Twenty things you didn’t know about breathing by Joel Jelen, FBPI*

Breathing. That phenomenon we all take for granted until e.g. we forget to breathe, suffer from asthma, allergy or a panic attack.

I’m a breathing educator and the founder of Sniff Sigh Yawn which helps people to understand that how we breathe determines how well we sleep, digest our food, our ability to exercise with stamina, work e.g. on technology without symptoms, and how well we relax.

The most common form of breathing amongst the general population is over breathing – breathing at a rate greater than your body metabolically requires…or hidden hyperventilation.

I’ve put together a list of twenty things that you didn’t know about breathing, as follows:

1 People with anxiety can dramatically reduce their anxiety by physically changing how they breathe.

2 Prolonged periods of stress change your breathing rate.

3 Drinking carbonated water helps with symptoms of hyperventilation after a talkative day at work by replacing the lost carbon dioxide blown out of your mouth when speaking.

4 The rate at which you breathe governs your mood. Slow your breathing down, change your mood.

5 Over breathing washes C02 from your lungs and reduces the necessary levels required for your blood, tissues, cells and oxygenation of the brain.

6 You can measure your breathing rate naturally via the control pause: Using a stopwatch, pinch your nose, hold your breath until slight air hunger, then release. Average score is around 20. Optimal breathers can achieve 40 with minimal effort.

7 Frequent sniffing, sighing and yawning with big breaths is a symptom of hyperventilation.

8 Breathing through your mouth increases the number of dental cavities you have.

9 Mouth breathing triggers upper chest breathing. Chest breathing can create palpitations because you’ve put your body in fight or flight.

10 Mouth breathing makes you look gormless.

11 Nose breathing is your greatest immune defence. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and pollutants can be fended off by Nitric oxide (NO) produced in the paranasal sinuses.

12 Over breathing leads to carb cravings owing to insufficient C02. Red blood cells release only a small amount of oxygen, so you adjust with your cells shifting to anaerobic respiration which only uses carbohydrates for fuel. Symptoms long term may include easy fatigability, frequent hunger, craving for sweets, bread, and rice, muscle cramps and allergies.

13 Dysfunctional breathing is the second biggest factor in common pain felt in the neck and shoulder girdle. Posture is first, both are interlinked.

14 Your tongue posture determines how healthy your breathing is and how healthy you are. Incorrect tongue posture narrows the airways and impairs regular breathing patterns.

15 High temperatures in the home increase your breathing rate

16 Asthmatics need to breathe less to reduce symptoms and recover, not breathe more air…as do the general population!

17 A deep breath needs to be light, quiet, effortless, soft, through the nose, tummy-based, rhythmic and gently paused on the exhale. It is not a huge, loud, visible, mouth-exhale-based motion.

18 Breathing in for 2 seconds through the nose before speaking prevents taking large breaths through the mouth prior which causes hyperventilation.

19 Processed foods increase your breathing rate. Alkaline diets are the most efficient in recovering from over breathing.

20 You can eradicate negative thoughts by focussing on the breath, always through the tummy and the nose. Breathe as often through your nose as you eat through your mouth.

*Fellow of Buteyko Professionals International

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