Healing Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diaphragmatic Breathing

After having constant abdominal pain, severe cramps, and losing 15 pounds from IBS, I found myself in the hospital bed where all the doctors could offer me was morphine to reduce the pain. I searched on my smart phone for other options. I saw that abdominal breathing could help. I put my hands on my stomach and tried to expand it while I inhaled. All that happened was that my chest expanded and my stomach did not move. I practiced and practiced and finally, I could breathe lower. Within a few hours, my pain was reduced. I continued breathing this way many times. Now, two years later, I no longer have IBS and have regained 20 pounds. – 21-year old woman who previously had severe IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome(IBS) affects between 7% to 21% of the general population and is a chronic condition. The symptoms usually include abdominal cramping, discomfort or pain, bloating, loose or frequent stools and constipation and can significantly reduce the quality of life (Chey et al, 2015). A precursor of IBS in children is called recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) which affects between 0.3 to 19% of school children (Chitkara et al, 2005). Both IBS and RAP appear to be functional illnesses, as no organic causes have been identified to explain the symptoms. In the USA, this results in more than 3.1 physician visits and 5.9 million prescriptions written annually. The total direct and indirect cost of these services exceeds $20 billion (Chey et al, 2015). Multiple factors may contribute to IBS, such as genetics, food allergies, previous treatment with antibiotics, severity of infection, psychological status and stress. More recently, changes in the intestinal and colonic microbiome resulting in small intestine bacterial overgrowth are suggested as another risk factor (Dupont, 2014).

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Winning the Gold in weight lifting-Using biofeedback, imagery and cognitive change

Watch the in-depth interview with Jo Aita in which she describes her experience of integrating imagery techniques and biofeedback to enhance performance on May 26, 2017.

“It was the best meet of my life.” -Jo Aita

Setting a personal best and winning the Gold medal is a remarkable feat. Jo Aita, age 46 and weighing 58 kg, set the Masters World Records and Masters Games Records in Snatch, Clean & Jerk and Total Olympic weight lifting at the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand, April 26th, 2017. She lifted 71 kg in the Snatch and 86 kg in the Clean and Jerk Olympic lifts in the 45-49-year-old age group (see video in figure 1). What makes this more remarkable is that her combined lifts were 3 kilograms more than her life-time best in previous competition. She refuted the conventional wisdom that weight lifters peak in their mid to late twenties. There is hope for improvement as aging may not mean we have to decline.

There are many factors–and many more which we do not know–which contribute to this achievement such as genetics, diligent training and superb coaching at the Max’ Gym in Oakland as a member of Team Juggernauts. In the last three years, Jo Aita also incorporated biofeedback and visualization training to help optimize her performance. This report summarizes how breathing and electromyography feedback combined with imagery may have contributed to achieving her personal best[3]. As Jo Aita stated, “I recommend this to everyone and hope that you can work with athletes in my gym.”

Components of the 30 sessions of biofeedback, internal language and visualization training program

The training was started in September 2014 to reduce anxiety and improve performance. The components embedded in the training are listed sequentially; however, training did not occur sequentially. They were dynamically interwoven throughout the many sessions and augmented with homework practices, as well as storytelling of other people achieving success using similar approaches. The major components included:

1. Mastering effortless slow diaphragmatic breathing in which the abdomen expanded during inhalations and constricted during exhalation. The respiration feedback and training was recorded with BioGraph Infinity respiration sensors and recorded from the abdomen and upper chest. Her homework included monitoring situations where she held her breath and then anticipate breath holding by continuing to breathe. She also practiced slower breathing with heart rate variability feedback from a Stress Eraser. Practicing these allowed her to become centered and regenerate more quickly. As she stated, “It helped me during the day when I am anxious to calm down.” Throughout the training, the focus was to use breathing to rapidly regenerate after exertion especially after training.

2. Learning to relax her shoulder muscles with electromyography (EMG) feedback to regenerate and learn awareness of minimal trapezius muscle tension. She could use this awareness to identify her emotional reactivity (Peper, Booiman, Lin, & Shaffer, 2014). Often emotional reactivity increases muscle tension. She learned to relax here muscles quickly after muscle contractions to allow regeneration

see the full article and videos on “the peper perspective

Meditation’s Calming Effects Pinpointed in Brain

A new mouse study reveals a set of neurons that may point to physiological roots for the calming effects of breathing control

By Diana Kwon on March 30, 2017 from Scientific American

During yoga pranayama exercises people practice controlling the breath, or prana, to induce a state of calm and focus. Paying attention to breathing and slowing down respiration is a core component of many mindfulness practices. Research suggests the practice has multiple benefits—it induces an overall sense of well-being while reducing anxiety and improved sleep.

But what exactly is going on in the brain during meditation? Imaging studies of humans have shown brain regions involved in mind-wandering, attention and emotion are involved in various stages of mindfulness practice. A new mouse study, published Thursday in Science, shows that neurons in the brain stem may also mediate the link between breathing and inducing a state of meditative calm.

see the full article here

Tap your holiday stress-busting super power: Breathing

By Dana Santas, from CNN Updated 10:47 PM ET, Sun November 20, 2016

Despite the myriad joys the season brings, it can be a stressful time for many of us. Between shopping, cooking, travel, parties, house guests, winter storms and shorter days, the holidays pile on the stress with little regard for the continued demands of our everyday lives. Instead of feeling festive, we’re often left tense, irritable and exhausted.

The good news is that we’re all equipped with a natural superpower to manage stress: breathing.

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31 new digital health tools showcased at CES 2017

One of the sleep aid products we carry was highlighted this year at CES!

The 2breathe Sleep Inducer was introduced by father-son team Erez and Benjamin Gavish, who also make an FDA-cleared hypertension wearable called RESPeRATE. Realizing that their original wearable was making its users fall asleep, they were prompted to create the new tracking module, which people wear on an elastic strap around their torso.  As they breathe, the data from the rhythm of their breath feeds into their companion app, which creates a melody to synchronize with their breathing and ostensibly guide the user to slow down their respiration and fall asleep.

See the full article here

How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve for Better Mental Health

Great article from a Optimal Living Dynamics blog about the benefits of HRV and stimulating the vagus nerve. Authored by Jordan Fallis

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It connects your brain to many important organs throughout the body, including the gut (intestines, stomach), heart and lungs.

In fact, the word “vagus” means “wanderer” in Latin, which accurately represents how the nerve wanders all over the body and reaches various organs.

The vagus nerve is also a key part of your parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system. It influences your breathing, digestive function and heart rate, all of which can have a huge impact on your mental health.

But what you really need to pay special attention to is the “tone” of your vagus nerve.
Vagal tone is an internal biological process that represents the activity of the vagus nerve.

Increasing your vagal tone activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and having higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress.

In 2010, researchers discovered a positive feedback loop between high vagal tone, positive emotions, and good physical health. In other words, the more you increase your vagal tone, the more your physical and mental health will improve, and vice versa .

Read the full article How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve for Better Mental Health 

Breath work and meditative practice using the 2breathe

Once upon a time in my mid-twenties I began practicing meditative breathing. The practice was prompted by my lifestyle at the time and the refection on myself that I was living a bit “unhealthy”. As youngster I practiced karate from the age of 10-13 so I was familiar with eastern philosophy and meditation, at least to a point. I had read several books as a requirement of my martial arts training but, I had zero experience with actual meditation. So I picked up Zen Training by Katsuki Sekida and began reading about how to meditate. Although my meditative practice only lasted about 6 months at the time I learned quite a bit about why regular breath work can help us to lead better lives. The beginning of the book broke down physiologically what breath work does for the body. Where most books would dive right into the psychological and spiritual. The point here and well expressed by the book is the meditative practice is more than just spiritual. Breathing is the most basic thing we do and when practiced in a particular way we can lead vastly improved and healthier lives.

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Sleeping with the enemy: 3 ways tech can empower you to sleep better.

Young Cell Phone Addict Man Awake At Night In Bed Using Smartpho

I have a confession: I am a techy. And, I believe tech can help you sleep better.

I know: Phones, TVs, and other gadgets can wreck sleep. I get why Arianna’s bedroom is tech-free, especially when it comes to the #1 seducer — the smartphone. Who’s texting me? My kid? My boss? And when’s that new outfit I ordered from Amazon going to be delivered?

A restless, racing brain is the enemy of sleep.

So why do I make the case that tech can help us get to sleep, stay asleep, and improve sleep quality?

Because, I’ve seen people fall asleep and sleep better using tech. Safely. Without medication or other drugs.

Read Full Article here.

How Emory University Counseling and Psychological Services’ Dana Wyner uses biofeedback

We are often asked by counselors in counseling programs how they can incorporate biofeedback in to their counseling programs.  Helping students cope with stress and offering an avenue for counseling services is a very valuable commodity to any university and its student body. Dr Wyner and Emory University have an excellent counseling program at Emory and asked her Emorys’ model This is from the desk of Dr Wyner:

This is the core of the letter that I send to counseling center psychologists who ask me how we run our program…

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Emory University Student Counseling Program Helping Students Cope with Stress

Great article about the student counseling program at Emory University. See the full story below.

“As the calm and collected overseer of Eagles at Ease Stress Management Services, Dana Wyner ’04 PhD encourages her clients to take a mental mini holiday, go limp like JELL-O and feel snug as a bug in a rug.

Those practical lessons for relaxation on the go are particularly helpful during exam time, when nerves are frayed and performance anxieties go into overdrive.

The Student Counseling Center Stress Clinic, funded by Emory’s new mental health fee, sees more than 30 students each semester for issues such as test-taking anxiety, phobias, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, headaches and hypertension. Services include helping students develop a personalized toolbox of positive coping strategies, small group training in relaxation skills and biofeedback, and individualized therapy sessions.”

Read the full article at Emory.edu