3 years ago i started experiencing symptoms of what I now understand to be auto immune disorder. I felt pain in my joints, my knees would crack and creak and my hair was falling out in loads. I tried physical therapy for 3 months and then decided to take charge of my own health and started on a self healing journey.
My first goal was to loose some weight as I thought my knees must be feeling all that extra weight that I was carrying around. I went on a strict keto diet where I restricted my intake of carbs and tried to fast for 15–16 hours after dinner. This was really successful and I lost 10–12 pounds in 3 months. I started focusing on exercising regularly. Initially I followed Madfit workout videos on youtube and would do Yoga with Adriene. I started taking supplement pills for Vitamins, Adaptogens, Omega fatty acids you name it.
This was all helping a little bit but nothing brought me the complete healing that I was expecting. After going through dozens of youtube videos and self help books it dawned on me what an essential part your nervous system plays in the healing process.
I began to realize that the diet, exercise and supplements weren’t helping because my nervous system was stuck in stress mode. It is actually a little more nuanced. We have all heard about fight-flight mode and rest-digest modes of the nervous system. There is a third, more reptilian mode which is the freeze mode. When a stress overwhelms our system and we think we cannot fight or flee, our nervous system gets into the freeze or disassociation mode. When this happens our nervous system stays stuck and it is difficult to switch back into rest and digest again. Its like walking around with our glass full and we don’t have any more capacity to deal with daily stressors so we constantly feel overwhelmed.
And now comes the holy grail solution. Our Breath... Yes, proper breathing techniques can help get our nervous system back into the rest and digest mode where the bodies gets to repair and heal. When our exhalation is longer than our inhalation our parasympathetic nervous system is activated which supports rest and digest. Yoga and specifically pranayama has dozens of breathing techniques which can work as tools to help in this journey.
We breath in and out far more than the total food we eat or water we drink in a day. It is therefore obvious that we should be paying attention to how we breathe.