How To Breathe Correctly

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Huberman Lab 20th Feb 2023

Dr. Huberman has this amazing knack of coming out with podcasts which strike an immediate chord with protocols I have recently implemented.

With my new personal trainer, I quickly discovered something I was doing wrong. Being the brace position when you lift or squat. I was breathing in, but my belly was also squeezing in. My coach immediately noticed this and reversed my incorrect valsalva brace, which got me focusing on breathing in with the belly moving out, and bracing against that pressure.

This made me review my whole breathing mechanics, where I realised I had been breathing quite incorrectly.

I then began focusing on belly breathing. Laying down with my hands on my belly ensuring it was expanding with the inhaled breath, and lowering with the exhale. 

I was shocked that I was doing something as natural as breathing, so very wrong.

Here we have another Dr. Huberman masterclass explaining clearly how we should breathe, and why we should breathe a certain way.

He talks about many different breathing protocols. Below I will review the best breathing protocol to reduce stress and anxiety levels.

The Cyclic Sigh: How To Immediately Reduce Stress

At 1 hour 28 mins Dr. Huberman explains how to do the Cyclic Sigh, which is a scientifically proven way of calming your nervous system and reducing stress

  1. Inhale through the nose as deeply as you can and expand your belly.
  2. Then do a 2nd short sharp inhale immediately afterwards to maximally inflate the lungs
    1. During that 2nd inhale, the short sharp physical vigour that’s required to generate that 2nd inhale causes the lung alveoli, which may have collapsed through lack of use, to re-inflate with air. You may feel some cramps in and around your rib cage or neck, but this is simply your body using muscles it hasn’t used (but should have been) for a long time.
  3. Then a long exhale through the mouth until lungs are empty

Dr. Huberman explains: “We know that one single physiological sigh of this sort, performed at any time of day, under any conditions. Whether you’re about to walk out on stage and give a talk. Or whether you’re in a meeting and feeling stressed. Or if you’re in a conversation that’s very stressful. Or you can feel stress mounting because you’re in traffic…… Is the fastest physiological verified way to reduce levels of stress and to re-introduce calm. That is to shift your autonomic nervous system from a state of heightened levels of autonomic arousal, and restore levels of balance in the sympathetic/parasympathetic neural circuitries.”

This is based on one single cyclical sigh only.

Repeated Cyclical Sighs

A study recently showed that 5 minutes of repeated cyclical sighs like the above, brings the greatest reductions of stress. Not just during the practice, but over a 24 hour period. 

This translated into other positive subjective changes for the body, such as better sleep and a lower resting heart rate at all times of day.

So if you are the sort of person who wants to reduce their stress levels, and is prepared to invest five minutes per day to make this happen, this is scientifically proven to be the best breathing protocol there is.

Listen to this episode to learn more about the above, as well as:

  • The biology of breathing; how it delivers oxygen and carbon dioxide to the cells and tissues of the body.
  • How it’s best to breathe: nose versus mouth / fast versus slow / deliberately versus reflexively, etc., depending on your health and performance needs.
  • The positive benefits of breathing properly for mood, to reduce psychological and physiological stress, to halt sleep apnea, to improve facial aesthetics and immune system function.
  • The comparison of what is known about the effectiveness of different breathing techniques, including physiological sighs, box breathing, cyclic hyperventilation, the Wim Hof Method, Prānāyāma yogic breathing and others
  • How to breathe to optimise learning, memory and reaction time.
  • How to breathe specifically to relieve cramps and hiccups. 
  • And as always, much much more……

As Dr. Huberman says, “Breathwork practices are zero-cost and require minimal time, yet provide a unique and powerful avenue to improve overall quality of life that is grounded in clear physiology. Anyone interested in improving their mental and physical health or performance in any endeavour, ought to benefit from the information and tools in this episode.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *