Integrative week no.5 – Connecting Breathing and Immunity – Misha Sakharoff
Misha Sakharoff
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Integrative week no.5 – Connecting Breathing and Immunity

Today we are connecting Breathing and Immunity together in a strong mutually dependent pair. The main idea is that we can control our immunity by everyday breathing awareness and practice. How? We talk about the immunity enabling ‘switch’.

And then we are going to repeat one of our exercise videos from week 11 – you will see it from different perspective.

NB! It is important that you follow the correct order – there is an important detail that cannot be skipped!

1. GENERAL DISCOURSE – approx. 9 min.:

In our fifth integrative week, we look at synergetics of the combination of aspects of respiration with aspects of immunity.

If you look at this topic from a bird’s eye view, we need to recall the concept of homeostasis. Homeostasis is the maintenance of stability, the balance of all body systems, as a whole.

The main systems that are responsible for maintaining homeostasis in an equilibrium state are the endocrine, nervous and immune systems.

On our program, we study how we maintain the stability of homeostasis of all three of the above systems. You probably already guessed that we are talking about breathing.

We can also maintain focus at one point only by keeping attention on our breath.

We work primarily through awareness. We have a problem, and we are answering the question WHY we are doing this – in order to improve our health and increase our protection from internal and external destabilizing factors.

Then we answer the question WHAT – what exactly do we need to practice, WHAT it is necessary to know, so that the situation changes for the better. This is a field of exact knowledge.

And the most important, third question is HOW. How do we need to change our lives in order to improve our lives in practice.

As you might already know, our course is based on the principles of my Five-Stage Rocket protocol:

  1. Optimized physical structure –>
  2. Relaxation in movement –>
  3. Optimized breathing –> 
  4. Optimized attention –> 
  5. Radical acceptance – failing successfully – starting again from 1.’

In the very middle of the five-stage rocket that we pass every time, we have breathing. And at this moment, while passing our attention through the breath, we somehow exercise direct control of all three of our systems that support homeostasis: immune, nervous and endocrine.

Today we will talk about the physiological impact of this mechanism.

It has long been proven that the work of all our immunity depends on our breathing.

One such example is working with victims of the accident after the Chernobyl disaster. A control group of 50 people was trained in Buteyko breathing at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and after the end of the training time it turned out that the performance of the immune system of the control group of people increased by an average of 85 percent.

Other studies have shown that in just three days a structured approach to optimizing breathing (according to the Buteyko method) antibodies in the blood decrease significantly, which indicates a significant reduction in allergic reactions of the body.

These studies and many others confirm that breathing has a very strong effect on the quality of our immune system – systemic inflammation decreases, the level of bacterial dysbiosis in the intestinal region is taken under control, etc. All this happens due to the switching of our nervous system – from the state of activity of the sympathetic nervous system (as our reaction to stress), thanks to breathing, we switch to the state of activity of the parasympathetic nervous system.

If the sympathetic nervous system is active, our immunity is disabled.

Staying in a state of activity of the parasympathetic nervous system allows us to effectively fight against all external “enemies” – viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.

How exactly do we do this? We switch our breathing from thoracic to diaphragm breathing, reduce lung ventilation, and this causes a large cascade of positive changes in our body, leading to the strengthening of immunity as well.

The choice is always ours.

We can always stop our attention at one point and focus on breathing.

And after that, significant changes will come in our well-being for the better.

2. PHYSIOLOGY – approx. 21 min.:

Once again, we recall that our breathing has a direct effect on all three of our systems – the immune, endocrine and nervous. By working directly with breathing as part of our program, we have the opportunity to work directly with our immunity, namely: to help him cope with external and internal pathogens.

The following table will help you see the whole picture of what is happening:

¹ Nitrogen monoxide production is activated when breathing through the nose, and affects the healthy functioning of the nervous, immune and endocrine systems.

² Each cell has a membrane (outer shell), which should facilitate the entry of nutrients into the cell and the removal of toxins from the cell. When we begin to breathe properly, we reduce the inflammation of the membranes, contributing to the healthy energy exchange of each cell, and thereby improve our immunity.

³ The flow of inhaled air must have a certain speed so that those bacteria and viruses that enter our bodies with air can be captured and neutralized by the nasal mucosa. The optimal speed is the passage of the virus / bacteria through 10 cells of nasal mucosal epithelium per second.

Therefore, we pay so much attention to the viscosity of the mucous membrane and air humidity. All this affects the work of cilia – small hairs that promote the flow of mucus with pathogens towards esophagus to be swallowed and destroyed by the stomach acid. If we work with breathing, this process is harmonized, and all viruses / bacteria are captured by nasopharyngeal mucus and are inactivated, preventing them from getting inside.

4 Harmonization of air temperature, which enters our body when breathing through the nose, has a strong effect on the healthy formation of mucus, which stops autoimmune reactions and allows our immunity to work more efficiently.

! It is important to remember that through breathing we can control our internal stability. In other words, the homeostasis of the body is completely under our control due to the effects on all three systems: nervous, immune and endocrine.

All systems are interconnected. That is why, at our integrative weeks (there are only 10 of them in our 12-month program), we study different pairs of aspects in their relationship to understand the synergy of their work.

3. TRAINING – approx. 7 min.:

In this exercise, we will talk about reduced breathing.

Thanks to the practice of reduced breathing, we reduce minute ventilation of the lungs, reducing the volume of the inspiration itself and breathing in the air with the lower part of the lungs.

When inhaling, we do not use the chest muscles, we leave them motionless, so that the air goes as deep as possible into the lower abdomen.

I will show you three different positions of working with breathing.

Position No.1: at the desktop.

It will be most favorable if your desktop has the ability to adjust the height to provide you with maximum comfort and the most comfortable position for work. The table should give maximum support to your hands and an ergonomic angle for their location, so that you can completely relax them.

You relax your tongue, eyes, neck, shoulders, jaws. Also, relax your knees slightly, allowing them to become soft.

As a result of general relaxation, the abdominal region (the region of the abdomen) relaxes more and more, you naturally reduce your breathing, connecting with your single point of attention.

Try to be in this state from 5 minutes with a gradual increase in time to 10-20 minutes.

In this case, you begin to feel a very slight lack of air.

It is this slight lack of air that is very important to extend in time as an exercise.

This is a very powerful exercise for your health.

Position No.2: sitting in a chair.

Being in a chair, you find good support for your elbows, leaning them on the back of a chair or freely putting your hands along your body on your knees, without straining them.

And repeat the same aspects in relaxing the whole body: relaxing the tips of the fingers, jaws, eyeballs, position of the head, relaxing the neck, shoulders and other parts of the body.

At the same time, you are holding your breath.

However, you do not stop it.

Just because you are relaxing, your diaphragm begins to move less and less, and as a result, it feels like you are holding your breath.

You get a slight lack of air.

We continue to keep this slight lack of air as long as possible.

You can watch TV, listen to music or an audiobook.

Position No.3: you are sitting in a public place on a chair and listening to some kind of report.

You find balance on the edge of the chair, legs under your chair (connect them together with your heels), arms and everything else – as in the previous exercise.

You begin to feel a slight lack of air and continue to hold it for as long as possible, first for five minutes, then longer – for 10-15 minutes.

This exercise is a progressive active meditation with open eyes.

In the original exercise of Prof. Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko himself, it was necessary to sit on the very corner of the chair, then it was much easier to relax your legs.

This exercise gives us the opportunity to expand our entire workout throughout the day.

Thanks to the Prof, you will be able to train between things, while doing other things.

This is a multifunctional exercise!

 So try to apply it in various areas of your life.

And the more opportunities you find for this, the better it will be for you.

Good training!
Misha Sakharoff

Remember to be inquisitive and ask questions on our weekly Q&A session!