Brain Breathing to Improve Internal Health
Jan 19, 2017 by Dr. Jess Goodman | health
Your Brain is a Supercomputer
Your brain floats in a crystal clear bath of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF carries oxygen and sugar to brain cells and carries carbon dioxide and waste products away. There are 250ml of CSF surrounding the brain and spinal cord and this entire volume is replaced four times every day.
This blog will teach you how to maintain CSF circulation, have better mood, better energy and avoid developing Dementia by breathing effectively.
Breathing acts as a pump to propel CSF up the spine and around the brain. The graph below shows how CSF flow occurs with each breath. The shorter spikes correspond to heart beat pulsations.
With each breath the diaphragm descends and the rib cage expands, leading to a drop in pressure in the chest cavity. This drop in pressure draws blood from the brain in veins that empty into the heart. The skull is a rigid and confined space. As blood returns to the heart, CSF is drawn up the spinal column to replace the lost volume.
For the diaphragm to descend and then rise, for the rib cage to expand and contract, the core regions of the body need to remain mobile. Core Mobility is strongly related to spinal stiffness. Yoga and Tai Chi have for centuries emphasized spinal flexibility as important for good health and long life.
Yoga, Tai Chi and other exercises that stretch the body along the spinal axis promote Core Mobility and allow the diaphragm and rib cage to drive CSF flow to the brain with each breath. A simple and easy way to loosen the spine, increase Core Mobility and enhance CSF circulation with each breath is to practice Standing Chi Kung. Staying in the posture shown below for two minutes is a good way to start. The arms extended in front of the body, draw the body’s weight to the middle of the feet in a way that very slightly unweights the heels. With every breath as the chest expands the arms almost imperceptibly advance and the spine stretches forward, body weight shifts forward, taking additional weight off the heels. To balance the forward motion and maintain balance the spine expands and stretches through the heels. The downward stretch and forward motion are exactly balanced so that there is no visible movement of the heels. To the casual observer the heels appear to be in contact with the ground but internally they are engaged in a downwards stretch with each breath.
The ancient Taoists taught that ‘breathing through your heels brings good health’. Good luck with your Standing Chi Kung practice and enjoy a mind that functions well for your entire life.