Conscious breathing techniques can powerfully promote lymphatic flow, enhancing immune function and reducing toxic accumulation. Conscious breathing also soothes the nervous system, fostering a deep inner calm. Together, immune and nervous systems receive nourishment from our deliberate inhale and exhale, nourishing and nurturing our physical and emotional well-being.
How conscious breathing techniques affect the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system assists with fluid regulation, immune response, fat digestion, and flows always toward the heart. It influences every organ and system of our body. Deepening the breath kickstarts the lymphatic engine, engaging the diaphragm muscle, effectively promoting flow and drainage, boosting our immune system.
Our immune river is essentially attending to the way we breathe.
How conscious breathing techniques affect the parasympathetic nervous system
You could say the vagus nerve is to the parasympathetic nervous system what lymphatic flow is to the immune system: Indispensable! And deep conscious breathing directly stimulates and enhances both lymph flow and our vagus-influenced rest-and-relaxation response, cleansing our body while calming our spirit.
The vagus nerve assists with mood regulation, immune response, digestion and heart rate. It is the longest cranial nerve in the body and passes through our belly, diaphragm, lungs, throat, inner ear and facial muscles. Slowing down and deepening the breathing stimulates and balances the vagus nerve, increasing vagal tone, relaxing the nervous system.
The vagus nerve is also attending to the way we breathe.
Basic principles of conscious breathing techniques for lymphatic drainage and nervous system regulation
- Deep slow belly breathing with an emphasis on extending the length of the exhale is particularly powerful. During our exhale the vagus nerve activates the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, slowing the heartbeat.
- Just 2 minutes of deep breathing with longer exhalations has shown to effectively tone the vagus nerve and increase heart rate variability (HRV: the amount the heart rate fluctuates between a breath-in (heart rate speeds up) and a breath-out (heart rate slows down). The difference between these 2 rates measures vagal tone.) Increased tone effectively equals increased stress resiliency.
- Engaging in deep belly breathing activates the diaphragm muscle. The largest lymphatic duct, the thoracic duct, perforates the diaphragm. The thoracic duct receives a strongly propulsive massage, transporting lymph toward the heart whenever we take a diaphragmatic breath.
Benefits of conscious breathing techniques
Stimulating the vagus nerve and our lymphatic system with conscious breathing techniques can:
- Reduce inflammation and lymphatic congestion
- Lower heart rate
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce stress and anxiety, producing an almost immediate feeling of calm
- Improve digestion
Steps of the Conscious Breathing Practice
Box Breathing on a 4 or 5 Count
- Find a comfortable position–supported sitting or lying down– in a relaxing environment.
- Exhale completely.
- Inhale through the nose, counting to either 4 or 5 slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs and fill the belly.
- Hold the breath in for 4 or 5 counts. (The slow holding of breath allows CO2 to build up in the blood. An increased blood CO2 enhances the cardio-inhibitory response of the vagus nerve when you exhale and stimulates your parasympathetic system. This produces a calm and relaxed feeling in the mind and body.)
- Exhale through the mouth for 4 or 5 counts.
- Hold the breath out for 4 or 5 counts.
- Repeat for 3 or 4 rounds.
End with 2-3 minutes of simple belly breathing without holding the breath at inhale or exhale. Experience the depth and breadth of this practice in your whole being.
End the conscious breathing technique with 2-3 minutes of simple belly breathing. Don’t hold the breath at the end of the inhale or the exhale. Experience the sensations in your body that result from this nourishing practice.
Guidelines of Conscious Breathing Techniques for Lymphatic Drainage
- Be gentle with yourself! Any new breathing practice can be challenging. The way we breathe may be our oldest and most ingrained habit. It can take time and attention to become flexible with our breath. It is worth it!
- You may feel dizzy. As you start to take deep full breaths, the experience oxygenates powerfully on the inhale. If you do get dizzy, stay seated or lying down and return to your normal breath, noting how many cycles you completed. With practice you’ll likely find that you are lasting longer, increasing the number of cycles, eventually exchanging a dizzying feeling for one of deep calm and replenishment.
- You may get sleepy. Breathing in this way can activate our rest and relaxation response so profoundly we become sleepy and/or actually fall asleep. The ultimate goal of this practice is to feel calm alertness. AND sleep is vital to our immune health. Go ahead and give yourself the gift of sleep. In time, and with enough practice, you will likely replenish your need for sleep and harness inner energy that revitalizes you.
Concerns and Questions:
If after going through this healing ritual you have questions or concerns about your vital flow you’d like support with, please schedule a Vital Lymph Solutions Call with me.
This is for you if you know you want to feel better and wonder what that could look like.
Book a Vital Lymph Solutions call with me to discuss your unique needs.
In this 30-minute call we will assess your biggest healing challenge together and lay out a plan for you to shift and solve that issue. You will walk away from this call with at least one strategy that you can begin to implement immediately to feel better. If it’s a fit to do more work together, I will let you know what that would look like. And if there’s someone else I can recommend that would be a better match, I will get you that referral.
It really IS possible to unblock your vital flow, no matter what your experience or diagnosis, and live the life you love.
Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.