Are you willing for a moment to suspend your belief that big breath is better?
Like so many others immersed in the world of yoga, I have practiced and instructed deep breathing through traditional pranayamas: oceans of breath filling our yoga studios with noisy ujyayii waves, and dragon breaths of fire. Big. Muscular. Full bodied. Audible. Generations of us have believed all this effort demonstrates the essence of healthy breathing. After all more breath MUST be better. We’re told this is the way to calm our nervous system and reclaim our equilibrium.
But, what if we got it wrong and bigger breathing is actually increasing the load on our bodies and interfering with our ability to cope with whatever the stressors might be: physical, mental or emotional?
The Benefits of Breathing Lite
The wise yogis knew that everything needs to be held in balance. Overall their counsel was to become more internally efficient and need less. The practices of yoga are meant to enable us to be self-reliant and self-aware. As we practice, the body and mind are to become refined, stable, relaxed and still. The breath, our internal compass can take us into that state more readily than anything else. The yogis knew this too. That is why they counseled us to breathe LESS — to restrain the breath and make it more subtle. A quiet relaxed mind follows a quiet relaxed breath.
It turns out that western respiratory physiology backs up the yogis intuitive understanding. LESS breath is better, healthier in every way!
Causes of Hyperventilation
Prolonged low grade stress
Overeating or eating highly acidic/processed foods
Lack of exercise
Overuse of stimulants
Exposure to pollutants
Chronic pain, illness
Excessive talking (teachers and sales people especially susceptible)
Allergies, Hay Fever
Chronic cough, COPD, Asthma
Slow and Reduced Breathing...
Raises pulmonary CO2 levels
Cutting lung ventilation in half prompts blood levels of CO2 to double.
Brain blood vessels dilate and MORE blood can go to the brain
Decreases inflammatory processes and restores pH balance
Results in calm alertness and increased awareness.
Increases vitality, decreases the need for sleep, reduces craving and supports aerobic fitness
Learn more about how Buteyko-breathing can help you address: asthma, hay fever, allergies and chronic cough; snoring and sleep disorders; anxiety, chronic fatigue, IBS and other chronic inflammatory conditions including hypertension.