the Qi.” It is important to keep the centers of your palms aligned during this motion.
Now, move your upper hand to forehead level and your lower hand to abdomen level. Hold for a moment. At this point your hands begin their return. Exhaling through your mouth, bring your palms together until they almost touch. This is called “Compressing the Qi.”
When practicing this move, imagine that you feel the resistance of the qi as your hands are move together and apart. By pulling your hands apart along the meridian that runs directly up the center of your body, you stimulate many acupuncture points to promote the circulation of qi and adjust the functions of many organs.
Do ten sets of this move on both sides of the body and then return to the Horse Stance. Hold that pose for five move minutes to complete your name.