What’s the secret to breathing well in everyday life?
Breathing less not more seems to be the answer! In today's society with all it's stresses, speed and adrenaline, we have become a nation of over breathers, hyperventilaters and chronic snorers. While we all know that we should breathe slowly there are a few misconceptions around that need to be corrected. The first one is that we’re not getting enough oxygen. In fact what we need is more carbon dioxide in our systems and here is why:
- CO2 dilates the smooth muscles in the body, specifically the respiratory system (lungs and sinuses), the digestive tract (increasing it’s peristaltic action) and the cardiac system (reducing high blood pressure).
- Oxygen doesn’t jump off the haemoglobin into the tissue without enough CO2.
- CO2 regulates the blood and organ alkalinity, if there isn’t enough resting CO2 the kidneys take over causing kidney stones.
- When we blow off too much CO2 we develop snoring issues and sleep apnoea.
The second misconception is that we need to breathe deeper. In fact our lungs should have a resting gas level that doesn’t all get expelled with every breath. We should only breath in 350ml, which is less than a cup and a half in with every inhalation!!! The way we control the amount of breath that we inhale and exhale is by breathing in AND out through our noses. This reduces the volume, filters and warms the air and makes the whole breathing system more efficient. Exhaling is the way that our body gets rid of CO2 so we need to be very mindful of excessive sighing, blowing out through our lips, coughing or constant throat clearing and reduce our exhalations wherever possible.
The final thing to address regarding breathing is that our breath should sound like a tick, tock, pause. This is to say inhale, exhale, pause. The pause is the space where the magic happens and the CO2 builds up in the body. We should do this ideally 6-12 times a minute. 14 breaths a minute should be what we take when exercising (still nose breathing). If you count your breathing and find that you are breathing more frequently than that, it shows you that your brain's tolerance for CO2 has been shifted over time as a result of emotional trauma or stress (don’t panic you can change it back with practice).
I learned all of this magical information from Jakki Tobin at www.breathingeasy.com.au and it is life changing.