One of the top leading teachers of the Buteyko method (a breathing method named after the Russian physician who developed it) is Patrick McKeown. For over a dozen years Patrick has been teaching this method of breathing full-time in his native Ireland and abroad. Most people ignore the topic of breathing when it comes to health, yet breathing properly can improve oxygenation through your body. This includes your brain, and is a powerful strategy for relieving stress and anxiety. Over-breathing and mouth breathing are the most common breathing problems and have adverse health consequences.
Taking that “deep breath” to calm yourself down can actually have the opposite effect. Your breathing becomes faster, deeper and nosier when you’re stressed. You tend to breathe more often through your mouth and to breathe with your upper chest instead of from your diaphragm. You really need to breath slowly, using the diaphragm to induce calmness. Breathing less and through your nose is the key.
There are actually 30 different functions in your body that your nose directs. The nerves in your nasal passages sense everything about your breathing, and then uses that information to regulate your bodily function. Nitric oxide (NO) is released from your nose during breathing and carried from your nose into your lungs. NO is a gas that plays an important role in homeostasis within your body. The air carried into your lungs is also sterilized by NO and opens up the airways and increases the amount of oxygen taken up in your blood. Mouth breathing can result in other health problems, including asthma.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not just a waste gas. It’s important to maintain a certain amount of CO2 in your lungs, so for that to happen you need to maintain a normal breathing volume. If you lose too much CO2 through heavy breathing, it can cause the smooth muscles embedded in your airways to constrict and there is a feeling of not getting enough air. The natural reaction then is to breathe more intensely. Most of us believe that taking bigger breaths through your mouth allows us to take more oxygen into our bodies and this should make us feel better and more clear-headed. The exact opposite actually happens. If you deep breath it tends to make you a bit light-headed. Mouth breathing and over breathing tend to go hand-in-hand with snoring and/or sleep apnea. Most of our breathing problems can be dealt with when we breathe through our nose. The more that you breathe, the more likely your are to experience significant health problems. When there is a normal CO2 tolerance, your breathing will be light and smooth, as your body is not constantly trying to rid itself of excess CO2. We do need a certain amount of CO2 for normal functioning, and then you will have good tolerance to it and in turn will have a higher breath-hold time.
If you want to learn to improve your blood circulation and lower stress through proper breathing, you might try McKeown’s methods of breathing. This might also help to quell panic attacks and anxiety through breathing exercises. Search for McKeown’s teachings from his books on amazon.com and ButeykoClinic.com. The full article on nose breathing and McKeown’s teachings is on Mercola.com, and was published on July 30, 2016 and has videos for helping to teach breathing techniques.
– Dr Fredda Branyon