Breath into Better: Using the Breath to Shift Body, Brain, and Being

Each system in our bodies relies on oxygen - from cognition to metabolism. Effective breathing gives you mental clarity and helps you reduce your stress, fall asleep faster, digest food more efficiently, and boost your body's immune response.

Founder of Warrior Woman Mode: Nutrition + Optimal Wellness, breathwork and cold exposure instructor, Kristin Weitzel insists on taking a holistic approach to the breath, the most accessible tool to improve your health.

Better breathing mechanics can help you develop better cellular health, longevity, fat loss, exercise, daily energy, and show up for yourself like a biohacking pro. Kristin touched on five ways to biohacking health into breath:

1. Nasal Breathing
2. Incorporate Daily Breathwork Exercises
3. Exposure Therapy: Training for Stress
4. Fitness Optimization
5. Stack Your Breathing Hacks with Tools

We will start with the essential breathing biohack - Nasal Breathing. It triggers receptors in the body that affect hormones, HR, body temp, blood pressure, and acidity.

“That may sound like biohacking for beginners but it will help you to improve your life. Make sure you're breathing through your nose and shutting your mouth 90% of the day to save your life. There are times that we have to open our mouths - work, home, workout - but 90% of the rest of the day for nasal breathing. You're going to shift your state. You're going to keep your nervous system in a parasympathetic mode, the essential so you are more chill and more socialized. Isn’t that a great way for you to use biohacking for longevity?

“We can use 100 other biohacking tools as well but let's start with the one that's the baseline breathing technique - ‘The nose knows.’ Why do we use the nose when we breathe in our mouth? Here we don't make nitric oxide, a chemical messenger that tells our blood vessels to vasodilate (to open up) what is important for getting blood to all parts of your body.”

Nitric oxide is made in our sinus cavity, so we build nitric oxide when we breathe through our noses. We get filtration of the air conditioner of our body works. It's naturally making us parasympathetic nervous system activation.

We are doing things sometimes with our sympathetic nervous system that are important. Still, because we live in the society we live in today, our nervous system state, generally speaking, has micro stressors and bells and whistles. All these things happening to us are defaulting to a de-stressing type of breathwork. 

What is CO2 tolerance? It is a bit of what we discovered when we explored air hunger. CO2 rising in your body and the degree of tolerance is correlated to an emotional response like how quick your emotional reaction will be and not necessarily in a good way—understanding where your CO2 tolerance is crucial. 

As you practice every day that breathes light to breathe right, you're building your tolerance to carbon dioxide. To get the oxygen in your tissues, muscles, and cells, you have to have carbon dioxide.

“In order to have the catalyst of oxygen getting into my tissues, which is the number one thing I care about, is getting it into my cells. I have to have carbon dioxide if I hold my breath or learn to have more carbon dioxide tolerance. If I take my mouth closed at night or if I do it during fitness, I can oxygenate my body better. I can do a close to max effort, and I can get more oxygen in my system.”

Changes you want to see in sleep, stress, and sickness are likely hiding in the way you generally breathe.

Additionally, Kristin mentioned the power of exposure. Putting yourself in really cold water or ice imposes a lot of stress that's going to give you longevity benefits and then learn and teach your body how to breathe well. 

The game’s goal is to give your body the feeling of being under intense stress, so when you find yourself in a stressful situation (e.g., at the office or in traffic), you’d know how to cope with it. It gives you the power to be chill at the moment and make good decisions and feel fewer repercussions from performing less. 

One more hack for better breathing is taping your mouth when you are exercising. Please, note that you should talk to your doctor if you have any medical conditions. If you're pregnant, you probably do not need to try this out as well. 

Why should you tape your mouth while exercising? That is because you need to learn how to breathe better nasally, have more CO2 tolerance, and create an adaptation where you understand how to manage your fatigue and recovery. Try to do the same workout with one day in between — nasal versus mouth/nose.

“We can always just breathe with the tools that we have in our own body. People get awareness around the breath, and they shift sleep issues with the help of breath. I recommend using the mouth tape breather fit. It is a respiratory muscle training device for your mouth. It helps to strengthen your lungs,  just like you would get your biceps stronger doing bicep curls. You use that device every other day for a few minutes. It trains your respiratory muscles.”

BiohackingCongress's Team is thankful to Kristin Weitzel for joining our biohacking conference and giving an inspiring lecture. 

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Based on the lecture by Kristin Weitzel.

Authors: Julia Smila