Research

Harvard Health Publishing July 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response

Slow, deep, regular breathing is a sign of relaxation. You can learn to control your respirations so they mimic relaxation; the effect, in fact, will be relaxing.

Here’s how deep breathing exercises work:

1. Breathe in slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out so that your diaphragm is put to maximal use.

2. Hold your breath briefly.

3. Exhale slowly, thinking “relax.”

4. Repeat the entire sequence five to 10 times, concentrating on breathing deeply and slowly.

Deep breathing is easy to learn. You can do it at any time, in any place. You can use deep breathing to help dissipate stress as it occurs. Practice the routine in advance; then use it when you need it most. If you find it helpful, consider repeating the exercise four to six times a day — even on good days.

Progressive muscular relaxation

Stressed muscles are tight, tense muscles. By learning to relax your muscles, you will be able to use your body to dissipate stress.

Muscle relaxation takes a bit longer to learn than deep breathing. It also takes more time. But even if this form of relaxation takes a little effort, it can be a useful part of your stress control program. Here’s how it works:

Progressive muscle relaxation is best performed in a quiet, secluded place. You should be comfortably seated or stretched out on a firm mattress or mat. Until you learn the routine, have a friend recite the directions or listen to them on a tape, which you can pre record yourself.

Progressive muscle relaxation focuses sequentially on the major muscle groups. Tighten each muscle and maintain the contraction 20 seconds before slowly releasing it. As the muscle relaxes, concentrate on the release of tension and the sensation of relaxation. Start with your facial muscles, then work down the body.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/15628572/

Effect of dynamic strength training on insulin sensitivity in men with insulin resistance].
Hejnová J, et al. Cas Lek Cesk. 2004.
Show full citation
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Physical activity is generally accepted as a part of the nonpharmacological therapy of the insulin resistance. Endurance training is generally recommended as an appropriate approach. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of three-month dynamic strength training on the insulin sensitivity in middle-aged men with insulin resistance.

METHODS AND RESULTS: 10 men (5 obese non diabetics and 5 overweight patients with diabetes mellitus type 2 (age 51.36+/-7.25 years, average weight 110.16+/-13.56 kg and BMI 33.22+/-3.52 kg/m2 underwent a three-month dynamic strength training at the level of 60 to 70 % of their maximum muscle strength (one-repetition maximum 1-RM). Insulin sensitivity was determined using the hyperinsulinic euglycemic clamp before and after the training period. Training promoted to increase the muscle strength (p<0.001). It did not induce changes in body weight, body composition and maximum aerobic capacity. The training induced an increase in insulin sensitivity (glucose disposal M: 3.0 vs 4.0 M – mg/min/kg, p<0,01).

CONCLUSIONS: Dynamic strength training improves insulin sensitivity in men with insulin resistance independently on weight loss or increase in aerobic capacity. Our results suggest that the dynamic strength training is an appropriate physical activity for management of the insulin resistance.

PMID 15628572 [Indexed for MEDLINE]
Article in Czech.

Here are a few more of the benefits of nasal breathing:

The lungs actually extract oxygen from the air during exhalation, in addition to inhalation. Because the nostrils are smaller than the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates a back flow of air (and oxygen) into the lungs. And because we exhale more slowly through the nose than we do though the mouth, the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from the air we’ve already taken in.

When there is proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange during respiration, the blood will maintain a balanced pH. If carbon dioxide is lost too quickly, as in mouth breathing, oxygen absorption is decreased, which can result in dizziness or even fainting.

Breathing through the nose forces us to slow down until proper breath is trained; therefore, proper nose breathing reduces hypertension and stress.  It also helps prevent us from overexerting ourselves during a workout.

Our sinuses produce nitric oxide, which, when carried into the body through the breath, combats harmful bacteria and viruses in our bodies, regulates blood pressure and boosts the immune system.

Mouth breathing accelerates water loss, contributing to dehydration.

The nose houses olfactory bulbs, which are direct extensions of part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for many functions in our bodies, particularly those that are automatic, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, thirst, appetite and sleep cycles. The hypothalamus is also responsible for generating chemicals that influence memory and emotion.

The increased oxygen we get through nasal breath increases energy and vitality.

The breathing muscle is the diaphragm, which should rise and fall with each breath, producing a belly movement. This movement massages the stomach and vital organs of digestion, promoting good elimination, another way to remove toxins from the body. This type of breathing also stimulates the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that starts in the brain stem and extends, down below the head to the neck, chest and abdomen, where it contributes to the innervation of the organs of the body. Besides output to the various organs in the body, the vagus nerve conveys sensory information about the state of the body’s organs to the central nervous system.

“As far as I can discern, the best available balance of evidence suggests that the healthiest way to eat is a diet centered around whole plant foods, including an array of whole grains, beans, fruit, nuts, and as many vegetables as we can stuff in our face.”

Dec 9, 2015 Dr Michael Greger

In this passage, Dr. Greger shares why he created the “Daily Dozen” — the list of 12 foods he recommends eating every day — and fills us in on six of them.

For example, sulforaphane, the amazing liver-enzyme detox-boosting compound is derived nearly exclusively from cruciferous vegetables.

It’s the same with flaxseeds and the anticancer lignan compounds. Flax may average 100 times more lignans than other foods. And mushrooms aren’t even plants at all; they belong to an entirely different biological classification and may contain nutrients (like ergothioneine) not made anywhere in the plant kingdom.

Beans-Legumes:

You should try to get three servings a day. A serving is defined as a quarter cup of hummus or bean dip; a half cup of cooked beans, split peas, lentils, tofu, or tempeh; or a full cup of fresh peas or sprouted lentils.

Berries:

A serving of berries is a half cup of fresh or frozen, or a quarter cup of dried.

Cruciferous vegetables:

Common cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, collards, and kale. I recommend at least one serving a day (typically a half cup) and at least two additional servings of greens a day, cruciferous or otherwise.

Nuts:

Everyone should try to incorporate 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds into his or her daily diet, in addition to a serving of nuts or other seeds. A quarter cup of nuts is considered a serving, or 2 tablespoons of nut or seed butters, including peanut butter.

Spices:

I also recommend ¼ teaspoon a day of the spice turmeric, along with any other (salt-free) herbs and spices you may enjoy.

Whole Grains:

A serving of whole grains can be considered a half cup of hot cereal such as oatmeal, cooked grain such as rice (including the “pseudograins” amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa), cooked pasta, or corn kernels; a cup of ready-to-eat (cold) cereal; one tortilla or slice of bread; half a bagel or English muffin; or 3 cups of popped popcorn.

Here is a sample of one of my actual morning meals, basically a smoothie. Since I have been following the plant based meal plan, I have gained 25% more muscular and strength, increased my cardiac output and decreased the time for recovery after a workout.

Half a cup of legumes consisting of chickpeas, garbanzo beans, lentils, peas, kidney beans, black beans, soybeans, pinto beans or navy beans. A handful of greens such as kale, broccoli, spinach and avocado. One cup of fruits. I use watermelon, banana, apple, pear, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry or mango. Add one pinch of flaxseed, one scoop of plant based protein and one dab of amino acids.

Sanchin is an isometric (not moving muscle length) and isotonic (moving muscle length) developed by a Buddhist monk known in Japanese as Daruma.

Today’s research supports isometric exercises are beneficial for health and longevity by:

*Mayo Clinic

*The American Medical Association for Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension Course in 1950

*Max Sick

*Alexander Zass

*Researchers Mathieu, Van Hoecke and Maton.

The origins of Sanchin (in Japanese to the right) can even be traced to the breathing exercises performed by Buddhist monks at the original Shaolin Monastery. These breathing exercises were developed by Bodhidharma (Daruma), the transmitter of Zen to China, to provide a regimen for the monks so that they would keep being strong and healthy during their time at the monastery. Muscles can be worked on their own, without equipment or outside force by contracting a muscle and then slowly moving it through range of motion.

Sanchin is a isotonic and isometric physical breathing exercise which opens the lungs, capillaries and the epidermal glands, strengthens the heart muscle, massages the lymph system, teaches you correct alignment, tension/relaxation, posture and technique.

Do not forcibly exhale against a closed airway, but rather slow, measured breath release. Ideal breathing would simply be a gentle exhale with each technique.

Breath restriction (inhaling through the nose) on inhale gives the “yin” (lowered pressure) to the “yang” of the restricted exhale (raised pressure) which we use in Sanchin kata. Breathing in through your nose lowers the intrathoracic pressure. This increases venous return and subsequently gives the heart more blood to pump out on the exhale.

You need to contract your rectal sphincter. To use a more casual language, you need to perform something weightlifters refer to as “the anal lock”.

Just squeeze tight and don’t release until you have completed your exercise. Squeeze your butt and perform a pelvic tilt on the breath in raising your tailbone up. On the breath out, point your tailbone down as you are tucking your hips backwards and forwards. Release the tension on completion of each move.

Sanchin helps correct this by breathing deeply and pushing the air as far down as we can. This serves several purposes. We get more air, we massage our internal organs by expanding our lungs beyond our ribcage area, we learn to hide our breathing by pushing it down rather than allowing it visibly move our upper chest cavity and shoulders, and we encourage good posture by using our breath to straighten our spines to get the most out of it.

Not only was Charles Atlas’ program hugely successful, but it also gained a great deal of respect. The American Medical Association approved of and enthusiastically endorsed his course in Dynamic Tension in 1950. Atlas died in 1972 at the age of 79 from heart failure.

Atlas employed Dynamic-Tension principles to develop a mail-order course that was the basis for a multimillion-dollar bodybuilding business. Then in 1928, in partnership with Roman, he conducted one of the most-celebrated advertising campaigns in American history. Slogans such as “You can have a body like mine”

He developed a system of exercise called, Dynamic Tension where you put “muscle against muscle” and used the force that your own muscles generate to cause fatigue.  

Mayo Clinic Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

Isometric training may also be helpful to someone who has arthritis, which could be aggravated by using muscles to move a joint through the full range of motion. As people with arthritis perform isometric exercises and their strength improves, they may progress to other types of strength training. Strength training may help reduce pain and improve physical function.

Max Sick

The method of isometrics that Max created was a type of Static Tension Isometrics. When doing this isometric, you flex the muscle without moving the joint. The key is to contract each muscle group as hard as possible.

Alexander Zass

He practiced a type of isometrics called, Overcoming Isometrics.This is a method of pulling and pushing against immovable objects. The goal is exert as much force as possible. Since the object that you are pulling or pushing against is immovable, you can force your muscles to full capacity.

1988 in a laboratory in Paris, France. Researchers Thepaut-Mathieu, Van Hoecke and Maton wanted to understand if strength could increase by using a simple protocol of isometric exercises. Researchers in Paris France discovered that an unusual form of “isometric exercises” made it possible to get a strong, lean, muscular physique WITHOUT touching a single weight. Isometrics are one of the primary methods recommended along with closed kinetic chain exercises as an initial strengthening method for patients involved in rehabilitation due to safety concerns, the ability to treat the problem without introducing a large amount of pain and the overall effectiveness of the isometric contraction towards building strength at various joint angles.

Early reports by Thépaut-Mathieu (1988) reported an increase of 25–54 percent in five weeks for training and testing sessions consisting of right elbow isometric flexion. An investigation by Weir (1995) found that strength increased by 27 percent in six weeks for isometric leg extensions when training three times per week.

Research

Weir JP, Housh TJ, Weir LL, Johnson GO (1995) Effects of unilateral isometric strength training on joint angle specificity and cross-training. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 70(4):337–43.

Thépaut-Mathieu C, Van Hoecke J, Maton B (1988) Myoelectrical and mechanical changes linked to length specificity during isometric training.  J Appl Physiol64(4):1500–5.

Folland JP, Hawker K, Leach B, Little T, Jones DA (2005) Strength training: isometric training at a range of joint angles versus dynamic training. J Sports Sci23(8):817–24.

McGuigan MR, Newton MJ, Winchester JB, Nelson AG (2010) Relationship between isometric and dynamic strength in recreationally trained men. J Strength Cond Res 24(9):2570–3.

https://www.alexandertechnique.com/onyourown.htm

Form of movement- move from your hip joint. Don’t bend your spine with forward neck tilt. Redirect your energy so there is no downward pressure on the spine.

The Alexander Technique (A.T.), named after its creator Frederick Matthias Alexander, is an educational process that was created to retrain habitual patterns of movement and posture. Alexander believed that poor habits in posture and movement damaged spatial self-awareness as well as health, and that movement efficiency could support overall physical well-being. He saw the technique as a mental training technique as well.[1]

Alexander developed his technique’s principles in the 1890s[2] in an attempt to address voice loss during public speaking—a probable result of unintentionally retaining childhood asthma breathing problems. He credited his method with allowing him to pursue his passion for reciting in Shakespearean theater.[3]

Some proponents of the Alexander Technique say that it addresses a variety of health conditions related to cumulative physical behaviors but there is little evidence to support these claims.[4][5] As of 2015 there was evidence suggesting the Alexander Technique may be helpful for long-term back pain, long-term neck pain, and may help people cope with Parkinson’s disease.[5]

Just as people had found Alexander’s “vocal” technique helped them with their breathing problems, so a number of his students found his method of respiratory re-education helped them with other physical difficulties. Basically, Alexander had evolved a method for learning how to consciously change maladaptive habits of coordination. (Coordination includes movement, posture, breathing, and tension patterns.) He had come to the understanding that the mind and body function as an integrated entity, a rather unusual realization for that time.

Learning the Alexander Technique can have profound quality- of-life benefits for people of all ages, from pain relief* to improved posture to greater self-awareness and enhanced mindfulness in everyday life.

*British Medical Journal study: Private lessons with Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT) teachers provide significant long-term benefits for back pain patients. British Medical Journal 2008;337:a884. Little P, Lewith G, Webley F, et al.