Breathing is an activity automatic to the physiology of human existence. Proper breathwork techniques can be vital to improving your health and enhancing your life.
Most of us Breathe Wrong
Breathing, seems like a simple thing to do, but scientific research shows clearly that 4/5 adults we don't breathe properly at all. If there is one technique that would be of most benefit to you, it is conscious breathing through hands-on breathwork. Every patient can benefit from paying a little bit of attention to their breathing with concentrated conscious breathing. This is all it usually takes to reprogram your body to breathe well.
Unhealthy breathing only exacerbates the oxygen-balance problem. It does not take much shallow, rapid breathing to throw us out of balance, and our bodies quickly go into a mild state of alarm simply because of the disturbance in our oxygen/CO2 balance. This has a profound negative effect on the energetic balance of the body. Hence the physical body.
The typical symptoms of oxygen imbalance include:
Speech/ Singing Problems
Frequent Colds / Sore Throat
Impaired Immune Function
ADD / ADHD
Eustachian Tube Issues
Reduces Coughing & Wheezing
TMJ - Pain
After a few days of conscious breathing practice, most people report that their usual fogginess recedes, and they begin to experience a state of mental clarity. It also becomes normal for them to experience increased energy and harmony in their bodies and minds, rather than their usual state of background noise and anxiety.
Healthy breathing is designed by nature to be circular and flowing. The in-breath melts into the out-breath again. Stress, fear, and trauma typically cause sudden shocks and gaps in the smooth breathing cycle, much like the gasp we experience when we are startled.
Controlling Your Breathing is Key
If you know how to return to slower, deeper breathing, you can quiet your stress chemistry quickly. So many forms of illness respond to breath correction, it is very likely that preventive breath correction can minimize-or even circumvent-certain disease processes.
Conscious breathing is a way to understand our emotions better, and to bring resolution to stuck or trapped emotions. Our breathing patterns invariably reflect the emotional states our body is currently carrying, whether we are aware of those emotional states or not; for most people.
BUTEYKO BREATHING TECHNIQUE
"Buteyko Breathing Exercises are a compilation of exercises that have been designed in order to improve health.
By practicing breathing exercises from the Buteyko Method you can experience more open airways and improved blood circulation in a matter of minutes. This alone is enough to demonstrate the relationship between your everyday breathing and state of health.
There are a lot of breathing exercises that can be performed in order to improve the oxygen usage in our bodies. Breathing exercises are good for plenty of reasons.
There is a common belief that the more air we breathe, the healthier we are.
Few people realize that in order to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to the tissues, breathing should be slowed down so that less air enters the body. You know that you are taking less air into the lungs than normal when you experience a tolerable feeling of air hunger. Within a few minutes of continued slowing of the breath to experience air hunger, body temperature increases to indicate an improvement to blood circulation. At the same time, there is an increase in watery saliva in the mouth – traditionally observed in Yoga as activation of the body’s relaxation response.
In 1957 Ukrainian Dr. Konstantin Buteyko observed that unhealthy people have noticeable breathing during rest. Their breathing is often through the mouth, using the upper chest with a respiratory rate and volume greater than normal.
On the other hand, healthy people have regular, effortless and quiet breathing during rest. Their breathing is through the nose, driven by the diaphragm, and with a normal respiratory rate and volume.
Over the span of four decades, Dr. Buteyko developed a program designed to normalize breathing volume. Using slow breathing and breath holds following an exhalation, the objective is to take less air into the lungs. With regular practice over a few weeks, breathing is brought towards normal with resultant improvements to a number of common complaints such as asthma, rhinitis, anxiety, panic attacks, and sleep disorders.
Buteyko breathing exercises are not dissimilar to exercises practiced by Yogis. During his research, Dr. Buteyko turned to Eastern breathing techniques and combined these with the science of Western Medicine. Buteyko exercises are more direct and specifically tailored to each child and adult, regardless of condition. From the individual experiencing severe asthma and panic attacks to the healthy adult, a program is available depending on the age and health." - The Buteyko Clinic
Here is an excerpt of an interview done with some of the leaders in the field. You can read more HERE
" Kelley Richardson: What myofunctional or breathing therapy techniques do you recommend for training mouth breathers to breathe strictly through the nose?
Dr. Soroush Zaghi: Dr. Rosalba Courtney has a PhD in breathing therapy, and she's been advocating for different approaches on this topic. The important thing to consider is that this field is controversial and new. Dr. Courtney talks about the different reasons why someone is not breathing appropriately. It could be engaging muscles because of diaphragm weaknesses. For those patients, she uses a breathing retrainer to actively strengthen the diaphragm. Other times, it's posture issues that you can work on. For some set of patients in my experience, I have seen people get better with the Buteyko method, specifically patients who are breathing too fast. Not all patients have this problem, but there are some patients that have:
Anxiety, which cause them to hyperventilate
And other issues that cause a patient to breath too fast
For those people, the concept of breathe less is actually better. For patients with asthma who are pulling in a lot of air, slowing your breathing can be helpful for them. I would say that there's a role for the different kinds of breathing retraining. You would have to keep a close look and see what the issue is to determine the best method. The underlying thing is that everyone agrees the patient should be breathing through their nose. That's the commonality among all the different methods."
ASTHMA & ALLERGIES
"It is well documented in research that an adult with asthma habitually breathes more air than a person without asthma. This can be recognized by the bad habits of mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, audible breathing, and noticeable breathing at rest. The habit of over-breathing causes a disturbance of blood gases, as well as cooling and drying of the airways resulting in symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness.
Teaching an adult with asthma to switch to breathing through their nose, and bring their breathing volume towards normal, results in a significant reduction of asthma symptoms and improvement to the quality of life.
Clinical trials investigating the Buteyko Breathing Method for asthma report that the improvement to asthma control from applying the Buteyko Breathing Method leads to almost half the need for inhaled steroid medication. There are currently nine published studies investigating the Buteyko Breathing Method as a treatment for asthma, including one study collaborated on by Patrick McKeown with the University of Limerick in Ireland.
Click HERE to read about clinical trials investigating the Buteyko Method for asthma.
Asthmatic airways are prone to constriction by a combination of inflammation, constriction of smooth muscle, and increased secretions of mucus. Narrowing of the airways induces a feeling of hunger for air, accelerating the respiratory rate and volume as a compensatory mechanism. The feeling that one is not getting enough air may also encourage a switch from nasal to mouth breathing."
"Throughout human evolution, we have relied on our immediate bodily responses whenever we are confronted with danger – whether it’s fleeing from a charging elephant, panicking about an interview, or being dragged up by your friends to sing karaoke in public.
Modern life includes a myriad of worries and anxieties – finances, relationships, work, sometimes all three combined – and this constant state of stress can have serious implications on a person’s health.
Humans are well-adapted to cope with short term stresses, but long term stress, in my opinion, exerts more harm on the body than anything else. You can probably get away with eating a relatively poor diet or doing very little physical exercise for as long as twenty years, but twenty years of stress will almost certainly make you ill.
The most damaging of the long-term stress symptoms is habitual over-breathing. Increased breathing is a perfectly normal response to temporary stress as a rise in heart rate and breathing rate are necessary to prepare the body for a potentially sudden burst of action. But this natural response becomes abnormal when stress is sustained over the long term and breathing volume does not have an opportunity to normalize. As a result, the habit of breathing a volume of air greater than the body requires is developed. In turn, this causes levels of carbon dioxide in the blood to lower. Too little carbon dioxide in the blood limits blood flow, reducing oxygenation of the heart and brain. It’s somewhat ironic that the brain receives less oxygen during the very time when alertness and mental concentration are acutely required, but this is exactly why it’s so difficult to think clearly under stress – how can a brain that is deprived of oxygen be expected to work properly?"
Does your breathing pattern change in a time of stress?
"Stress causes us to breathe more, so taking a deep breath to calm ourselves down just doesn’t make any sense, and only serves to keep us in a continued state of stress. Instead, the opposite is needed – slow, quiet, calm breathing that allows blood gases and operating systems to restore to normal."