Breathwork For Stress Relief Advice From A Nobel Price Winner

Nobel prize winner Louis J. Ignarro, PhD shares advice on breathworth for stress relief that could seriously change your worries and anxieties.

We all know the old advice that when you are going through moments of stress, you should “just breath”. And indeed there is considerable research backing the science of deep breathing.

For thousands of years, humans have used different breathing techniques to stop that most human of problems: stress. There are numerous breathing meditation techniques from Buddhism and Taoism, there’s pranayama in yoga, and there are numerous deep breathing techniques used in therapy.

It has been proven that rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing can promote the parasympathetic nervous system to help reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Today, Monday, we’re hearing about a new form of breathwork for stress relief, and it comes from the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Louis J. Ignarro, PhD (who, along with two other researchers, discovered the molecule at the centre of the subject, called nitric oxide).

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Try This Breathwork For Stress Relief

Ignarro, [ professor emeritus of pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine] has shared a potent method of breathwork for stress relief.

It works like this.

  1. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  2. Use controlled breathing exercises like box breathing [inhale to a count of four, hold for four, exhale for four, hold for four, repeat].

That’s it! Simple!

Why breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth?

Above we looked at breathwork for stress relief.

What matter with this breathwork technique above is that we inhale through the nose and out through the mouth. The reason why this is so important is that it causes Nitric oxide to make the body relax.

“Nitric oxide, also termed NO, is a gaseous molecule that is produced by our arteries in all organs to regulate cardiovascular function. NO causes the muscle cells (smooth muscle) enveloping arteries to relax, thereby causing vasodilation or widening of the arteries,” Ignarro wrote in an article about nitric oxide and COVID-19. “This physiological action results in a decrease in blood pressure within the arteries and increased blood flow to all organs through the dilated arteries.”

There are also other reasons why we breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

When we breathe in through the nose, little hairs around the nostrils filter out particles that could potentially harm the lungs. This is a natural cleaning process.

Breathing in through the nose also humidifies air before it reaches the lungs. This helps to balance oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, which is essential for regulating breathing. Releasing carbon dioxide too quickly causes the arteries and vessels to constrict, which reduces oxygen flow to the brain, which can cause the “fight or flight” response.

Most meditation and yoga breathing techniques involve breathing in and out through the nose. So why does this method advocate breathing out through the mouth? This has not been fully answered, although Ignarro does suggest that it will help with the effects of nitric oxide. Whether it is better to breathe in through the nose and out through the nose, or in through the nose and out through the mouth, is a matter of debate.

I will be trying this new breathwork for stress relief the next time I feel stressed. I am intrigued to see the results and compare them to my experience with the breathing techniques in meditation and yoga.

What do you think about this breathwork technique? Leave a comment and remember to subscribe.


By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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